Sterling, Start Writing’s literary journal, launched in 2011. Over five issues, it showcased more than 100 original poems, stories, short plays and comics. Many contributors already had publishing credits under their belts. Others were seeing their work in print for the first time. It was a particular mission of the journal to feature these works side by side.
Beyond this submitted content and interviews, Sterling had another, more unique component: a stream of prose and poetry created expressly for the journal through a writing workshop. These contributors bypassed the submissions process and helped shape each issue behind the scenes. Workshop fees greatly offset the cost of producing physical copies, which made the whole enterprise possible.
We picked up some notices along the way, particuarly for how great each issue looked, and for our commitment to pay something for all submissions. The challenge was always how to integrate what I called the journal’s “hybrid” nature: a section of content created expressly for the journal alongside pieces chosen through a submission process. It worked for me, from the perspective of an editor and publisher. I was never quite sure how it worked from the perspective of readers, who didn’t share my experience of watching those pieces come to life.
I had some ideas about how to approach Sterling #6 a little differently. But I kept going around in circles, delaying pre-production work for months. I finally understood I didn’t want to repeat the format of past issues, but didn’t know how to move forward. Once you realize your feelings have changed, the only civil thing to do is shake hands and say goodbye. And so, although it may return in another format, Sterling‘s headed to the cryo chamber for a while. Let’s throw some thanks around and take in the cover art one more time.
The Review Review, who gave our last two issues thoughtful, comprehensive write ups. If you’re in the market for some inspiring journals to wrap your hands around, spend some time poking around their site. You won’t be disappointed.
NewPages gave us some online coverage and our very first review. I probably read that every day for a month, pretending each visit was my first. The site remains a crucial resource for those looking to acquire or submit content.
Ben McNally Books, universally praised as one of the world’s most beautiful independent bookstores, hosted our last two launches. And let us drink considerably. They were magic evenings, both.
Dan Ibarra of Aesthetic Apparatus and Schoolhaus was the feature interview in our last issue. There’s a .pdf of our chat here. This interview is one of the pieces I’m most proud of. AA’s “Bear and Penguin” poster for The Hold Steady will always have a place in my should-be-writing room.
Our cover artists! If you commission them for a project I get a 7% finder’s fee:
#1: Liam Nickerson
#2: Richard Purcell
#3: Martin Bregman
#4: RUNT: Runt doesn’t have a website that I’m aware of. The link is to an article about RUNT, a documentary about the artist and his murals, made by Augusto Monk.
#5: Bill Ferenc: I never met Bill. In fact, I realize now we’ve never even spoken. I wanted a local artist for this so-called Minneapolis issue and fell for Bill’s work as soon as I saw his portfolio. I think he’s mad at me right now because I tried to connect him with a gig that fell through, but artists are temperamental that way.
To all the writers and readers around the world who took a chance by submitting content to or purchasing a copy of this experiment–thank you all for your generosity.
This post ends where the journal began: with its namesake, Sterling Grade. Way back in my very first creative writing workshop, Sterling was defiant that everyone had stories and he wanted to hear all of them. Thanks, buddy. I’m still right there with you.