Why Do You Write?
A letter from the editor
First: No, I don’t use the Oxford comma. I never will. It was beaten out of me during journalism school at the University of Texas at Austin. Deal with it.
Second: Have you ever been asked this, “Why do you write?” question by a complete stranger? I get asked that question, or some variation of it, ALL THE TIME. It could possibly be because I work in the financial services industry and I have for over ten years now; but when I share anecdotes about SLM, my book or my other writing with new people, they have trouble grasping the concept. My favorite question? “Oh, writing? What got you into that?” It’s laughable, I know. What got us into this? We are what got us into this. Because it’s who we are. It’s what we do. It’s why we are all here. We all find joy, pain, sorrow and catharsis through this process of creation.
I have written, re-written, deleted, thrown away pages full of embarrassingly bad, disingenuous writing, cursed the laptop screen and come up blank (more times than I care to share with you) for months and months now as I have tried to write an editorial to open Sick Lit (or SLM) back up for submissions.
Because, yes, while I’m here to publish your work, I can’t just ignore what’s been happening in the world.
It’s the biggest damn elephant I’ve ever had in my metaphorical room and I don’t know how to address it. It leads down so many different tangents and corridors that it’s nearly impossible for me to properly handle the current state of the world with care in this little misfit magazine’s editorial note. But at the same time I would be remiss if I DIDN’T address it. You can see where my head has been as I have tried and failed to write this, right?
Since the beginning of this calendar year, our world has been comprised of nothing but moving parts of equal chaos that, somehow, just keeps continuing and changing as the days turn into weeks and the weeks turn into months…and suddenly, it’s June.
I keep hearing talk about, “What’s going to happen next? What’s next?” Aliens, asteroids, murder hornets, martial law, some variation of the Hulu original series The Handmaid’s Tale?
Here’s one thing I can tell you with an exact certainty: just like before the pandemic began, we do not know what tomorrow will be like. We just don’t. So we have to realize that all we can control is what we can control, which is ourselves and our actions. How we treat one another. That is what we can control. And that’s it. We cannot carry the weight of the world on our shoulders 23.56 hours a day. *Note: I am NOT in any way, shape or form referring to the events of late involving the horrific killing of George Floyd; this is not the only death that has occurred like this. I am beyond sickened by what happened to this man among so many other people in the black community. I would like to address this topic in a separate editorial note, as it is one that deserves its own space, attention and opportunity for a forum for open discussion.*
So, yeah, I’ve been on somewhat of a hiatus…which means that the magazine has also been on hiatus. *For those of you who are new here, I am Sick Lit Magazine.*
As I sit here in my jeans and tank top, listening to a playlist comprised entirely (and completely unintentionally, if you can believe it) of random songs from the mid- to late- ’90s grunge and indie scene, I can’t help but feel as though I’m a walking caricature of myself. I’m 36, divorced and here I sit, writing and listening to songs that served as the soundtrack for my coming-of-age years. They provided the perfect backdrop for my addled adolescent existence.
I digress, like I always do, but let’s get back to what we’re here to do: WRITE. CREATE.
Now: please don’t beat yourself up if you have been suffering from writer’s block. So have I. Big time. We can’t be creative all the time; we can’t work all the time; we can’t be parents all the time; we can’t be productive all the time. We’re human. It’s that simple. It is physically impossible to be productive at all hours of the day.
Look: throughout this pandemic, I’ve watched friends and family rearrange and clean their entire homes, refinish cabinets, paint the outside and inside of their homes, create board games out of uncooked macaroni noodles, yarn and cardboard – and here I am, wearing the same outfit for the third day in a row, hair unwashed, stumbling out of bed in the morning thinking, “Did I drool in my sleep? Do I drool now? Is this my life?” utterly disgusted with myself and also still half-asleep, before I make my way to the coffee-maker, then to my laptop to work my day job remotely.
And depending on if I have my kids or not, I have been homeschooling and juggling work, cutting up apples and strawberries for snack time while I have my phone cradled in between my neck and shoulder, talking to a client or participating on a group coaching call…and then I look over and see that my cactus died. What the hell, man? It’s a CACTUS. And I live in TEXAS. Cue my confusion and me, shaking my head at the ridiculousness and irony of this.
