Editor's Letter: A New World

Dear Reader,

This issue is the anniversary issue of Woken. That’s right- we’ve been up for a year now, and I can hardly believe how far the magazine has come. The team has grown and submissions have been rolling in. I love it, and feel so inspired. Thank you- two words I cannot say enough.

The theme now is “A New World” for a reason: not only has school started, but Summer ‘16 was a big time for many of us. People went off to college, inevitably to do great things. Revolutions sparked. It was a three-month long opportunity for deep, free thought and CHANGE. During that time I spent a month writing at CSSSA, an art program in Valencia, California. My inner writer had gone into chronic hibernation, and I didn’t even know it until I drove into the parking lot and met hordes of talented writers, all of them wise beyond their years and therefore not naive enough to give a flying fuck. Once I’d spent all four of my weeks there writing, everyday, all the time, I was hardly prepared to return home, a world that began to feel foreign to me only because I’d been surrounded by the addicting taste of independence and art and a romantic city. CSSSA felt more “home” to me than San Francisco did, but San Francisco was where I would put what I'd learned to good use. Where I would see my history through a new lens, for I had finally realized that: 

“I love writing now. I'm so happy to say it. I’ve gotten over my fear of being not good enough, and I’ve gotten over my fear of the work itself.

Wow. It feels so damn good to say that.

I am no longer afraid of my work.

I think maybe it was that precise reason why I stopped writing for myself. I let my blank pages have power over me. I let other people’s eyes hold me over a fire, when in reality: I create the words that give them anything in the first place. And to say all of this at once feels so inspiring. I want to write as much as I can now, and I want to refine and improve and refine and rework my craft, and thoughts of Sophie’s writing about the moonlight or Aaron’s writing about decrepit houses do not make me scared of the 'competition,' if there is any in the first place. They make me hopeful.”

For the remaining weeks of summer all I did was scribble in this journal that I bought in a CalArts gift shop, when finally, at one point, I decided to email one of my trusted friends on a total whim. I suppose I wanted someone to hear my thoughts, unlike the passive way paper stares back at me no matter what words I scrawl upon it. And while I don’t remember writing the letter at all, I still smile at its truth:

“I'm happy. It is humbling to see how many talents there are in this world, and freeing to not be afraid of them. I realized a couple days ago that I am no longer afraid of my work, that I am no longer afraid of the competition as a direct result of my fear for LOSING--because losing? Losing is freaking GRRREAT.”

To which he said:

“I think you are right about losing. Mostly. In reality, there is no victory and no loss at all--save that for ego. People are moved by your work or not, I think. But there are so many people, so many editors, so many arbitrary contests and readings and events that someone will always be moved by something of yours, even if it doesn't move you. That is the danger for any artist who's worth a damn in their craft. All that's left for you now is to produce as much material as you can write honestly between this day and the day you die, and throw most of it away for not moving you. Isn't that exciting?”

Isn’t it?