One of the things I love to do in my zines in capture quotes from books I'm reading or podcasts I've listened to or movies I've seen. The quotes that come from a story someone is telling have great power in their context. A stand alone quote doesn't mean nearly as much to me as one that has come from the interwoven words of a developing story. There is depth to these quotes that has been unpacked by the time I have given to engaging with the story. So when I write them in my zine, I am connecting dots, the parallel of my story to the artist's story. I am getting a sense of why they have had such great an impact.
I recently finished the novel The Dog Stars by Peter Heller. It was a rare occasion that I was in the library, walked by this book on a shelf, and felt drawn to it. I read the summary and decided to give it a try. This is no small thing for me. Giving myself (my time, my energy) to a book that I have no previous knowledge of is not something I do very often. In fact, I can't remember the last time I did so. I was touch and go for the first few chapters, wondering if I was really committing to the story. I am really cautious about what portals I open myself up to. They have to matter deeply to me. At some point, without realizing it, I made a shift and gave myself to the story fully.
I would describe it as a masculine story. The main character is male. In fact it isn't until the end of the book that anyone other than male is strongly a part of the story. I liked the rawness of this book. The struggle, the dilemmas, the interaction with nature, the big questions of "Can I go on and why should I anyway?" Once you start to see yourself in a character this is when the story really opens up.
I usually don't end up writing down that many quotes from a book (unless it's Ayn Rand. Her books are quote overload). I like that all I seem to find is a few gems. I like this natural selection process that occurs. I don't feel weighted down afterwards, but like I got just what I came for.
I have a few more quotes from The Dog Stars that I plan on including in the February Secret Message Society zine. When I put them down on paper I know that I am merging fiction with my reality. It is artist as magician taking the magic of one story and applying it to my living. I rarely feel like I'm done with a book until the quotes have been transferred to my zine. It is my own little ritual, moving me forward through my chaos. Once they are transcribed, they can work their magic in my living. They become my words in my own way, and I'm so grateful the artist shares them so.
Joseph Campbell says:
Here's an example of how book quotes merge with my reality:
Yesterday morning before school had started, a fourth grade teacher across the hall from me deep sighed, gathering herself for the day of students who would no doubt need things from her. Then she made eye contact with me, smiled genuinely and said, "Good morning, Lovely," and I could feel my whole body beam. I gave her a hug later and told her how much those words meant to me, especially knowing what it cost her to give them away when she was still readying herself for the day.
I thought of the above quote from The Dog Stars in that moment. Her one little bit of encouragement was paving a way for my tenacious outlook on the day. Things felt possible because "I am Lovely."
All throughout the day yesterday I noticed one-on-one conversations between people, and I kept thinking, "This is how we get through a day. This is how we get through a life. One little bit of encouragement at a time. Just enough to make us tenacious. We help each other along. We can, anyway, if we're open to it."