This Week’s Obsession: Welcome Back by Jessica Starika

One of the beautiful and problematic things about the internet is there are so many places to read great stories. Beautiful because we all need more stories in our lives. Problematic because there’s almost no way to read all of them, or even a significant percent of them.

That being said, I love when I discover a new (to me) source for reliably beautiful writing. This week, that has been The Ninth Letter.

Ninth Letter is a collaborative arts and literary project produced by the Creative Writing Program and School of Art & Design at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

First of all, the site is one of those “pleasure to look at, pleasure to interact with sites” with a minimal design that features the writing. As someone who works in web dev, the website for my online consumption is almost as important as the stories themselves. This one is a satisfying win.

On top of that… take a look at the print version. I don’t often buy print as shipping to Bulgaria is hellish. But oh my god. I want those journals in my hands. Please.

To top it all off, Ninth Letter publishes interesting writing. I read Welcome Back by Jessica Staricka and fell in love with it by the end of the third paragraph. Even better, the piece kept me glued to the screen, sinking into it as I read on. Staricka seemed to nail the shifting reality and coping mechanisms associated with mental disassociation. Although I haven’t experienced PTSD, I was able to relate aspects of my anxiety and everyday social pressures to the story.

Also, it had just enough a speculative twist to keep this little magic-loving, other world-seeking reader engaged.

I will always believe in the importance of stories that explore aspects of mental health. Especially PTSD and war. I am happy there are people writing about this and even happier there are people who publish it.


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