When The Sun turned twenty this year, I was interviewed by a reporter for a local newspaper. He admitted he didn’t read the magazine, and I could tell that some of my thinking seemed odd and hopelessly idealistic to him. But he admired our achievement in keeping a small journal alive. It’s a miracle, he said. I could agree with that. You’re a visionary, he said. I laughed. I remembered that when the Dalai Lama was asked how the world would be different in fifty years, he replied, “I don’t even know what kind of tea I’ll be having with dinner tonight. How could I possibly know what will happen fifty years from now?”
The reporter asked about the magazine’s finances. We’re supported by our readers, I explained, along with a modest grant from the North Carolina Arts Council. We don’t accept advertising. We don’t have corporate sponsors. Once a year we invite subscribers to pledge additional help. He seemed surprised. “Why would someone give money to a publication?” he asked. I told him that to many readers The Sun isn’t just another publication. The arrival of an issue, they say, is like a visit with a friend. Reading the magazine, they feel respected in a fundamental way.
Still, I told him, I can’t really explain the grace that sustains the magazine: a check arriving at the right time, an issue coming together amidst a whirl of editing and proofreading and worrying. I can’t explain why someone wakes up in the middle of the night and walks outside and stares at the sky. Why she realizes her life is a coat she’s borrowed and needs to return. Why she sits down and begins writing. Why her story makes me gather my own coat around me and say to myself, I want people to read this.
After he left, I thought how ironic it is that the struggle to be more fully human can still strike others as odd. Many distributors shy away from The Sun as too funky, too unpredictable, yet somehow the magazine finds its way into the right hands: readers who don’t want to be sold a political solution or a spiritual solution, who appreciate writing that doesn’t talk down to them or up to them but meets their level gaze.
I’m grateful for our growing readership, and for the fact that we no longer face the same nagging concern each month about whether we can pay the bills. Frugality has been a good teacher, stem but fair, and we continue to economize however we can. But we’d like to pay our writers more; they deserve it. Some of them are trying to make a living from their writing, no easy task.
Then, too, there are only so many manuscripts I can jam into my briefcase at the end of the day. I’d like to hire additional readers to help me sort through the hundreds of submissions that arrive here monthly, many of them from writers who have never been published. For we remain committed to those who haven’t been recognized but in whose work we recognize ourselves.
I never want The Sun to rest on its laurels, or to reduce life to something manageable (and marketable). Simply being different isn’t enough; it turns into a posture. Being honest isn’t enough, either: honesty can be a striptease in which we never get completely naked. I want The Sun to keep growing not j ust in readership but in substance — its voice more resonant, more passionate, more thoughtful.
Your tax,deductible donation as a Friend Of The Sun will help toward that end.