I think my first words were: “Oh, God. Why now?” Then I panicked and nearly yanked out a fistful of hair.
It wasn’t that I had been expecting this—a chance to lead the Relief team into the new decade. And then again, I won’t say I’ve never entertained the fantasy of one day becoming editor of a literary journal, and hopefully one very much like Relief. But the thought of sitting in this chair had never once occurred to me. Yet shocked and thrilled as I was by Kimberly Culbertson’s email offering me the Editor in Chief spot, I was frustrated and depressed to realize there was no way, at the time, that I could say yes. The problem was the timing.
The last half of 2009 was, hands down, the busiest and most exhausting period of my life. . . so far. Holding down a full-time editing job, teaching two sections of freshman composition, handling a couple of freelance editing projects, and keeping up with my duties as Relief’s Fiction Editor meant working about 14 hours a day, every day, seven days a week. Kimberly’s email came right in the midst of all this, so I knew that in order to take her offer, something in my schedule would have to give. After much thought, prayer, and counsel with some very wise people, I decided I would give up one of my comp courses—and the pay that accompanies it—to make room in my schedule for the many added duties the Editor in Chief position entails. In other words, smack in the middle of a recession, with bills to pay and a large family to support, I would give up a paying gig and work twice as hard for free!
Now if that has you questioning the wisdom of those counselors I mentioned, don’t. I am convinced now that they were absolutely right. Working with the Relief team as Fiction Editor has been a joy. In fact, it has been my sanity in a time when I am paid for almost everything I read. I know getting paid to read sounds great, but the downside is when you're getting paid, you have no choice of what you read. The reality is that almost all of my reading these days is academic writing, from beginning student papers to expert-level studies on the racial composition of prisons in Arizona. Believe me, it can be maddening to a "creative" writer. And after six years, it’s certainly no joy.
Though I have not earned a dime here at Relief (none of us have), those twin sisters—joy and sanity—are their own reward, and I am sure that devoting even more time and energy to this journal will be an even greater blessing in the future. I am truly thrilled to be here, and I consider it a high honor to lead this outstanding team of editors, readers, and support staff to provide an outlet for unique voices from across Christendom and the whole faith spectrum.
In the coming months, little will change concerning the vision of Relief. This will remain the same great journal and writing community; the only difference is that—God willing—there will be more of it. Look for new faces and voices on our blog, in addition to the familiar favorites. We’re also considering some exciting new web features, such as audio fiction and poetry. For those of you interested in helping to support the journal, we’ll be having a donation/subscription drive soon (though you certainly don’t have to wait until then to make a donation or order a subscription). And depending on how well that goes and the funds available to us, we plan to do at least one very big (but for now very secret) project this coming summer. Finally, we're already taking submissions for Issue 4.1, and it's looking pretty good so far. Click here to get your submissions in before the period closes on March 1, 2010.
So here's to another great year of Relief. I hope you're all just half as excited as I am.