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It’s that time again. Our intrepid literary zine is now accepting submissions! I know, right? Issue 3, already! Can you believe it? Are you wondering how we do it? (Cue vigorous nodding.)
Honestly, sometimes, we almost don’t. Sometimes, say, after a grueling year of editing your favorite new publication, sometimes we consider throwing in the towel, we consider careers as astronauts or venture capitalists or trophy wives. Sometimes we wonder how anything ever becomes anything at all.
And then we remember: Anything that is anything now was nothing before it was something. And between that nothing and something was an idea that could have been abandoned somewhere in the forest of almost. How many ideas have we forgotten because we didn’t write them down, or because we wrote them off when they sounded hard? How many magazines don’t exist for every one page we manage to manifest? That forest of almost is easy to miss, what with all those trees in the way.
Too often we forget how much of anything is simply an accumulation, of trees, of words, of time, just putting one foot in front of the other while we’re lost in the forest, before we can see what — if anything — is ahead. In order to do something, anything, we decide to stop being afraid of that dark mystery almost, our fear of what it will or won’t be, and instead just to do it anyway. We quit acting like our lives won’t start until certain impossible criteria are met. We do it now. We venture into almost and see what happens.
So, in the spirit of things we almost didn’t do — like start this magazine, but aren’t we glad we did! — we are excited to announce the theme of our third issue, you guessed it: We Still Like Almost.
In the Almost issue, we’ll be raising our glass and putting down ink in honor of all that is almost finished, almost perfect, almost famous, almost here, almost gone, almost over. Here’s to what’s on the brink, what’s still a sliver of possibility, what’s potential energy on the cusp of becoming kinetic. We’re collecting the ephemeral and the phantom, all that very nearly was or is about to be, any Nice Trys or Pipe Dreams you’ve got lying around. We want to talk about approximations, about the spaces in between in-betweens (call them liminal if you’re in grad school). Let’s defy definition, defy inner critics, defy genre. Send us poetry, fiction, foetry, lyric essays, factual fairy tales, love notes folded into fortune cookies, the cover letter you wrote for the job you didn’t want anyway. We want your unchecked to-do lists, your receded hairline, your fumbled pass. Send us pieces written by your imaginary friends, drawings of the ideas you had but then forgot, uninventions, photographs of ghosts, your collection of error messages and returned diamond rings. Send us anything ALMOST.
You have almost (that is to say slightly-more-than) one month: The deadline is February 14. If your work almost fits the theme, or doesn’t fit at all, that’s fine too, send it anyway. And, if you almost miss the deadline... well, you get the idea.
We’ve got a fancy new submission form where you can upload your anything-almost here: http://westilllike.
Sure, it’s the Shoulda-Coulda-Woulda issue. But we won’t take any excuses.
We’re Almost There!
We Still Like
Preview the issue
Bradford Earle & Tupelo Hassman
Rose Haynes & Andy Touhy
Jennifer Williams & Nick McClintock
We love you! Seriously, like a lot a lot.
Stay tuned for the big reveal: Issue Three will open for submissions November 1.
Oh yeah and in the meantime, here's a slideshow from our backyard release party. Remember June?
You'll be seeing our smiling faces this Friday down at Oakland's Art Murmur art walk as part of the fantastic Invisible City Audio Tours happening from 5-8pm.
Join us and let 12 authors—including several featured in the pages of We Still Like—guide you around Oakland with their voices and stories. Click over to Invisible City Audio Tours for more info (plus read our write-up of the first happening, here).
And while you're there you can pick up a copy of WSL:Gravity if you haven't yet. We're planning a special free-with-purchase surprise for you all, as part of our subscription drive at IndieGoGo. Did we mention our subscription drive at IndieGoGo? Go-go on over and send us some love. There's only a few days left to help make sure WSL can keep bringing you likeable likery from here on out.
Recently I found myself standing among a group of strangers on a street corner in Oakland, all of us with earbud headphones in. It could have been any other afternoon near a stoplight, but today at this stoplight we were all listening to the same thing: my words, spoken in my voice. Not unlike at any other reading of my work, I was a little shaky and could barely make eye contact. This time, however, I wasn’t actually speaking.
It was the first of many Invisible City Audio Tours, a nonprofit specializing in surreal tourism—exploring unexplored neighborhoods through the work of authors, composers, and artists instead of guidebooks. The first tour, Heliography, commissioned work from 12 writers, each of us assigned an address along the stretch of Telegraph Avenue between MacArthur BART and the Uptown gallery district of Oakland.
