Lex Enrico Santí, LCSW, MFA
Letter from the Editor, Summer 2010 originally appeared here at Our Stories Literary Journal
I AM JUST LEAVING THE WILD WORLD OF ABSTRACTION AND IT IS NOT A MINUTE TOO LATE. I have juggled a life full of abstract art, writing and various other art forms in order to collectively thrust myself into as many different aesthetics as possible. I used to create these large bizarre tapestries made out of left over paint and a bed sheet bought from Wall Mart. I never took it too seriously, the painting that is. They are huge homages to Pollock and what not. I am not a painter, I don’t claim to be but they inspired the general feel of the journal and its bizarre cover designs. The literary journal covers have been a bit of an extension of that abstraction, the radiant colors and swirls and manic gestures of liquefied posits. Ughh. Right now, at this stage of my life (or tonight at least) they’re the last thing that I’m interested in. Measured creative arches and splattered passionate gestures, wacky mashups and the such--I am aware that these have all beautiful moments in this journal's history but—I have grown tired of abstraction and the fluffy non-descript gestures of what things are really supposed to mean. I need life to hold steady. I need sure lines and some peace. Part of the reality of life is the fracturing and healing of our world. I take solace in Hemingway's famous quotation, from a Farewell to Arms: "The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong in the broken places. But those that will not break it kills." The fracturing of bones in your body, the heart and love you have to give and the fracturing of your soul’s desire to connect with the world. We grow weary with this thing called life and in these moments when we bury our friends, our lovers and our family members we question our own life and we need steady ground to stand on. Let us grow strong.
I need concrete things in my life, concrete friends, real goals to put forth, real statements from partners and I need to fight for things again. Maybe it comes with finishing this second Masters degree in December. Maybe it is because I’m turning 35 this year and-nudge-nudge-you know what that means (someone let me know, because I’m still trying to figure it out) and maybe it is because I want to lay some roots and get at this thing called life. I am tired of the theory. I am tired of PowerPoint. I am tired of the Huffington Post. I am tired of intentionality. I need to care, deeply care about the friends I have and those that I can still reach before it is too late.
The stories that I’ve picked this quarter I believe reflect that sense of urgency and strike at some concrete realities of life. Read Roy Jefford’s story, you’ll see what I mean. Read Daryl Morazzini’s piece, it’ll scare you into reality. The direct statement. Forget coy. I don’t want to imagine what happened. I’m tired of that. I have too much of that in my life, all of us damn well do. It is time to exorcise those demons. Call your sister tonight and really ask her how she is. Reach out to someone you love and reconnect--no--I’m not talking about poking them on Facebook. Have lunch with an old friend, let yourself unwind over a martini lunch. Do it. I double dog dare you.
Here’s some facts I’ve been dealing with: I dated a woman three years ago who is in bad spot. We very much cared about one another. Things ended like they do. Words were spoken. Apologies answered, commitments promised, only to fall out of contact again. We moved into separate lives. I married the woman of my dreams. My life changed. She changed. I emailed her and never heard responses and surprisingly, even in this world of Facebook and email, we never spoke. Not a word was exchanged in three years. Not because I didn’t want to know about her, I did—it just never happened. I found out last week from her mother that she is now suicidal and an addict. No one can reach her. There’s no way to communicate with her. She’s out there somewhere, hurting and there’s not a damn thing I can do. The imagined life from when we parted three years ago haunts me today. I regret not finding a way. I need the concrete, I need facts. I need to exorcise demons. I pray for her every day now, pray she stays alive. Pray there is no more abstraction in her life—that she does not live for the high but that she just lives.
Let’s get down to business. We’ve been doing this thing at Our Stories for almost five years now and every year we do something different. We’ve gone from a year round free submission system to hosting two short story contests (the EMA and the Richard Bausch Short Story contest) and a flash fiction contest (aptly named the Gordon Award for flash fiction). We do workshops. We blog. We do this all giving you feedback—working for your money, not just sending you curt rejections that leave you with nothing. Our feedback system hasn’t caught on anywhere, no matter how much I taunt other journals. Feh. That’s just more abstraction talking, I don’t taunt anyone—it’s all in my head. I need facts, remember? Well, we’re killing our last free submission period, or well, sort of killing it. You see we’re going to do this new contest period instead. The Generation XYZ contest, tell us a story about how you died in a war, the lithium is too much, you’re obsessed with your friend on Facebook. Tell us a beautiful story and we’ll listen.
Here’s the fact as to why we can’t host an open submission period: the numbers just don’t work the bigger we’ve gotten. Our submissions have climbed 100% every year and we can’t keep growing. It is not fair to you or my staff to short shrift you with poor reviews or my staff with no payment. Those are facts. Those are concrete things. It just doesn’t work. Instead of that open submission on the web we’re building an iPhone app. On that app I will figure out a way for you to submit micro fiction to us from the iPhone and I will reserve space for at least one story a quarter in every issue. And yeah, of course we’ll give you feedback if you don’t get published.
So, friends, this is where I’m at. This is where we are at Our Stories. Tell me where you’re at, I’d love to hear from you, I’m reposting this on my blog. For my old friend out there—please get help—life is too beautiful to throw it all away. Be well everyone. Write well and love one another.