When I first started writing, I wrote out of sheer desire.
I had all kinds of reasons for why the writing was the part that mattered— that I needed to keep the process pure, that I didn’t want to seem like a striver, that art had nothing to do with commerce, or ambition. I was very young. And anyway, it seemed like I had all the time in the world, and the world would never change.
I have lots more to say about publishing, access, equity, networks and networking, support, remuneration–in short, I have lots more to say about how broader systems and structures make the already precarious and difficult lives of artists, writers, and other creatives even more precarious and difficult, and those qualities of precarity and difficulty are compounded by other factors (e.g. race, class, gender, etc.). But these are topics for a separate essay.
During the pandemic year of 2020, after several long discussions (over gchat, of course), we decided that we were tired of waiting for other people to open doors for us, and no one was really going to waltz up and offer us rooms of our own. What if we were to build our own doors, and walk through them?
We began by dipping our toes into independent publishing, and setting up Ars Longa.
It ended up being a lot more work than I ever imagined, but also rewarding in surprising ways. We did it all ourselves, with no institutional backing whatsoever, and no outside help (I revived my rusty web design skills for this project, and am thankful that WordPress templates exist and I no longer have to handcode html). Since 2021 turned out to also be a kind of pandemic year, we had limited opportunities to promote Ars, and mostly relied on existing networks for publicity.
Still, we made it through our first year. I put the finishing touches on the first issue of our Journal on New Year’s Eve. The first issue of Ars Longa Journal revolved around the theme of “Plagues, Politics, and Portents.” We wondered, when we set it, if our theme would feel old and tired by the time the issue “went to press.” Instead, we find that we are in the midst of yet another pandemic winter, so our theme remains (sadly) relevant.
And here we are – looking forward to a second year with Ars. We hope this will be a year of growth for all of us.
P.S. If you are interested in writing for Ars, either for the blog or for a forthcoming issue of the Journal, please contact us!
P.P.S. For 2022, I am trying to post here more frequently. I will continue to share long-form pieces, but I am also thinking of writing shorter, rawer posts–a mixture of posts like this one, and perhaps some that share snippets of ongoing art and writing projects. What do you think of this plan?