One day about two years ago, I received a direct mail piece about a literary magazine called The Sun. Because I subscribe to several writing magazines and most publications sell their mailing list to other so-called “partners,” I just assumed, at first, that it was another piece of mail I’d be round-filing. But out of curiosity, I read it first. And then did a double-take. Inside the advertisement was a flash fiction story called “Dinosaur,” by Bruce Holland Rogers.  Flash fiction is basically a very short, complete story that is told in as few words as possible, generally under one page. When I was in college during the 70s, taking creative writing classes, we never discussed flash fiction (also known as micro fiction, sudden fiction, short-short stories, or simply very short stories), but one thing we did learn about short stories in general is that every element in them needs to have a reason for being there. Flash fiction takes this requirement to an extreme. In any event, “Dinosaur” was such a poignant story (click on the link for the story in this paragraph, and see if you don’t agree) that I wondered what else might be found between the covers of The Sun magazine. And I’ve been a subscriber ever since.

It turns out that every issue of The Sun magazine is a keeper. This is a skinny monthly publication, easily read in several sittings before the next issue comes out. Although they’re not in color, the glossy black-and-white photos always tell a story. One of my favorite ways to begin a story is to use a meaningful photo as a writing prompt, and The Sun is filled with them, beginning with the cover of each issue.

May cover

One of my favorite sections of the magazine is called Readers Write. Nope, this is not a Letters to the Editor section (although you’ll find that, too). Readers Write is a selective non-fiction section filled with readers’ responses to a list of topics, one per month. The topic for May, for example, is “Speaking Up.” Responses range from a story about good sportsmanship to a memorial piece concerning the Holocaust.

Readers Write

The editors of the magazine describe the section as follows:

READERS WRITE asks readers to addresss subjects on which they’re the only authorities. Topics are intentionally broad in order to give room for expression. Writing style isn’t as important as thoughtfulness and sincerity.

JournalWhen I read the list of upcoming topics, it occurred to me that these topics are so broad, they are perfect for journaling:

  • Danger
  • Family Vacations
  • Clothes
  • First Love
  • Appetites
  • Holding On

In every issue you’ll find essays, interviews, fiction, poetry and even a collection of quotations in a department called Sunbeams. The Sun, a non-profit magazine, has been around for 40 years. One of its readers, Pat Mullaney, describes the magazine by saying, “The Sun is to publishing what A Prairie Home Companion is to radio: quietly revolutionary, selectively anachronistic, unfashionably idealistic.” If you’re interested, visit The Sun online and sample some of this issue’s current offerings. The magazine is available in both paper and digital format.

© 2014 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

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