Invisible City’s founder, Tavia Stewart-Streit, encouraged us to visit each spot and stay awhile, finding new ways to notice these atypical points of interest—a freeway underpass, a mortuary, a wig store. Once our short fictions were complete, she sent us to the recording studio, where into the microphone our stories went.
As far as I understand it, the rest of her process involved incredible feats of strength, a rallying of the populace, many sleepless nights, and a donated fleet of GM automobiles. Artists were commissioned to create “souvenirs” to sell at each landmark. Composer Jesse Solomon Clark created a musical landscape to bridge the spaces between stories and stops. Audio was mixed and podcastified. Maps were printed. Then, along with more than 100 other tourists, we took to the streets.
That’s how I found myself attending my own reading for the very first time. There, in front of the wig store, listeners were pooling around a table full of lovely illustrated zines about the history of hairstyles. Some of them were looking through the zines, some were looking at each other, some were looking at me, and then right past me as if I were just another listener. And I almost was.
It occurred to me (only then, in that overwhelming moment) how unusual an opportunity this was, the one I was right then squelching by avoiding eye contact as if suddenly they all knew a secret about me. When else is a writer able to examine the faces of her “readers” so closely (or to see she has readers at all), able to catch microexpression flashes of understanding or enjoyment or revulsion or worse? Short of such writerly acts of subtlety as donning sunglasses and a hat at an event, or sneaking up behind someone after “accidentally” leaving out a copy of one’s book—probably never. Certainly, we will never get to read our own work and understand it the way anyone else does. The chance to hear it as someone else does is almost as impossible. To roam freely through the landscape of listeners, wordless but knowing you are heard—what a strange, trembling miracle.
As miracles go, I was seriously failing to appreciate this one, thanks to the terror of witnessing people’s reactions and the extra terror of realizing I had zero control over what those reactions were. Of course, we never do. Text and meaning-making have always been the province of the reader, though a writer’s sense of ownership often outlasts its expiration date. But this time, without the prop of a podium or the chance for revision on the fly, I didn’t have even the illusion that I was involved in the act of experiencing my work. Once my words went down the rabbit hole of that microphone, I was finished.
Finished is that rare feeling that comes along once every other blue moon or so and feels remarkably like a stomach ache. It seems like it should be a triumphant HaHaTakeThat! Instead, all I felt was humbled, this self becoming smaller and my tiny story growing larger, snaking out of the layer of ego that must be shed (new ego skin still raw underneath) once a work becomes itself in the world.
Finished, as it turns out, means standing naked in the street and not pretending you’re an emperor or that anyone will notice or care. (This is the Bay Area after all, where nudists and writers alike come a dime a dozen.) And there I stood—all at once exposed and insignificant, an author completely displaced—so that I could be moved, if you will, by words that had been mine before they found their place.
It sounds debilitating, but I assure you it’s also warm and inspiring. We should be so lucky to feel that way more often: writers working independently but as part of something larger than our own neurotic brains, something strangers are as excited by as we are—when usually we’re each holed up in a closet-office somewhere, revisions blurring, pages spewing straight out of the printer and into the drawer, years on end, on end, amen. Finishing feels like being among the living again.
That night a few writers got to feel like real live people, or like visual artists with the gift of a tangible space to correspond with their words, a distance from which to appreciate them. Like at the end of a sitcom, we all learned something about ourselves: that many of us wrote about refracting light, that many of us recorded barefoot, that our words could hang on the air before us and be untethered from us and be free. It was a wonderful kind of strange I hope everyone gets to feel.
You can take the tour anytime (or any place), but for the full effect check out the next Invisible City happening Friday, Oct. 1, in Oakland—ride BART to the MacArthur station, then make your way past 12 surreal stops before you arrive in the epicenter of Art Murmur, the city’s monthly art walk. Make sure to begin the tour before 7 p.m. to catch all the souvenirs (like oasis sand globes, miniature dioramas, and beer koozies) and surprises along the way.
Download the stories for free (at www.invisiblecityaudiotours.org), throw them on your iDevice, and swing by on Oct. 1. If you see me there, I hope you say hello. I’ll be the one at the wig store with my headphones in, giving you a funny look.
Yes, our acting troupe is available for your party or event. Will work for literature.
We also work for tips! Make sure to check out our subscription drive over at IndieGoGo. Clean out the cup holders in your car, hand us your change and help us make more of what we know you still like!
Stay tuned for more video and audio from our WSL:Gravity issue party, plus other things We Still Like.
Meanwhile, make sure to check out our subscription drive over at IndieGoGo. Shake out those couch cushions, hand us your change and help us make more of what we know you still like!
