Boston real estate broker: Reading The National Enquirer on the 77 bus line
As I do most days I rode my bike from Lexington Center to Arlington Heights bus stop. At that point, I pick up the 77 bus line that takes me to the Redline T stop. to the final destination of my Beacon Hill real estate office
As I sat down on the bus this morning, I was drawn to an old edition of the National Enquirer. I promised myself, don’t get drawn into this scandalous newspaper/magazine.
I read the first line to a story and then the next and next …
What is the purpose of the fourth line of a short story?
According to author George Saunders, it’s quite simple. “Give the reader enough of a jolt to go on to line five.”
His new book, Swimming in a Pond in the Rain, is explicitly a course on writing and reading short stories. Implicitly it also serves as a metaphor for how we write our own lives.
In this context, the purpose of any day is, at a minimum, to ensure we make it to the next. Moving from the metaphorical fourth line to the fifth.
But the words or actions that jolt us to that next line do matter.
The stories we tell can be ill-considered, selfish or agenda-laced like the National Enquirer? Or are they can be generous, and informative?
Are people engaged in our story because we are graciously inviting them in or selfishly tricking them to look?
Upon exiting the 77 bus (taking the National Enquire with me).
I thought to myself I need to be more discerning in both the stories I read and those I write. To consider the jolts I give and the jolts I receive that keep me moving forward. Asking myself, why did I just move from the fourth to the fifth line?
I know that I prefer those stories that draw me in with their honesty, depth, and passion. But if I’m being honest, I more often consume or better yet am bombarded with ones that are little more than “facile, shallow, rapidly disseminated bursts of information.” To again borrow a phrase from Saunders.
“Give the reader enough of a jolt to go on to line five.”
So as we move on throughout our day consuming or creating stories, but perhaps we should pause to consider the jolts we are giving and receiving.