What can we expect […?] Everything, but we won’t get it.
— Frank O’Hara, “Personism: A Manifesto”
We almost always leave this letter for last. At this writing (now then, of course, but in that old now), the issue is almost complete, so tantalizingly close to finished that its future already stretches before it. Still, it does not yet exist. We could stop right now and it wouldn’t be — this is the incomprehensible power of Almost. All our contributors’ ceaseless toiling and all our ceaseless-except-for-copious-coffee-breaks efforts would be for nothing. The issue would stay locked away, awaiting its finish forever. Yet here you are, dear reader, (in the new now) reading this — so it seems Almost must have stretched itself further towards its shining future and made contact.
So begins the introduction to issue #3 of We Still Like, which confirms everything I recently said about this incredible small batch journal: the design is impeccable – they bound the things themselves with literal brass tacks, people – and the content is smart, funny, diverse, and incredibly inviting. I almost stole one, and I’m no thief! The issue includes a compendium of statistics related to the issue: how many submissions came from other countries (for instance!), and other clever data that I really geek out on; I think it’s good to know what goes into the making of a book, and what doesn’t make it. Each piece has a footer that ties it to the following piece… it’s very readable, yet still somewhat labyrinthian, in that you feel like it’s self-conscious enough to be interactive yet not stuck up if you don’t follow it’s suggestions. After all, it’s only ALMOST conscious.
Read the rest of the intro below, followed by some readings at the recent release party. I think you’ll see why I consider this an organic journal; it’s very much in progress, and talking to you about that progress as it grows. I think you’ll find an honest account of what it means to create a journal—to put anything into the world, for that matter—no small feat for an intro. I honestly can’t say enough good things about We Still Like.
We’re as surprised as you are. You’d think each issue would get easier; you’d think we’d be seasoned pros by now. But the obstacles seemed taller and broader this time. Our momentum flagged as the novelty wore off and the debt set in. Part of this was good, the effects of We Still Like growing into a “real” magazine. But suddenly: Pressure. Expectation. Budgets and errands and business cards and business all reared their ugly heads. It freaked us out. We were having commitment issues. We were taking ourselves too seriously. We were becoming exactly what we created this publication to oppose.
And seriously: Who ever thought we’d get this far? When every obstacle felt more Sisyphean than the last, it seemed merely realistic to expect this was the boulder that wouldn’t make it. We joked the magazine was not bi-annual but TRY-annual, as in, we’re lucky if it gets made at all. This way, we could keep plugging away, that boulder made a little lighter with a hundred what-ifs. On our mission to make the best magazine that would never be, we could allow ourselves to embrace the imperfections and hesitations necessary to pay homage to the incomplete.
While we were imagining the issue we would have made if we had made an issue, an issue appeared. The magazine finished itself. You’ll see as you read, all those Almosts have been turned in the sharp lathe of time and come out whole — less but more. The Almost-ness of our selections completes them.
We must keep re-learning this lesson: If we aren’t careful, we’ll get too careful. We’ll become too exacting, demanding, unthankful. The hard work of Almost returns us to humble roots, to watering seeds and finding what magic grows from dirt. All that planning and fixating and taking ourselves seriously had been nothing but avoidance, a morbid wish to leap past the limbo of living, as if we knew what lay beyond. All we really know is we can’t afford to skip it. Such shortcuts miss everything:
Almost shivers. It is the space covered by objects shifting in a quake. It is the offset of your two eyes, the difference that creates depth. It is the how-close and the only-so-close we can get to one another — what is near and missed.
Almost is the most tantalizing part, a sliver of skin scalloped between lace, almost impossible. Almost is Mad Libs and Zeno’s paradox: the gap yet to be crossed, forever shrinking, never closing. Almost is the every-other-place you could focus your effort and attention, the other lives you’d live if you lived differently. Almost is the raw material that makes up every choice.
This time, once again, we choose We Still Like, and we’re oh-so-incredibly glad you have, too. Please enjoy this Almost issue, this Issue We Would Have Made If We Had Made the Issue issue, this Double Issue — full of both what it is and what it isn’t. Turn the page. You’re almost there.
Most of all,
The theme for issue #4 is Alchemy. Submit – and find out more – here.