Now that we're back from the wilderness, expect WSL to take over the Internets any day now. Check us out on the Tweet Machine, MyFace and right here for updates to come.
Editor Chris is the headliner this evening. He just started unbuttoning his collar! #WeStillLike being racy! What kind of party is this?Huh? That last one makes no sense! But we still like it.
September 3 is the debut of Invisible Cities walking art/fiction tour. It's going to be amazing! #WeStillLike everything about that.
What's more popular than the readings? Nothing. But the color coordinated bookshelf comes close. #WeStillLike http://twitpic.com/1zq51v
Josh is reading. His GF suggested he be more dynamic- so he submitted to Gravity. #WeStillLike Josh. We would even if he didn't submit. Heh
Tupelo is up. I'd tweet about what she's reading, but I'm really taken with her coat. #WeStillLike fashion. But only said like David Bowie.
The only answer is the striving for it. #WeStillLike
Sarah is next. She's reading a piece about reading Infinite Jest. #WeStillLike being here forever or however long it took u to read it.
Open mic has commenced. #WeStillLike spontaneous poetry.
"it might not be the apocalypse you thought, but it's the apocalypse you got." word. #WeStillLike real talk.
"the universe is a stage on where you dance, guided by your heart." is this guy for real?#WeStillLike
People popping up in the crowd to yard-read Tavia and Sarah's script. Oh shit! #WeStillLike it when Brad takes a prat fall.
I'm making everyone wait for me to read a tweet or two while I tweet. #WeStillLike being meta-ridiculous. Metadiculous?
The wind is eery. Creepy reading party? Jk jk. #WeStillLike motha nature-made drama.
Art has to be made. Even in yr shit kicker boots. - Monica Regan #WeStillLike
Gravity is weak bc it's leaking into paralell universes. #WeStillLike String Theory. Yeah!
Monica Regan is about to read. #WeStillLike Regans! Even if they are not related!
Oh gosh. We're starting. The last time I stood up in front of this many people, I was talking about e-commerce.
A cardigan will ruin this outfit. #WeStillLike drinking for warmth.
The weather might be a bummer but uh, we're on it. #WeStillLike the donation table. http://twitpic.com/1zp5fb
Poppin bottles. Almost knocked the neighbor's window out with the cork. Oops! Sorry guy. #WeStillLike you.
WeStillLike to party all the time, party all the time, party all the tiiiimmmme. http://twitpic.com/1zp45x
Wearing stilettos to a back yard garden party because #WeStillLike a challenge.
Going to be reading tweets at the @WeStillLike party tonight. I guess I'll finally know what it's like to do bad stand up.
SF! Come to this tomorrow night: http://bit.ly/ca8JKo It's all about Gravity so I'm pretty sure someone will fall down. Probably me.
@wita_fajar #WeStillLike him.. :D RT @aisputri: @wita_fajar RT @utayutay: #didyouknow that @TimMarbun has Justin Bieber's O (cont) http://tl.gd/22fq1j
Many thanks to everyone who joined us for a rad and raucous event. You can keep following us on the Tweet Machine at @WeStillLike.
And special thanks again to @KateRegan for all her journalistic prowess.
WSL: Gravity lands on Thursday, June 24, and the geeks at NASA estimate it will arrive at 4232 Terrace Street, Oakland, at 7 pm. Bring your picnic blankets and those funky cereal box contraptions we used to watch eclipses as kids. Just kidding, don't bring those or everyone will laugh at you. But do bring blankets and beer for a backyard reading beneath the stars. Brilliant!
The Big Dipper's got nothing on our four featured readers, whom we've wrangled from the four corners of the earth (i.e. between the Haight and Oakland) for your entertainment and delight. They include local literary superstars Anhvu Buchanan, Monica Regan, Tavia Stewart-Streit and Andrew R. Touhy.
And there's more! Not only will our readers entertain you, but you're also invited to entertain yourselves by bringing a story, poem, rant, rave, train schedule or training manual to perform for the assembled multitudes. You'll be famous!
A suggested donation of about 10 bucks gets you in the door with a limited edition, hand-numbered copy of WSL: Gravity. Plus we're now offering We Still Like subscriptions to feed your need for local literary tomfoolery in perpetuity (more details to follow). All proceeds fuel the continued existence and expansion of the We Still Like enterprise. Soon you'll be able to see us from space!
But since we can't see you through the Internets (or can we...) please RSVP ASAP. TTYL from WSL.
WSL:Gravity, a reading under the stars
HMS Readership, 4232 Terrace St, Oakland