And, trust me when I say this, I’m not looking for sympathy or anything here: I basically sit in my own filth until my children return and I actually have to clean the downstairs a little bit and restock the fridge.
And, no, my friends, this is not the definition of depression – not while we’re all living in this post-apocalyptic nightmare that has become our lives – this is survival. And I’m doing a pretty damn good job. I’m a single mom and it’s no secret to you guys (my faithful readers, writers and artists) that life hasn’t exactly been kind to me since I began this venture that is SLM. But, you know what? I feel like I’m made of steel now. It took a lot of pain to get here, but I am here. I’m here. And I’m okay. Naysayers be damned.
FINALLY, ONTO…(drumroll please)…SUBMISSIONS!
Yes, we are officially opening back up for submissions!!
I tend to have mixed feelings about prompts and themes, but I think we can all challenge ourselves with something different, so let’s do this! Let’s mix it up and have some damn fun with it!
What I want from you is: you.
I want raw, magnetic, compelling, truthful writing that makes you feel like you’re on fire (figuratively, of course. Not actually on fire), whether you choose to write to a prompt or you choose to write from your gut. And, I, for one, can’t wait to see what you guys have in store for me.
(If you know me or this publication at all, then you will know that I appreciate thinking that goes way beyond the obvious when it relates to themes and prompts.)
The Two Themes are:
Time: Interpret this one as you like; take it and run with it. Explore the concept of writing with a choppy timeline that somehow comes together in the end; explore themes that embody the present, past and future. I also found this one oh-so-fitting because of how time has seemed to run together while we’ve all been under quarantine.
Intangibles: Intangibles. I mean, what more can I say? They’re what we’re all in pursuit of! But it’s not as though we can go on a scavenger hunt for them and stash them away, only later to pull them from some secret drawer to access whenever we want.
The Two Writing Prompts are:
Ten Years: “Predict” for me, if you will, in your fictional account, the succession of events that will happen from tomorrow on until the year 2030. You can do this countless ways; start in the year 2030 and look back. You can start now and describe what your character sees happening next, etc, etc, etc. Let the words flow and see where it takes your character – what journey do they end up on? What paths or choices are they given?
Dreams: Where do we actually go in our dreams? Think beyond REM sleep and sleep disorders. I want this to be about the absolute and utter nonsense that we dream; but also about some of the strange coincidences that happen in our dreams. And then the, “too real to be a dream” dreams. Dive deep into this concept and create me something absolutely vivid and haunting.
ALL SUBMISSIONS MUST BE SENT TO: email@example.com
WHAT’S THE PROCESS? Just like before, I want you to put the name of the prompt/theme into the subject of your e-mail. If you are NOT writing to a prompt/theme, then please write, “no prompt” as the subject of your e-mail. I will stress that you should write an authentic message to me in the body of your e-mail – DO NOT try and pitch me. Don’t sell to me. I’m not that gal – I want you to be YOU. You may either paste your submission into the body of your e-mail or attach it was a Word document. Please, no PDFs; and I say no PDFs because if I accept your work, I cannot transfer it to the site for publishing.
WHAT’S THE RESPONSE TIME GOING TO LOOK LIKE? WHAT ABOUT THE 100 UNANSWERED MESSAGES I SENT YOU OVER THE LAST YEAR? Now, I have to preface this with: give me a little time, as I have a job and I have little ones AND I run this ship solo, you guys. There are only 23.56 hours in a day and depending on how many submissions I receive, it might take some time. And if you DID send me 100 messages and never heard back, that’s life, my friend! Send that shit to me again and let’s move on! But I am extremely excited about all of this. I believe my exact words a few hours ago were that I felt “pure, unbridled joy” at the mere thought of diving back into SLM and reconnecting with each and every one of you.
Reconnecting with you guys via Twitter yesterday warmed my heart. I can’t express to you enough how much I appreciate, miss and love all of you and your support. Your work makes this site what it is: special. It’s unlike any other literary magazine because of YOU. I’m honored to be the home for your work.
Let’s get some shit done; let’s make some magic. I’m thrilled to be back here.
Cheers, peace and love, my SLM family xx
Editor-in-Chief, Kelly Fitzharris