By Morgan Middleton, 2018-19 editor-in-chief
Honesty? What does it mean? More importantly, what does it feel like? To me, it feels like Little Fiction and Big Truths.
The moment I read the journal’s title, I felt inclined to click. Because to me, and I’m sure to many other young writers and editors, there is a constant search for truth, for individuality, and for honesty. And while those qualities may seem redundant, I don’t believe they are. To me, truth has never meant honesty. Truth feels like circumstance, and honesty feels like a state of mind–a raw emotion of that circumstance.
Little Fiction and Big Truths makes the truth feel honest.
Published the first Wednesday of every month, the stories and essays on the journal’s website are all unique and tailored perfectly. Tailored not for their audiences, but for the authors. Isn’t that what’s supposed to be important to an author? We write for ourselves: a concept that a lot of us struggle with while composing our stories into text.
Emily O’Neill’s “Do Nothing Unless It Feeds You” was the first piece that I read in Little Fiction and Big Truths. This essay explores Emily’s struggles with an eating disorder. “For me, food is a kind of anxiety,” Emily writes. “There is no table where I can sit without being afraid of what might happen. I talk too much when I go out for dinner, a kind of avoidance. I order more than I can take, a kind of insurance. It will be okay to stop before the plate is empty. It’s not a sign of relapse to not finish every bite. No one will make me eat the mistake, reheated, for breakfast. I will not cry.” As someone who has also suffered from the (seemingly) endless self-loathing and self-harm connected to this highly addictive disease, I appreciated how vulnerable she was on the page. Emily was a ballerina, Emily wanted to be loved, Emily wanted help and didn’t know how to ask for it. Emily was me.
A common misconception about eating disorders: we do it because we think we’re fat. Maybe that’s the truth most of the time, but it sure as hell isn’t the honest answer. We do it because we hurt. We do it because we are too afraid to take the next step in self harm, and we believe everyone prefers the skinny girl over the less-invisible forms of self-harm, ones that will eventually line the curves of the hidden portion of our thighs. We don’t all do it because we’re fat or feel fat. We do it because we’re really fucking sad and nobody noticed. “But even if you couldn’t see the sick,” Emily writes, “it was everywhere, migraines needling my eye sockets.” Her pain wasn’t just for print. It was real.
Writing about our painful experiences shouldn’t necessarily be painful, and reading about painful experiences shouldn’t have to be painful either. It should, or could, be cathartic and beautiful, like our humanity and desire to tell the story. That’s something I truly believe Little Fiction and Big Truths understands and portrays through its selection of works. Each piece holds its own home as an icon on your screen as you scroll down the “collections” tab. A little picture or clip art is attached to the piece, as a way to your draw attention to the stories and essays. To feel even closer to the authors, you can access some of their writing playlists, as well as the authors’ descriptions of how the songs helped. The site links to the songs on Spotify. The opportunity to listen to the songs, while reading the stories, helped me feel closer to the author and the story. This, to me, keeps the writing process honest. I hate to admit my naiveté, and possible ignorance to the craft, but I always imagined that authors sat down at their computer one day and wrote a masterpiece—probably with coffee in hand and their cat weaving in between their legs. Little Fiction and Big Truths brought the process to life, and I was not only closer to learning the story of the author, but a step closer to understanding the reality of the literary world—honest and welcoming.
Little Fiction and Big Truths is one of the few literary magazines where I can feel the soul and passion behind the words on the screen. The site isn’t too flashy, because it doesn’t need to be— it doesn’t change the beautiful stories that are being told through their online platform. Art should never be forced. Stories shouldn’t be told because they will get the most clicks, views, or shares, but because the story needs to be told. And I don’t mean the version that our shame has been edited out of, but the real story, the honest story. The story that makes us cry on our keyboard as we type the words, feeling each one over and over again. The best stories break hearts, and, ironically, they sometimes mend them too. Thank you, Little Fiction and Big Truth: for the little fiction, and the big truths.