So if you're a subscriber or a submitter to The Yolo Crow, you probably got a letter this week announcing my intention to shut it down.
I've been running The Crow for nine years now. We published our first edition in the fall of 2005. We've had a good run. While there are things I will miss (mostly the folks; our writers are awesome) and it was hard to make the call, I think it's the right call to make and I feel pretty good about it.
There are lots of reasons. I could talk about the bookstores we've lost and changes in the nature of publishing world. True points. The time and place for a physical serial publications printed on mulched bit of tree is passing. The world has moved on, so to speak.
I could talk about subscription and submittion statistics too, and the degree to which it ties in with the above.
Those are all valid enough reasons, but it was also a personal decision.
What that part of it really comes down to, I think, is this: I'm not standing in the same place I was nine years ago.
That's a good thing.
The world has spun around on its axis some 3000 times. I have a career and a child, some laugh lines and a handful of gray hairs.
I've been feeling for awhile like I have a lot of self-imposed have-tos in my life. And frankly, when I get home at the end of the day, all I really want to do is knit a few rows and play a round of Go Fish with the family. Coming home from eight hours plus at the office and then staying up until midnight to draft out the next Crow layout is becoming a little less appealing.
I started The Crow with a specific vision in mind. I wanted to create a forum for local folk to publish their work, something that would specifically welcome stuff of all genres, and particularly welcome writers that had never been published before. I didn't want to be a Literary Journal. I wanted to put out something that costs less than a latte and showed off what people around town were working on. Casual and friendly.
I think we did that.
But for all the casual, it's still a business. Even a business that doesn't make money has taxes to pay and licenses to renew, orders to fill, and payments to negotiate. It's a lot of work, that part. More than I would have thought for something that runs on such a shoestring budget. And that part? Well, I won't miss it.
In truth, I've been thinking about closing it down, seriously, at least once a year for the last six or seven years. And then I'd get a letter (a nice one, not the other sort; I got those too of course) or do an interview with someone telling me how much our little rag of a journal made a difference to them. About how they were a closet writer for years and never had the courage to send anything off to a publisher, and now that they've been published in The Crow they're sending their stuff off everywhere, even to journals they know are totally out of their league, because why not? I loved that. And it'd keep me going for awhile longer. I called it my tithe to arts community.
Now, nine years out and I'm typing "The End" at the bottom of this particular manuscript. I'm giving myself permission to move on to other things (my own writing perchance?), and I'm giving myself permission to not feel badly about it. Instead, I'm look back over all the old editions we published with all the stories and poems and pieces they hold, and I'm feeling pretty good about what's in there. Just because there a bookend on either side of the volume of work, doesn't lessen the work itself.
So here's to The Crow, and here's to new adventures and whatever tomorrow brings.