Don Rogers: Lots of love, little backing
Seldom is there a wider gap between community interest and advertiser support as with Current, our fiction and art magazine quite literally by and for the people.
This publication is a mite less exclusive than the last word in fiction, The New Yorker. Or ZYZZYVA, yes, an actual word. The literary and art journal based in San Francisco publishes a scant 1 percent of its submissions. By the way, we have local writers who make that cut.
Odds are better with the fledgling Current, a product of love, no question. But third year in and we’re receiving way more submissions of stories, poems, paintings and photos than we could hope to publish.
A jury, I guess you call it, chooses and takes the task most seriously. A piece I submitted didn’t make the cut in the inaugural edition in 2016. I’ve been licking my wounds since. I mean, Squaw accepted me, Aspen Words accepted me. Both writers conferences reject something like 70-75 percent of their applicants. They’re a big deal.
And my own publication turned me down? That’s how serious, which I couldn’t find more cool.
So the work is pretty good. Granted, fiction and art attract a narrower audience than awful car crashes, murders, any hint of scandal, the merest whisper of Trump, and certainly wildfires — those at least for very good reason. Yes, I’m editorializing.
I’m not saying our journalists don’t do an excellent job with the material. They do. I’m not even saying we shouldn’t know all that, never mind the dopamine and cortisol cycles they trigger. We’ve become Pavlov’s puppets.
I think I am saying that humans are more than all this fear and loathing and “I knew it!”
Church services like Twin Cities’ last Sunday, Pastor Ron delivering lights out with a cup of coffee in hand about acceptance and tapping our aspiration to be better, provide one big clue.
And Current, at least to me, is another channel touching our higher selves.
Fiction, after all, is the lie that tells the larger truth, makes us think, helps us dream, encourages us to become better, more aware and empathetic people in its own way. Current simply serves as a cool means of expression for this.
OK, back to reality, or at least publisher-think: Why the … don’t advertisers see the opportunity here?
People contribute like crazy. They read the crap out of this magazine. It’s good for the soul. Everything absolutely great about our community is represented in its pages.
Feedback is enthusiastic. Here’s a snippet:
“Just got Current and it is spectacular!”
“I’m getting great feedback on the article, but also the whole Current magazine — everyone I’ve spoken to says it’s beautiful and the material is wonderful.”
“I wanted to commend you on putting together a very beautiful, diverse and inspiring magazine.”
“I think you really did our community a great service by canvasing local artists and writers and sharing their works.”
“The Current magazine is a great publication — if it pays for itself. …”
No, I didn’t send that last email. Ah, but there’s the rub, the bottom line, as with everything else. My biggest frustration with such a great venture.
But I’m biased, horribly so. One of the delights I hadn’t counted on when I moved here was the local literary community. The arts generally are great, but it’s the writers who have my heart and soul. And our talent base is so rich, as is our interest in contemporary literature.
So I know my exasperation bubbles over, perhaps unfairly, with the businesses I think should so clearly see their immediate opportunity, never mind supporting the very thing they also stand for.
But I only tap here the existential struggle for artists generally. I’m hardly alone wondering at interest in one hand and this blindness to the value on the other. Certainly it’s subtler and hardly ubiquitous in comparison to, say, Google Maps, that world-changer for everyone.
But damn, I just want to be able to look at Current in the cold-blooded way I must as a responsible newspaper/online publisher and see the numbers support this fragile, beautiful creation.
Even if my own work comes short of the jury’s standards.
If you have a business, or organization, or a even a little extra cash and a message you want to get out, contact Valerie Costa to advertise in Current. She can be reached at email@example.com or 530-477-4237.
Don Rogers is the publisher of The Union, Lake Wildwood Independent and Sierra Sun. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-477-4299.
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