Pearl S. Buck Literary Journal
Secrets – one of the first things we learn as children.
The concept of secrets starts with toddlers being shushed by parents for commenting on someone’s weight or color or disability. They get shushed again for repeating something Mommy or Daddy said. “Don’t tell, don’t say that to Daddy, Mommy, neighbors or doctors.”
As we get older, secrets become more complicated and seemingly more necessary in our lives. We even keep secrets from ourselves by refusing to discuss or cope or change. Yet, we hate secrets too. We struggle to decide which ones to keep and which ones to tell. We bemoan this universal human tendency while we embrace the need for it. We excuse the white lies and feel guilty about bigger ones. We all have secrets we don’t want others to know, private and hidden knowledge filled with power. The secrets might amaze or embarrass, betray, shock or harm. We simply don’t know.
So, what do we do?
Recently, our teenage grandson came into my kitchen just as I finished an edit on a poem. Impulsively, I asked if he’d like to read it. Being both polite and kind, he said he would. The poem describes an incident from my childhood which, through the alchemy of writing, was transformed into something new.
“Did this happen to you?” he asked. “Is it real?”
Then, we talked about prose and poetry being a release for emotions, a release for the demons we all carry or a release for secrets we can’t otherwise share. Those things can be put into words on a page where it may touch a chord in a reader. Through the alchemy of writing, I took an incident and made it new, gave it a different life in a poem. He connected to that and I saw the understanding as it began to show on his face.
Like any art, writing allows you to take a thought or emotion and create something new, something that may or may not have anything to do with the original inspiration. We mine our lives for those nuggets we find useful and transform them into art, music, prose, and poetry. My grandson understood that and likened it to his favorite movies and the stories they tell. Since he enjoys art and music, I suggested he try it himself and one day he may.
Often, writing exposes a deeper truth and the secrets that are kept there. In the act of writing, we may reveal something to ourselves, thoughts or feelings we didn’t know we had. From this, we can learn what themes our life follows and what problems occur the most. That is why writing journals is so useful and why bibliotherapy – the use of poetry or prose to explore feelings — works. We literally see ourselves in words.
Conversely, writing hides secrets in plots or images, which wait to be found by the reader. That is why mysteries are so popular – we don’t know something, so we need clues to help us find the secret. There’s a reason Law and Order was so popular for so many years. We like knowing secrets, even those of fictional characters. It gives us satisfaction.
Biographies and memoirs reveal the secrets of someone’s life, which can be endlessly fascinating. Even self-help books reveal secrets – Learn to cook creatively! Be a better person! Learn the secret of weight loss!
We chose Secrets as a theme for this issue of the journal because there is something deeply human about them, something that brings out emotions of every sort. It is universally interesting and it inspires all kinds of writing. We have a little bit of everything in this issue, a variety well worth exploring.
So, come – visit our secrets.
Susan E. Wagner
Editor, PSB Literary Journal
(Click title to read selection.
Author’s biography at end of contribution)
A Poem by Susan E. Wagner
A Sea of a Thousand Shalt Nots
A Memoir by Meredith Betz
A Novel Excerpt by Melissa Triol
In the Time of
A Poem by Elizabeth Esris
Secrets – A Play in Four Scenes
A Play by David H. Werrett
The Secret of the Double Knot
A Poem by Anne K. Kaler, PSBVA
Whose Secret Is It?
A Memoir by Linda C. Wisniewski
Secrets Beyond the Windowsills
A Poem by John A. McCabe
Poetry in Brief
An Essay by Susan E. Wagner
In the Garden of the Lost and Found
A Short Story by Meredith Betz
Harry’s Hobby Shop
A Memoir by Fred W. Donaldson
A Poem by Elizabeth Esris
A Short Story by Paul Sullivan
A Mystery by Ann Nonymous
A Short Story by Bob McCrillis
A Poem by David H. Werrett
A Women’s Tale
A Short Story by Susan E. Wagner
Nevada’s Light Brigade: A Top Secret Clearance
A Novel Excerpt by John A. McCabe
Keeper of Secrets
A Short Story by Paul Teese
A Memoir by Ronald Scott Price