I live in an old building.
The first floor looks much the same as it might have a hundred years ago, with wooden furniture, lace curtains, and newspapers from the 1890s. Most of walls in the outer rooms are decorated with cloth banners of the graduating classes of the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle. The banners are a labor of love; most are sewn, some were quilted, a few are embroidered. The 2011 banner has a painting of the Chautauqua clock tower. 1955’s has a message about God opening windows when he closes doors in block lettering and a gold fringe at the bottom. 1941’s is a plain pale blue with gold letters, all cut carefully from felt. The earliest banners, from the early 1880s, have been recreated and the originals retired to climate-controlled storage in the Archives.
The building was renovated a few years ago, and the grand staircase at the back of the building that had fallen into disrepair was replaced with public restrooms, new stairs, and an elevator. The second floor, now home to the Writers’ Center, where I work, is full of classrooms, an office, and a small, secret library and balcony. The third floor, where I live, is closed to the public, and holds dorms and apartments for visiting writers, the building manager, the housekeeper, and the intern (me).
At the foot of the stairs leading up to the third floor, a wooden sign proclaims “Truth Seekers.” Period. A declarative sentence. I like to think that it means the people who stay on the third floor. I like the idea of writers being seekers of truth, even if not the literal. Even (perhaps especially) in speculative fiction, truth still has to be the goal, the driving force of writing– the truth of people, of interactions, of choices to make when the truth is much too difficult to bear. The truth of concealment, of motives, of love and loss. It’s good to remember that even when writing about things strange and different and with a strong dragon presence.
So, I like it. We are truth seekers, and this is our banner.