A few weeks ago, the editor of Ruminate emailed me. The journal will be launching a campaign to raise funds. We need three full-time staff members to handle all the work of managing, editing, and marketing and outreach. We currently have two who are paid small stipends (and hold full-time jobs to make a living), and the rest is run by volunteers; this isn’t sustainable anymore.
Fear overwhelmed me.
This fear surprised me, the way a riptide surprises a swimmer and sweeps them from their intended route. And I had to wonder why. Why did this possibility cause me so much fear? Surely I’d realized the possibility before; nothing physical lasts forever. Literary journals cease publication more often than not. Why the sense of loss? That fear of losing something precious?
Then I realized: Ruminate is more than a literary journal. It’s a lifeline.
I live in a technology-drenched area of the country. Rockets and missiles, computer data and quantum mechanics: these flow around me, bewildering and alien to my mind. Even more overwhelming is how all of us, regardless of our personal geography, are drowning in our ocean of objects and phones and computers and i-this-or-that things. Our faces plastered to a screen, texting, sharing, over-sharing, focusing on the almighty i.
I, me, myself, doing this or that on my i-object: I feel like I’m drowning in myself (or a technological version of myself) and I don’t even own a smart phone.
Then I open the pages of Ruminate. The eyes of my heart lift from the surrounding sea of myself, and I see the lifeline thrown to me.
It pulls me toward something beyond myself. The art and poetry and prose link me to beauty, all those good and fearsome incarnations of it It links me to truth, to questions about truth, to all the vast implications of what it means to live in truth.
Gulp it into my lungs.
No longer drown in fear.
Or, if the fear does not disappear, it shifts into holy fear. Take off your shoes, for this is holy ground. Grab this lifeline of beauty and truth, for it will free you from yourself.
How can I bear to see this end?
I read fiction submissions for the journal. I have marveled at the range of quality, voices, and ideas that fill my slush pile.
The best stories captivate me. I’m inspired to be a better writer and, more importantly, to be a better person. Some are glorious failures, the promise hidden beneath poor editing. Some aren’t.
But they all serve a purpose. I’m reminded that some person sat and wrote a story, cared enough about their narrative to try to capture it on paper; they may have failed, but they tried. The author cared about words and stories, and believed in their power to capture reality, move a reader’s heart, or change the world. They had the urge to create. So they did.
But when the stories succeed, they are glorious. I read them, finish, and immediately want to read them again. I look at the visual art, savor the poetry, delight at the prose, and realize that this lifeline is stronger than I’d first imagined. I grab this offering. I wrestle with it, phrase by phrase, image by image, working with the art as it tugs me toward truth and beauty.
Those who have created this art and those who throw out that lifeline, who invest time and energy into putting this journal into our hands, should be paid.
This gives them the ability to continue creating, to continue throwing out those life lines. Line after line after line to people like you and me, desperate and drowning in ourselves. We need art the way those caught by a riptide need rescue.
I believe that, and I believe that you do, too. And right now, it matters that you care enough to take action. Won’t you consider making a donation today? Every dollar counts.
Even if you cannot donate money, you know people who can and will. Each of us has a wide range of contacts through our social media accounts, and we cannot know who among them will be moved to help us.
Please share this post. Share our need with your connections. Facebook, Twitter, personal blogs: all of those are full of people who believe what you and I know to be true.
Art matters. Help us continue our work.