August 7 , 2005

Dear Reader:

We all know writing is probably the loneliest occupation on the Career Councilor's list of low paying jobs. Add to that the natural tendency for most writers to be misanthropic, the oxy moronic and ironic need for acceptance from those same people the writer is glad to see the tail end of, the raging uncertainty and self consciousness roiling within each writer worth his ink and the terrible fear that what he writes is no good, and you have some seriously screwed up people.

There's another piece of this equation that's rarely addressed; writing is hard. It's probably one of the most difficult things to do at all, and to do it well is asking the near impossible. Doing it well and often is a bloody miracle and very few can sustain that miracle. But here we have these shy/outgoing, confident/self abasing, boisterous/introverted, angry/beatifically composed, explosively bi-polar and perfectly balanced characters packaged in single bundles of synapses and nerves, skin and hair, bone and sinew, left and right brain - and all producing the most interesting, enchanting, thrilling, thought provoking, spine tingling, funny, sad, terrifying, sly, insightful, sexy, preposterous, wide ranging and pinpoint perfect prose it is possible to produce.

How can this be?

Precisely because writers are conglomerates, aggregates of everything they ever saw, felt, experienced, heard, read, touched, thought, smelled, tasted makes them storage cells for the magic of relating what has gone before and what is likely to go forward. Into this mix, must go the psychological electricity of lives lived edging around the rim of the world of the mundane. Looking in on what the writer knows is, in the end, a world apart from his or hers is what gives him license to record snippets or whole cloth from that world and shamelessly fashion it into fiction, or more darkly into poetry.

I'm sorry to say, but the truth is an insurance salesman, comfortable in his megabuck world, couldn't write anything beyond a whole life or term policy. A BankyBoy, fixedly on his way up the financial ladder, couldn't write anything more than an inventive check, a Human Resources Manager might be able to write you a nice severance package but don't look for scintillating syntax. What's the correlation here?

I wonder that the creative drive has never been quantified to any satisfaction beyond ethereal PHD oral dissertations - and then left to crumble to the dust they gather on secluded shelves. Qualification is abundant and widely slathered in books throughout the libraries of record since Alexandria. But how hard is that? Even I'm qualifying the creative impulse and who am I?

No, it's up to the writer to explain why he and she needs to write. I know from some experience that maintaining a career in the corporate structure, with all the perceived power and the very real paychecks is so far removed from what I choose that I can never maintain the illusion for more than two years. I suspect that most writers who are driven to write - no, to create written art that will stand beyond the time it takes to read it - have also had difficulty injection molding into worldly expectations. The fit, I'll bet, is always just too tight or not tight enough.

Those of us who actually make a living writing what we choose to write and when we choose to write it are few indeed and should be happy. Here we are making money enough to pay the bills, have a home and support our families, a vacation once in a while, pay for the printer ink, get that new computer, TV, not have to worry - right? So, what is it that keeps us on the edge of contentment?

The drive to write and the fear that we can't, that's what. We are never completely satisfied that what all those adoring readers have told us is really the truth. Hundreds of readers - thousands - can tell us how wonderful our work is and how much it affected them positively and how much they want to read our next story, poem, play, essay. What matters is convincing ourselves our next will be as good as our last and that our last was our best.

I told you we're a screwed up crowd.

Let me introduce you to this issue's crowd of amazingly talented writers. Half of them you know from the past six years of Writer's Cramp, but we are excited (that's what makes this whole thing fresh and magical after all - maintaining the excitement) to introduce three new contributors to our pages.

Returning are Jan Hansen, whose poetry is of that texture that will not suffer categorization or quantification. Jan began submitting nearly four years ago and since his first tentative mailing, I've read and devoured every submission the moment it landed onto the pile and have never hesitated to include his collections within the pages of Writer's Cramp. His prose poetry is stark and beautiful and real and culled from a life long lived in the observance of those things maybe only we can see. Maybe only he can see. In either case his words are straight and striking and slyly accusative.

Michelle Tercha. Michelle is one of our special pleasures and we cultivate our special pleasures. Michelle has become one of our most pleasant surprises over the years. Her poetry is many layered, roiling with pain and anger, tumescent and tumultuous. Her passion is always equaled by her mastery of the words required to paint it, strikingly across our eyes. Michelle is one of Writer's Cramp's true treasures, an adept and a mentor in the making even if she doesn't see it herself.

Ronald Carpenter has surpassed all expectations for even the most accomplished of writers - and in many disciplines. He has experimented, quietly and subtly, in his first forays into the WC experiment, sometimes tentatively thrusting ideas into fruition. From his first story - entirely written for WC - "Staying Awake," Ron has exploded onto the literary scene with prose equal to Twain, Dostoevsky, Doyle and Defoe. But above all and always accompanied with, is his grasp of what he is as a coming figure of literary importance. Whether he admits it to himself or not (remember those conflicting factors that make a writer?) he is destined to become a beacon. Inhale, exhale - accept it. We love you.

Now, here is the part that I live for in every incarnation of our magazine - the part where I discover (what a high handed conceit) new writers.

Here are three writers, new to our pages, who have put up with all that Byronic writer's twaddle.

Bryan Reilly brings us a scintillating tale of informal formality - a piece from Hitchcock and Kemper, from Henry Lucas and Hannibal Lecter, a dinner date from one particularly passionate hell. Read, "Serial for Dinner," and seek your own deserts.

Ole Nielsen brings us back to the days of wonder and amazement with his tale of a man in the right place at the right time to witness a miracle. "The Old Rusty Arms," smacks of the tales of yore and the legends of lasting importance. A human face is always a remembered face.

Jalana Roganovic is a young woman who came to North America - Canada specifically - from Serbia Montenegro just as the war erupted into the bloodbath it was to become. Jalana came to my attention through shared professional pursuits and I am sure that Writer's Cramp will always be the richer for that happy serendipity.

And now you can send emails right from selected author pages. Click the animated email gif.

The best-laid schemes o' mice an 'men" , as the man once wrote, "Gang aft agley." Our tribute to Edgar Allan Poe will be featured in the Hallowe'en Issue, not this time around. That's when we take things seriously, any way...

"True nervous, very very dreadfully nervous I had been and am. But why will you say that I am mad?"

I watched him, the two detectives beside me, sitting on his tufted chair, gazing at the bust of Pallis just above the chamber door, plucking at his black sleeves, fidgeting his elbows, winglike, raising his eyebrows in mock surprise while dropping his eyes to the rug beneath his chair. He was hiding something, I was sure.

True, nervous, and crazy as a bedbug.

Coming soon . . .

But for now, enjoy the bounty.