Hey, here’s a challenge. Despite all the annotations, the papers, the creative writing, the mashed DELETE buttons, the multiple drafts, the day job, the night job, the home life, the commute, the political landscape, the societal problems you face, the struggles you’ve dealt with personally for years, the mountain that you personally climb — submit work to the Pitkin Review in the hopes you get published. Hell, submit it to any periodical with those same hopes.
It ain’t easy, my friend. I speak from experience. In the months leading up to even writing this note, I’ve been rejected five or six times for my own work. I feel it’s good, but could be better. The “getting better” part is really the point; the fact that I can acknowledge that means that I’ve grown as a writer. And the fact that I’m working at it means that eventually, good things will come my way with time.
We initially had a theme for this issue, following the themed issue from Fall 2017. It was to be “Karma and Accountability,” and given the political (if not emotional) state of the U.S. in 2017, we felt it was quite applicable. However, a lot of what we received — and what ultimately made it into this issue — didn’t fall into that theme. Which is fine, of course, because the theme wasn’t what we were weighing choices upon.
But the concept sticks with me. Karma. Accountability.
I admit, I’m more of a believe in karma when the guy who flies past me on the expressway, weaving between lanes, ends up pulled over by a state trooper. Driving past him with a big grin that I hope he sees — to me, there’s karma.
At the same time, I interpret karma as simply giving back, working hard, exuding positivity. That’s not magical, that’s tangible. You work hard, you’ll have something to show for your efforts — usually what you were hoping for. You’re considerate and kind to people, they’ll reflect that back to you, and potentially others. You take other people’s needs into consideration, they’ll hopefully pass that generosity on to the next person in need.
Accountability. If you’ve got something to say, own it. If you stand behind the power of your convictions, don’t waver. At the same time, take responsibility if what you’re doing is wrong. Accountability builds and demonstrates character.
Mark Twain is attributed to the quote, “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.” The same holds true for standing up for what you believe in. Filter through whatever fog is blocking what you truly believe in, and own it. It will be way easier to stand up for those beliefs. If you realize you’ve been doing something wrong, once you realize the proper path, get on it. Walk it, own it, believe in it, and you won’t have to consciously make the decisions to back it — you’ll just do it. The accountability will come naturally.
So as you’re working towards becoming a better writer, as you’re getting rejected (or accepted!), and the weight of every other possible stressor is looming down upon you, my only advice would be to keep working towards your goals. Walk that path, make right decisions, stick to your beliefs, be accountable.
The karmic celebration will be worth it at the end.
I want to take up a little more space to say thank you to all the students, alumni and faculty who helped make the Pitkin Review a fantastic issue. Not just by your writing contributions, but by your effort, your sense of teamwork, and your repeated offers to assist above and beyond what you were already doing. May you all have continued success in meeting your goals.
Ryan W Shepard | Editor-in-Chief