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The Art of Reading

Writing and reading are both perceived as such solitary, personal ventures, but it is in the realm of community and idea of the collective unconscious that these isolated acts truly live and breathe with fervor. There was a short story that the fiction staff published in 20.1 that I initially felt was not as strong as some of the other options – personally, I found it a bit static and was unable to connect to it. I didn’t see how the story worked, why we ended up accepting it for publication, and I was irritated with myself for not seeing the value that the others did.

I knew I was missing something vital – I wasn’t seeing the story for what it was. Until the Fourteen Hills Release Party, when the author read the story aloud. Where before I had been unable to recognize or intuit the dramatic pauses and use of language and space, the author’s verbal interpretation of his own story powerfully reminded me that a story does not just live flat on the page. For me, it was the sharing of this story within the community of Fourteen Hills that allowed me to know why it mattered. Not just why this story mattered, but how emotional resonance may be found beyond the page – there is more than one way to read, to listen.

I went back and read the story later again on my own, but this time, I heard the author’s voice, I saw the use of space and so much more than just what I had initially thought and had originally been unable to see beyond. And it is in the discovery of new voices, of being able to listen in new ways, that fiction really lives.

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