Letter From the Editor

In September of 1999, I was living in my boyfriend's dorm room trying to conjure up an idea to make money on the Internet. I had the not-so-brilliant scheme of creating a page dedicated to the author, Lorrie Moore, with whom I was infatuated at the time. (Okay, I'm still a bit infatuated with her. Lorrie, if you're reading, drop me a line sometime. ;) ) However, after finding little information to glean from competing sites and realizing that making a website such as this profitable was a pipedream, I decided what the Internet really needed was a web-based literary magazine.

At that time, I thought this was a brilliant, unheard-of idea. Not until after I had started calling for submissions and sending out inquiries to friends and acquaintances, did I realize that there were already thousands of other crappy Internet journals, and I was simply going to unleash another onto an unsuspecting population. But of course by that point in time I had gone to the trouble of spamming message boards and acquiring some free hosting space, that and I was living with another human being in a room no bigger than my closet, with nothing better to do than watch winter descend on Rhode Island. So, I stuck it out. I put out an issue that I would still be fairly proud to print today -- publishing the lovely Marek Lugowski and the wonderfully talented and Pulitzer Prize nominated Sue Scalf.

My editing staff at the point in time consisted of a ragtag bunch of chronies that I had acquired throughout my years of Internet junkie-dom. John Turner, a friend from the good ole days when I was still writing "the gleaming rose-colored angel of my soul" poems, was my second in command. (He was actually one of the ones to point me in the right direction as a writer.) He'd done the journal thing before and really added a touch of class to my clueless construction. Amazingly enough, he's stuck it out through my moody months, my computer collapses, my silly editorial whims; so this anniversary is his party as much as it is anyone's.

Rita Meade was our other associate editor. She was a friend who I had conned into playing me in my play when I was at Mary Washington College when my lead dropped out. I figured, "Hell, she's literally been in my shoes, why the heck not?" Unfortunately for us, she's moved on to bigger and better things, but we'd take her back in a heartbeat. (Hear that, Rita? A heartbeat! Hurry it up!)

We've gone through a host of other editors who have stuck it out as long as I could pry the best hours of the days from of them like a tricky tooth. But we all know how well the Internet pays, and god bless the person who thinks this whole publication thing is fun. :)

Needless to say, I lost money on the endeavor. After my little spamming incident (I didn't realize it was spam. Really!), my server was frowning upon me. So along with nicoLe sativa kurlish, Sharon Shahan, who was an editor for Stirring at the time, and John Turner, Sundress Publications was formed. I purchased the domain name and the web space with the scrap money I had made from the Amazon affiliates program and random ad space, and thus a legend (in its own mind) was born.

Back then we had grand plans for Sundress. THIS was going to be the way we made money! We'd sell poetry T-shirts, greeting cards with REAL poetry, haiku bumper stickers. We'd publish two books a year. We'd be known as THE source for poetry on the web.

Well, two and a half years later, we are publishing our first book (Buy it! It rocks!), and we do have a handful of T-shirts and random merchandise, because there is some profitability in our name. And we have put together some damn fine publications. But let's be honest. See that little button at the bottom of the page? The one that says Donate that no one ever actually clicks on? (Yeah, it's been there for about six months now!) That's our way of panhandling. Yup. All of this, and we are still sitting on the side of the super highway with our cardboard sign that reads "Will Publish for Food."

Not to say it hasn't been a fruitful endeavor. Stirring has been, and continues to be, one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I'm constantly amazed by the poets we get submissions from, especially the ones whose writing is light years beyond my own, despite the fact that they are getting younger and younger than me -- they make me feel like Methuselah at twenty-one. But let's be honest, we all know the Internet doesn't pay with cash, check, or credit card.

But heck, I eventually moved out of my boyfriend's dorm room . . . after a year of freeloading. I got a real job to help subsidize what was originally going to be my endless money tree. When I went back to school, I made my boyfriend get a job to pay to keep this electronic roof over our heads.

It's been amazing. Everything. Hell, three years is a long time in dog years, and Internet years too, for that matter. And reading the comments my current and former editors sent concerning Stirring, I'm starting to think we're not just any old crappy Internet-based magazine -- we're THE crappy Internet-based magazine. And don't you forget it!

--Erin Elizabeth

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