“What is to give light must endure burning” – Viktor Frankl
Today, I was reading a memoir in literary magazine The Sun
To be honest, I never enjoyed reading literary journals.
As a 20-something, I felt I should read literary magazines because well, that is what writers do who want to be published. Because if you are published that would mean you’d made it, that your pricey English literature degree paid off and now you could walk through the world this super enlightened New-York-City-I-live-in-the-Village and-wear-horn-rimmed-glasses-and-sip-lemon-tea-with-3-stray cats-and-patchouli-incense-burning-and-long-stringy-spider-plants-draping-down-from-thick-macrame-hangers-bought-at-some-street-fair-somewhere-capital-w-Writer.
Oh please . . .
But seriously, until my friend Laura shared a old issue of The Sun with me (which I read cover to cover by the way), I hadn’t picked up a literary journal since that first year out of college (25+ years ago when I was working full-time in the basement of Anderson’s bookstore packing boxes of books for school book fairs, but also look! wearing my blue felt “writing hat” so people would know I was made of greater stuff. Right.)
Anyway, today over lunch, I was reading a piece entitled Almost Unendurable Beauty by Jocelyn Evie. I’m not going to tell you about the story because well, you should read it if you have a chance.
But please let me tell you my experience. I saw myself in another’s words.
“I wanted badly to have some remarkable talent that would garner attention, but at the same time I also hoped to skirt by unnoticed” – from Almost Unendurable Beauty by Jocelyn Evie (The Sun, Issue 473, May 2015)
There I was reflected in one crisp, beautiful sentence (with juicy verbs). The experience was stunning, so much so, that I underlined the words (and I normally don’t do that). It was like I’d heard the silver sound of a tuning fork – and I was now sitting up straight, properly aligned.
Through that personal, very intimate experience of reading the author’s words, her description of her thirteen-year-old self, I could discern not only recognition but also something a layer deeper.
I could see Why I read and Why I write.
I read to discover meaning, connection, understanding and beauty.
I read to be touched and to learn.
I read to experience that reverberant sense of “ah, yes, I see” and be changed.
This is also why I write. (wow)
Reading and writing are this exquisite yin and yang, one-embracing-the-other-embracing-the other – I love the magic of that, the wonder of that, the connected-ness of that, the inter-dependency.
This was my experience today reading The Sun – being part of the concentric circles ever-widening – the author’s words, my reading of them, my being inspired to write about the experience and now inviting you to read my reflection (and possibly the author’s memoir).
It is stunning really, when you think of it.
With gratitude to Laura M. for introducing me to The Sun.
For the The Sun for remaining independent and for embodying the Viktor Frankl quote printed on your masthead (and at the start of this blog). Thank you for being there for writers and readers.
Special thanks to writer Jocelyn Evie (see bio below), whom I don’t know personally. Thank you for modelling what it looks like to stay committed to writing (with courage) all while living a full (and messy) life, being a parent and spouse, while also flourishing in a corporate career and writing! You inspire me to remain open to possibility.
Here is the link to the story she wrote and was published in The Sun:
Jocelyn Evie is the pseudonym of freelance editor and writer living in California. She’s spent most of her career working for large corporate clients. Now, she’s thinking about writing a memoir using bullet points and PowerPoint slides