Saturday, January 06, 2007


I like to celebrate Epiphany. One year Alvina and I celebrated it together with a drink together in Bemelman’s which could be the most beautiful bar in the world – all the walls are painted with designs that look like Madeline (Bemelman made the murals in exchange for living rent free at the Carlyle!).

Epiphany is the twelfth night after Christmas, when (in the story: I’m trying to say this without sounding religious, which I'm not!) the wise men recognized the divinity of that baby. I think it’s a great holiday for writers to celebrate,--James Joyce said that every short story should be an epiphany – a sudden recognition of the divine nature or essence of something. I think of it as having something in your writing that suddenly SHOWS readers something, makes them think or notice something they haven't thought of or appreciated in that way before.....maybe something little but still something interesting and even important (universal maybe is a better word). Reading can part the curtain between the everyday and its meaning, and I hope my writing does, even if just for a minute, even if only in a few places within the whole book. Funny and lighthearted stories can do this just as well (if not better, when you're writing for kids especially!) than serious ones,I think - but that's another topic.

Epiphany or Twelfth Night was also the last day of Christmas in England in the Middle Ages – and that’s worth celebrating, too. Someday I’d like to give a big Epiphany party with a yule log and feasting and dancing and everything(maybe even a Lord or Lady of Mirsule!), but for now I’ll settle for a quiet celebration alone or with good friends, something to mark the real end of the holidays and the beginning of a new year of writing.

More on that new year of writing in my next post. For now, may the New Year bring us all many epiphanies – in our reading and in our writing!


Anonymous said...

Happy Epiphany!

Sometime the kid-lit bloggers' drink night should be at Bemelman’s. I think the drinks are a little pricey, but what the hey.

"Reading can part the curtain between the everyday and its meaning..." I'll drink to that!

Anonymous said...

Oh, oh, oh! Here's a subject I'd like you *all* to weigh in on: how and when do your story epiphanies appear to you in the creation process?

Do you begin a project knowing the epiphany you want to share, and then build a story around it?

Or do you simply write a story and maybe, if you're lucky, an epiphany appears, seemingly out of nowhere?

What if you write a whole story and no epiphany appears? Do you scrap it? Is it a requirement for a story?

And how come my own blog doesn't inspire these kinds of questions and thoughts in me?

Libby Koponen said...

Thanks! Julie, that's a great idea (meeting at Bemelman's), Yes, it is expensive but hey, it won't be a tragedy fr me anyway to limit the # of drinks I order....and those murals are worth it. Let's do it! Thanks for the idea. Maybe we (whoever we are, it would be fun to find out) could even make it a traidtion to meet there on Epiphany.

Thank you for responding: I was amost afaid to post this so especcially appreciated people's comments (I always do, but sometimes they are reassuring as well as being welcome).

As for epiphanies: in my work they just appear (or not) for readers & no two readers have the same ones. I am always surprised when people tell me what the book made them feel, think, remember....these surprises are part of the fun of being an author.

Thank you both for your fun comments and happy Epiphany!

Anonymous said...

Good answer, Libby. For me, anyway. I worry all the time that I don't have any deep insights, universal wisdom, or answers to share with young readers. I trip and stumble through life just like they do, feeling my way, guessing, hoping.

It's a relief to think I don't have to create epiphanies.

Anonymous said...

I love Epiphany too! My family has a silly feast where we dress up in crowns and bathrobes and address eachother as royalty while eating Chinese take out.

But we also share our favorite, or maybe our most difficult, journey of the year, physical or otherwise.

As a writer, I like to think about those magi traveling by night in the desert following nothing more definate than a star which, if you read the scriptures closely, only they can see. Could there be a better metaphor for a writers life? Even better they think they are going to find a king, but they end up meeting the child of paupers for whom their gifts are no use at all.

For me Epiphany reminds me to be faithful to my writing journey even when it takes me in a totally unanticipated direction and not to judge my results hastily.

So happy Epiphany to all you writers and artists making your way across the desert in the dark. I feel better already knowing I'm not the only one on the journey.


Libby Koponen said...

Rosanne what a great comment! I love the way you describe Epiphany -- I had forgotten or never known that only they could see the star. It IS all a great metaphor for a writer's life. And I love your family's silly (but great) feast, too. Thank you for sharing.

Do you have any books out there we can read?

Thank you Julie and A and Rosanne: your responses to this post have made me like blogging again. We are all on that journey in the desert, following stars (our own) only we can see and it's good to be communicating with fellow travellers.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Libby,
My first book won't be out until the fall of 08, but there is a beautiful new book about the jouney of the magi called Alphabet of Dreams by Susan Fletcher.

I've been enjoying your blog for a few months now, so I'll have to post more often.