LITERARY ORPHANS ISSUE 30: Letter From the Editor
Dear Orphans & Orphanettes,
The act of writing takes patience. It takes dedication, quietness of the mind, and an innate ability to create rhythm and voice on a blank canvas. Before one can even begin to put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard), the act of writing demands an indeterminate length of time where the mind can travel down any number of roads without interruption. To write, we must voyage outside of ourselves. We must hover above our earthly bodies and examine ourselves and the worlds we inhabit objectively.
In a world of ceaseless streaming, advertising, and background noise, finding the right environment for creativity can be difficult. With each object we interact with and each digital screen we glance at, we risk opening the doorway to a deluge of chatter. Buy this! Buy that! Your life is incomplete without the NEW and IMPROVED…
It’s almost like living in a horror story where supernatural voices direct every waking moment of our lives. If it’s not an advertisement whispering in our ears, it’s a strongly worded opinion piece shaming us for something we did or didn’t do. These ghostly voices encourage us to strive for something better than ourselves. They tell us we’re not good enough and that we shouldn’t be content with who we are as individuals. We need to be more. We need to be better.
There’s just one problem. No matter how closely we follow these voices, “better” is always dangling just out of reach. “Better” is further up the winding, rickety staircase that leads to parts unknown.
Shirley Jackson wrote about a winding, rickety staircase once. She wrote about a haunted house, too, where a woman was plagued with voices from beyond. It drove this woman, Eleanor, to the brink of madness, much like our modern-day voices are softly threatening to drive us to a similar point.
Despite the challenges of her time, despite the jobs she held, the children she raised, the husband she built a life with, and the cross-country moves she made, Shirley Jackson always found time to write. She wrote every single day, with the goal of writing a minimum of a thousand words each day. She authored short stories and novels, comedies and tales of horror. Shirley Jackson was one of those literary voices who found the cracks between the foundations of a busy life. She found a way to step out of her routine, quiet the mind, put pen to paper, and bring a voice to an otherwise blank canvas.