Read for a Change
by Kevin Neilson
Sally Weigle is a sophomore at DePaul Univeristy. She made her writing debut last fall with the novella Too Young to Fall Asleep. Besides reading and writing, she enjoys iced coffee, floral prints, and walking around bare foot. For more on Sally, please visit her website, where her published writings can be found.
Who are you?
I am a 19-year-old Chicagoan who spends my time biking, exploring, adventuring, writing, and reading. When I am not reading, I am studying to get a degree in English literature and when I am not studying, I am on the back porch of my apartment drinking coffee with friends.
What was the last book you read, and how did you like it?
The last book I read was Evasion, whose author is unknown. The book is published with CrimethInc. Workers’ Collective, and the author’s identity is purposefully kept from the reader in order to keep with the company’s underground, punk manifesto. The book chronicles a young kid who lives outside the confines of corporate America by train-hopping, squatting, and dumpster diving. I read it for research for my next story. There’s a whole culture of young anarchist punks running around America and writing about their experiences as they protest the capitalist structure. Although one of these kids wrote Evasion, there still is very little, if any at all, literary fiction on the subject. I’m hoping to delve into the subject of this sub-culture for my next story. Stay tuned.
Do you ever kiss a line, a page, or a cover of a book?
Yes, all the time! I have journals full of lines or pages of books, articles, comics and song lyrics that I have had the desire to kiss because it moves me. If my house were to set on fire, I would without a doubt grab my journals first to save from the flames. The last quote I wrote down was from an interview I read with author Paul Auster. He was asked about the “isolation fantasies” present in his fiction and said, “There’s love and certainly children you care about more than yourself. But nevertheless, we’re alone in our heads.” I totally agree. I’m a quiet person myself, but I’ve come to the conclusion it’s because my mind is elsewhere a good portion of my day. I’m a terrible driver for this reason as well. It’s not that I don’t know how to drive, it’s just that the minute I get into a car, my mind thinks of storylines or interactions I had with people that day or how the tree down the block looks mesmerizing with the daylight sun shining through its leaves. Even if I share my thoughts, at the end of the day, no one knows what’s going through my head.
What is the greatest treasure you’ve unearthed at a used bookstore?
Eugene Ionseco’s The Hermit. I had read Ionesco’s play Rhinoceros and fell in love with it. After reading it though, I wanted to see how Ionesco went about writing a novel. I had his novel The Hermit on my must read list for a year before I found it in a small, used bookstore in Chicago. I’m happy I did because I almost died when I read the following excerpt: “I thought that it was strange to assume that it was abnormal for anyone to be forever asking questions about the nature of the universe, about what the human condition really was, my condition, what I was doing here, if there was really something to do. It seemed to me on the contrary that it was abnormal for people not to think about it, for them to allow themselves to live, as it were, unconsciously. Perhaps it’s because everyone, all the others, are convinced in some unformulated, irrational way that one day everything will be made clear. Perhaps there will be a morning of grace for humanity. Perhaps there will be a morning of grace for me.” I read this in high school, as an introspective, curious person surrounded by many self-absorbed teenagers, so the quote resounded with me, to say the least.
Can wisdom be found in novels?
I read because I am so adamant that wisdom can be found in novels. The amazing thing with literature is that it changes people in the most effective way. People rarely change their lifestyle or mindset because someone tells them to. Literature, on the other hand, allows a person to go through the conflict of another individual as if they are going through it themselves. And if the story is successful, the reader changes at the end of the story with the protagonist. It’s a different kind of wisdom in novels. The reader is given enough freedom to decide whether or not they want to be changed and in what way they want to be changed.
How important is plot to you?
Very, very important. For a long time, I wrote stories without plots. It was more akin to poetry. Now I write plots and storylines and poetry naturally surfaces in my writing. If I’m lucky, not only does poetry surface but so does theme and meaning. In the beginning of my writing process, all I start with is a plot. I do this because I think the plot is the part of the story that needs to be crafted most carefully. It rarely comes out organically. If you try to write without thinking of plot, most likely you will end up writing a story without action and thus, no clear beginning or end. Plot needs to be imagined, forced and constructed before writing even begins, in my opinion. Although, rarely do I construct just how the character deals with the plot. Almost every aspect of writing for me springs forth from me during the writing process, except for plot. That being said, as a reader, the plot doesn’t usually become the main component of the story for me. I do not need a lot to happen but I do need something to happen. The characters and the writing are most important when reading, but I think the plot needs to be there, almost invisibly.