Sometimes I worry about publishing stories similar to something we’ve previously published. I mean, don’t readers expect magazines—especially literary magazines—to keep things fresh, to introduce them to new ideas and experiences on a regular basis? I know I have that expectation of the magazines that I subscribe to.
Then my sister and I took our annual trip to Ashland, Oregon, where we saw three plays at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. With one exception, we have gone every year since 2005. This year we saw King Lear, My Fair Lady, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. And do you know what? It was not the first time we had seen OSF do a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In fact, over the six years that we have gone, we have seen several plays more than once—because they are that good.
Not only have I seen live productions of the plays more than once, but also I have read them more than once. There are other books I’ve read more than once as well, namely The Great Gatsby, on which I did most of my undergraduate research. I still have the copy that I read over and over while I was in college, complete with all my handwritten notes and underlining. It’s a loved copy.
This tells me that even when stories have similarities, we read them anyway. And we reread the same stories. Why do we do this?
Well I can answer for myself and say that I watch the plays more than once because each performance brings something new to the story and inevitably I take away something new. I believe the same thing happens when we write and share our stories. Just because there are similarities to someone else’s doesn’t make them any less impactful—if anything the opposite is true. Similarities in stories demonstrate the power of the human experience. Similarities in stories are what unite us as fellow journeyers as we try to find our way and make sense of life. Not only that, but also each writer has a unique voice that brings a new perspective to this thing we call the human condition.
I think you will see some similarities in the stories of this issue. There are themes of longing for family connection, doing everything possible just to make it through the day, trying to find a place of belonging, and of expecting more from our fellow man. Maybe you will find a similarity between the stories in these pages and your own. If that is the case then (and I’ve said this before) we are doing our job.
If you like what we are doing here at Under the Gum Tree, the best way you can support us (after subscribing or buying a copy, thank you!) is to share the magazine with someone you know who might also like to support us.
Thank you and, as always, here’s to telling stories without shame,
Janna Marlies Maron
Editor & Publisher