The reader, an editor once told me, cares about the story, not how hard it was to write.
That’s an exaggeration, but a useful rule. So, since nobody’s ever asked, I’ve refrained from unfurling that great tattered banner, “How We Publish a Magazine,” with no paid staff, never enough time, and no foundation largesse or mothering institutional teat to get us through the night.
Still, last month there was a new twist, as this labor of the heart was interrupted by another, more urgent and awesome, and the birth, fifteen hours after Priscilla’s first contractions, of a little girl, Mara, plumper than the daughter of a struggling editor has the right to be, but small enough to be cradled in one arm while the fingers of the other peck at these keys. She arrived between the editing and the layout — or, more precisely, at the foot of our bed; every rheumatic cliche about the miracle of birth sprang effortlessly from the heart. Burn the libraries. She’s breathing.
All by way of explanation as to why this issue is late. It was as difficult as she to push into this world, for whatever fearsome labor The New Age suggests remains, for us, an unanswered question. It is no false labor, that much is sure. But whether the world will be reborn with a cry of pain, or joy, we must wait, and see. In the meantime it simply keeps on breathing, which is enough. Life — as the man said — it’s a gas.