Editors’ Note for Issue 1

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The following is the full Editors’ Note for Issue 1:

“Life as a human is hard. Plain and simple.

Life on this spinning rock is sometimes nasty, often brutish and always short. As digital technology continues to become more pervasive, ever increasing our connectedness to the other people scattered all over our floating space stone, it seems as though the Hobbesian state of nature counterintuitively becomes more present. We have constant and instant access to all of our species’ triumphs and tragedies, past and present, sitting side by side in our taskbar or in our App Store. Brunelleschi and beheadings in 1080p.

We live at a time of human hyper-cognizance, unprecedentedly exposed to the nastiness and brutality that exists in our midst and increasingly aware of the shortness of the time we have to counteract those forces. We are now confronted with everything all at once, all the time; consequently, we can feel powerless to affect anything. The empathetic twenty-first century human struggles with the knowledge that there is so much collective pain in the world and that there is relatively little they can individually do about it, especially as they deal with those growing feelings of alienation and lonesomeness that come from this realization. That sense of simultaneous responsibility and impotence can crush the spirit and/or strangle the soul.

It is out of an unconscious duty to this feeling of responsibility and to combat this feeling of impotence that Sobotka Literary Magazine was born. We believe literature provides an outlet for the alleviation and externalization of some of that intangible psychic pain that seems elemental to our experience, both for the author and the audience. A story can make us forget our personal pressures and a poem can give voice to an emotion we never noticed existed inside of us. Most importantly, literature provides us a unique insight into the experience of one of the other human beings that we share this tiny corner of the universe with and, in the best pieces, helps us learn a little about our own experience as well. David Foster Wallace expressed our sentiment well when he said of fiction, “There’s a kind of Ah-ha! Somebody at least for a moment feels about something or sees something the way that I do. It doesn’t happen all the time. It’s these brief flashes or flames, but I get that sometimes. I feel unalone — intellectually, emotionally, spiritually. I feel human and unalone and that I’m in a deep, significant conversation with another consciousness in fiction and poetry in a way that I don’t with other art.” With this first issue, we hope we can foster a conversation that helps writers and readers, not to mention ourselves, feel more human and less alone. To us, literature is the only medium that allows us to transfigure the nasty, brutish and short into something satisfying, beautiful and transcendent despite its transience.

We chose the following works not only for their inherent strength as individual pieces, but for their collective ability to give life and light to the bloody, beautiful nature of our existence here on this crowded sphere that we share. Every one of these stories and poems, while varied in structure and style, strengthened our belief in the illuminative elements of literature in a world that can too often seem dark and daunting.

We sincerely thank you for picking up this little booklet of printed words when you could be spending your time with any one of the billions of stimuli available to you at this very moment. We greatly appreciate the opportunity to have this conversation with you and look forward to speaking to you again sometime soon.

Above all else, we hope this makes you feel human and unalone.

Kathy Klimentowski/Nick Rossi
Urbana/Nashville, 2014”

Sincere thanks to everybody who has been involved in helping us take this magazine from an idea born on a bus stop bench to being the box of books that is going to show up on Monday. Thank you.

editorsnote
Photo Credit: Sarah Genis

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Salvage Something Short

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Journalist and short story author Wells Tower said of writing fiction:

“I think what people really want is fiction that in some tiny way makes their life more meaningful and makes the world seem like a richer place. The world is awfully short on joy and richness, and I think to some extent it’s the fiction writer’s job to salvage some of that and to give it to us in ways that we can believe in.”

Knee-deep in the drudgery of everyday life, sometimes it’s hard to see the simple joys that come with being alive and human. Fiction has the power to highlight some of the richness of the collective human experience and present it in a way that makes the reader acknowledge that richness, or at least potential of such, in their own life.

We are still looking for pieces of short fiction that give us something to believe in, short fiction that shows us there is some other human out there burning with the same desire to find, or create, some kind of meaning during our short time on this Great Big Spinning Multicolored Rock.

Salvage something in your short story and send it to us at sobotkalitmag@gmail.com.

– NR

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Bibliophile

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In his poem “the burning of the dream,” Charles Bukowski recalls his love of reading and his strong association with the library:

“meanwhile
while other young men chased the
ladies
I chased the old
books.
I was a bibliophile, albeit a
disenchanted
one
and this
and the world
shaped me.”

At Sobotka, we hope to bring this type of connection towards books out in people. Though, ideally, we hope your readers/writers not be as disenchanted as Bukowski was, if that’s the approach you take, we’re not gonna knock you down for it. Just try to make what you and others read more fulfilling by submitting something that you feel is worth it!

Send it out to us while you still got the time! Submissions close on June 23rd!

– KK

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Long Burning Logs

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Since we are asking people to share a bit of themselves with us through their work, we figured it was only fair to share a bit of ourselves. These are some stories that make us here at Sobotka burn, both as writers and readers.

Kathy:

“Teddy” by JD Salinger
“The Penal Colony” by Franz Kafka
“Man From the South” by Roald Dahl
“Puppy” by George Saunders
“How to Become a Writer Or, Have You Earned This Cliche” by Lorrie Moore

Nick:

“EPICAC” by Kurt Vonnegut
“Octet” by David Foster Wallace
“Indian Camp” by Ernest Hemingway
“The Overcoat” by Nikolai Gogol
“The Beggar and the Diamond” by Stephen King

Some stories burn bright, but their afterimage fades quickly. These stories have continued to glow in the backs of our heads long after the first read.

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Burning Feelings

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In “A Poet’s Advice,” E.E. Cummings wrote:

“A poet is somebody who feels, and who expresses his feeling through words.

This may sound easy. It isn’t.

A lot of people think or believe or know they feel – but that’s thinking or believing or knowing; not feeling. And poetry is feeling – not knowing or believing or thinking.

Almost anybody can learn to think or believe or know, but not a single human being can be taught to feel. Why? Because whenever you think or you believe or you know, you’re a lot of other people: but the moment you feel, you’re nobody-but-yourself.

To be nobody-but-yourself – in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else – means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting…

And so my advice to all young people who wish to become poets is: do something easy, like learning how to blow up the world – unless you’re not only willing, but glad, to feel and work and fight till you die.”

Feeling can’t be taught or learned. Feeling is part of what makes every individual just that. Actions, thoughts and beliefs can be dissected as desired, but feelings, while they can sometimes be controlled, can seldom be changed.

Poetry gives us as human beings a glimpse at the tides and ebbs and floods and fires inside another animal so alike to us yet so unique, possibly making us a bit more aware of those movements within ourselves.

Show us who you are as nobody-but-yourself and send us your submission at sobotkalitmag@gmail.com.

-NR

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Kiss in the Dark

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Stephen King wrote in the introduction to his short fiction collection Skeleton Crew:

“Reading a good long novel is in many ways like having a long and satisfying affair…a short story is a different thing altogether–a short story is like a quick kiss in the dark from a stranger.”

A great short story is a snapshot, vivid and engaging, which can often have more of an impact than access to the whole album.

At Sobotka, we believe that the shortest embrace can provide the most enduring warmth.

Don’t be shy. Give us a kiss at sobotkalitmag@gmail.com.

– NR

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Smother Your Self-Doubt

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Sylvia Plath on writing:

“And by the way, everything in life is writable if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”

It’s sometimes hard to admit that you might actually have an original idea worth the time and energy necessary to fully flesh that idea out, especially in this era of penny expression through social media. Stop doubting yourself. Start writing. If you’ve only got one good sentence on a whole page, that’s one more quality sentence than you had before.

String together some solid sentences and send us the result at: sobotkalitmag@gmail.com

– NR

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