July 14, 2016 § Leave a comment
I went to St. Louis this week. Ostensibly, it was a 4-hour drive for a 20-minute interview. In application, it was such a departure from my regular world that those hours were but the walk on a hero’s journey. I dropped in at two bookstores where we’re trying to stock The New Territory. I’ve always loved perusing these places when I visit the city, and there’s a golden oddness to walking up to the familiar counters, saying I have a question, saying, “I publish this magazine,” and sliding it forward. The guys at both stores had already seen it on their review stack (I’d mailed copies several weeks ago), and one said he was a fan. A fan! This looked like a well-read man. He sounded completely earnest. I think I melted a little bit. I regret not sticking around to talk to him, asking him about himself. Ask him why he appreciated the magazine so much, sure, but also just connect more like, as a human. My star-struckedness kept me from chatting like I usually would. He’ll remain a mystery in the distance until I can go there again.
And then, exhibit 2: People I work with or already know. Kelly Moffitt, who also went to Mizzou, knew about the magazine and invited me to talk about it on St. Louis Public Radio’s St. Louis on the Air, which feels like a huge break and really thrilling opportunity. I’m so grateful to Kelly for reaching out. She got Hug #1. Then, I was joined in the interview by Kella Thornton, a writing professor in the St. Louis area who shared a Mizzou mentor with me a few years earlier. At the start of The New Territory, she graciously agreed to help edit stories and is working on a killer lyrical essay for Issue 02: In Defense. She’s been great to collaborate with on the phone, Google Docs, Twitter and Instagram, and it was so good to meet her in person! Hug #2. We got lunch at a really sweet bakery wonderland and talked for probably two hours. I could have stayed longer. There can never be enough creative, enthusiastic people in my life.
On a sidenote, I also stopped in Chesterfield to set up my next tattoo (!).
As I write this, I flick my screen to Twitter and Facebook, yearning for social interaction, and avoiding Gmail because it reminds me of all the things I have to do that aren’t related to the magazine. I could edit and email writers 100 hours a week and not get tired. I don’t have stamina for much else these days. It’s the people and this network we’re creating all across the Midwest that makes the project real and worth it to me. I’m so happy to connect, redistribute wealth where I can, and prove this region is strong with inspiring people.