Losing them, fixing them, forgetting to put them in
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Six years ago, when I started THE SUN, I knew every subscriber and every contributor. It was personal journalism in the most literal sense — emerging from a family of free-thinkers sharing with each other their most personal visions. Sometimes the words were raw and unpolished, sometimes they gleamed. The openness and unpredictability of the conversation — like talk among friends around the kitchen table at night — made it unique.
For 58 issues, we’ve been at it. The family has grown, but the intimacy prevails. Not everyone is known by name, but everyone has a place at the table. Sometimes you’re put to sleep, sometimes you’re angered, sometimes the truth in someone’s words parts the night.
Sometimes the talk turns to money — not without embarrassment, since I’d prefer to keep the unpaid bills out of sight, and let the ideas flow, and make sure the glasses are full. But I’ve got to lay everything on the table, because I can’t take THE SUN’s existence for granted, and neither can you.
We don’t make enough money to pay our bills. And there’s no way to trim expenses further. We use the least expensive printer in the state. Nobody who writes for the magazine gets paid, nor do most of those who work here. My salary is $100 a week. A rare combination of ingenuity and grace sustains us, but there’s a limit to how many unpaid bills we can juggle.
The Ram Dass benefit last May was an enormous help, but all that money went to pay off old debts, accumulated when we were putting out larger, more expensive issues in an effort to attract new readers. There are yet more bills dating back two or three years. Our creditors have been remarkably patient, but they won’t wait forever.
We get no outside funding; we’re too unorthodox — a mixed blessing — to fit any of the grant categories. Our income derives from advertising, newsstand sales, and subscriptions. We’re already doing everything we can, without being manipulative or downright dishonest, to earn more.
What can you do? If everyone who read the magazine subscribed, and if everyone who already subscribes gave a gift subscription, our long-term survival would be assured.
I’m asking you to send us $12 for a subscription, or a gift subscription, at a time when nearly everyone is complaining about inflation. You know your pocketbook — how much you spend on necessities, and extras. And you know whether THE SUN is an extra for your inner life, or a necessity.
It contradicts the spirit of our dialogue for me to sweet-talk you. Either we keep talking, late into the night — planting our elbows and our dreams on the table — or we don’t. Either the pleasure you get when the magazine arrives makes you want to help, or it doesn’t.
— Sy Safransky