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By Nicole M. Bouchard
Our Christmas Eve social media communication to you had lines in its closing that are most appropriate for this holiday’s blog post opening: “[T]onight, just know a simple thing, a fundamental truth—you are loved. We're working on communications to get out to you soon. Please keep us in your hearts as you shall be in ours. Be kind, be warm, be blessed on this and all nights… Love to you all.” These wishes, these sentiments remain the same. On a holiday for and about love as well as unity, we wanted to reconnect with you in a very special way.
Our WPWT family is never far from mind and in fact, the work we’ve been busy doing behind-the-scenes is really our continuous valentine to you. It is one which will endure and keep delighting with things shiny and new as well as retaining that which is treasured and true. 2020 is the dawning of a new decade. We in this world are standing at the forefront of change. What better time, what better opportunity to seize the momentum and aim for new horizons? We are indescribably excited to share how we chose to infuse the magazine with new innovations, new ideas, new components…all to invest in its new incarnation. We will be speaking more about this and factors outside of us that necessitated temporary shifts in focus and timing to do what we have wished to in the way that we like to do things. As we’re going for latest and greatest, we will communicate to you in further detail and talk timelines, but for now, we want to reconnect in the spirit of play. There are variations of this quote and it has associations with the 1800s, the 1600s, and even Plato, but the essence is this: “You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.”
So, dear ones, we came up with something to bring vibrant fun to Valentine’s Day that is partly rooted in family tradition, partly a nod to our mag’s signature Home page wording alongside our dove logo, and partly a way to celebrate one of our fantastic interviewees, the ever-inspiring Ms. Naomi Epel (The Observation Deck, Writers Dreaming).
A tradition of your editor-in-chief is to gather with family and friends for a Valentine’s dinner, followed by a sometimes elaborate dessert (yes, I love to bake), and then to put a bunch of supplies on the table to make Valentine’s Day cards. It began as a quirky tradition that involved a lot of humor and rhyming with cutouts, stickers, pens, and paper, but it has evolved to colored pencils and cardstock where even those in attendance who cannot draw, do so, much to the good-natured entertainment of those present. We always try to make one another laugh and this is because we feel the more serious emotions throughout the year and those are unchanging. This, we see as a time for joviality and cake. However, what we at WPWT plan to do with you is rather different. We still want levity but your creations are more to fire up your creativity in this cold season and to convey whatever kind of message you like to one particular recipient. Keep in mind the concepts of feasting and merriment, supplies covering your table.
Now, imagine that you are seated at a table in a chic café much like the one described aside our magazine logo on the Home page. The difference is that instead of one person pulling up a chair to tell you a story, there is a buzzing atmosphere of many people and they are all the writers and artists of our community. It is a warm, welcoming atmosphere and everyone knows you and enjoys you because they’ve seen your art or read a piece of your writing. We are there too, visiting every table and talking about all of the great memories of over ten years. There are sounds of shuffling decorative papers and cardstock, the snipping of scissors, the shading of pencils dragging over surfaces. People are sharing items and passing different colors or tape or glue. When the time to write comes, conversations are muted, but friendly smiles are caught by wondering glances. Everyone is comfortable and there is an electric charge in the air with all the incredibly powerful collective creativity. Helping as generous guardian and guide to all, we are so honored to have Naomi Epel with us in the café.
We had interviewed Naomi in the summer of 2011. During a recent call, I loved how fitting it seemed when she described how she literally was in a café on the West Coast. We got to talking about new directions and projects. When hearing that her new work dealt with alliteration and excavating the essence of individual letters in full expressive, communicative capacity, I half-jumped up because it’s not only a fluid, beautiful way of expressing and stressing poignant messages, but frankly, whatever new tool springs from the great mind of Ms. Epel is going to ignite excitement in the heart of a writer. Her works, such as The Observation Deck and Writers Dreaming, continually give fresh insight and stand the test of time, applicable not only to creative work, but to life, really. Sometimes when I feel stuck at a crossroads, I shuffle my Observation Deck which has graced my shelf since I was a young girl, and whatever card I draw, I can derive some literal or metaphorical action to help me step forward. As an adult, it holds all the same power and wonder to me that it did when I first utilized it. Thus, discussing possibilities around a new tool with Naomi was exhilarating. Alliteration, used by masters such as Edgar Allan Poe, is a spellbinding literary device. We’d like this first exercise we’re doing, our first foray into this, to honor Ms. Epel and herald future opportunities for her exciting presence amongst us.
Alliteration comes from the Latin, littera (or latira). It was fascinating to discover that this term means “letter of the alphabet,” according to Wikipedia. After researching various articles in-depth for some time to check some of my examples and learn more, I found that it is more of an art form than a specific science. The portion of it that is “science” references the science of sound. There was a piece on how it is differentiated by our breathing and movement of parts of the mouth. Though it can have varying parameters around its use and slightly different interpretations, we want the inherent inclusive freedom in how a multitude of reputable sources and some input from experts define it. We do, however, offer options to further increase the challenge.
Ready to play? Okay, break out any art supplies you have (and of course this is optional). Organize these first and proceed to the designed printable chart we have featured below. Its blocks are numbered 1-26 to account for all of the letters of the alphabet with their associated numerical values. A=1, B=2, H=8, Z=26, and you get the picture. It adds to the suspense to see which letter you get (wink). You don’t even have to print the chart if you’re working solo on your computer. You can just close your eyes and point with one finger to a number on the chart. You can print the chart and cut out the individual blocks of numbers to shuffle in a bowel and pick that way. You can roll a small pebble or bead across the printed chart and see what number it lands on. Whatever its letter equivalent, that is the letter you have to work with. The only letter for the purposes of this particular exercise. The focus of this is fidelity to one beginning letter, one theme or tone of your choice, and one recipient of your choosing for your Valentine’s Day card. For a trickling, almost melodic sound the letter adheres to one sound at the beginning of each word. A quick example (don’t judge, this is being done near midnight) might be a valentine from a fellow to a gal that references the mythically beautiful Helen of Troy in her positive aspects: Heavenly Helen habitually harbors hale heroes in hallowed, halcyon days. We won’t be too strict on this, so small words of different letters are allowed to string things together.
This is really for you and how you choose to do this in terms of increased complexity to jump-start your imaginative engine is left to your discretion. It could be serious, it could be comical, it could be ardent devotion. You decide. You could make it a haiku, a poem, just a phrase, just a few lines. Color outside the lines if you want. Use festive or plain paper. You can hand your work to the intended recipient ideally if they are present or mail it to them (getting mail, as Naomi and I discussed, is so lovely and rare in these electronic days). You could do all this on your computer if you truly wish and e-mail it or take a picture of what you made and send/text that image with the wording. The MAIN rule is this: Have fun. Charge your creative batteries and create something. You can even make one of encouragement addressed to Y-O-U in honor of self-love. You choose.
Should you wish to share any of them, feel free to send the wording through the magazine feedback form on the Feedback and Questions page.
Happy Valentine’s Day, my darlings, from our hearts to yours.
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