I spent a good two hours writing the below as the intro for this issue, but honestly, it was more therapy for myself. I guess before, I always felt the need to explain myself, but that seems to come with the territory of feeling like a fuck up. And now that I don't, I'm not too keen on sending this intro out beyond the thoughtful web. I still want to share it though, mostly because, fuck if I know, I treat this website like a public diary.
That's a weird thing to realize. I've always treated reddit and okcupid penpals and facebook messages as public diaries. Maybe this should be a goal for 2017 - learn to be content with a private diary.
It's difficult to talk about rough times while you're still experiencing them, because the story is still changing.
I finally got myself a dedicated full-time position job, not just a freelance gig. Admittedly, Lit.cat played a huge role in helping me land the role, the interviewer was so impressed that I bombed the first interview, got suggested for a second position, bombed the second position, and locked down the third position. And now the story of Lit.cat will stay relatively put because I'm no longer living a life of wild flux. I can finally tell a story about Lit.cat that will stay put.
Here is the first thing that no one else knows about Lit.cat: I bought the Lit.cat domain back in December of 2015, when the startup that I worked for was in shambles and I spent all of my day endlessly browsing the internet. I was in a new city where the only people I knew were my coworkers, living and working out of a rat infested loft without running water and alternating between pizza bagels and pizza hot pockets for food.
More than anything, I was burnt out and depressed. And I imagined Lit.cat as a literary journal that I would use to meet people in Pittsburgh. I stubbornly stayed there for another three months out of desperation before fleeing back to Anchorage. I never got farther than the first mock-up of the website.
The thing about desperation is that every good idea that comes your way feels like a spark that could possibly set your life aflame. Every light becomes something you will enthusiastically attempt to kindle, one right after the other. Each ill-fated, obsessive endeavor will illuminate the existential gulf between your internal emptiness and the life you've put on delay.
Every spark is a little source of warmth.
Lit.cat, more than anything else, is a series of sparks of desperation. I'm embarrassed to look back on the long, 'your writing was important to my life' emails I've sent to authors to ask if I could put their writing in Lit.cat. I'm embarrassed at all of the rambling I've done with people about the website, about how its the only real project I've worked on during a year of deep depression. I'm embarrassed about all of the times I've said 'thank you for supporting me and my dumb little project', because each time comes with the feeling in my head that yes, Lit.cat has finally solved all of the problems with my life.
There was a period from November to December where Lit.cat had a random issue generator in it, set to randomize every 24 hours. Every piece of writing had a quiz question, a describing object for the beginning, and a special reference at the very end. For instance, Gifts was a story where five adults chose to sacrifice themselves for a child. I had it set at the end of the issue so that Arjun Basu would be described as someone who would've volunteered a child, personally.
Here is the second thing that no one else knows about Lit.cat: I didn't really see myself getting past this wintertime, and thought that it would be nice to have something that spoke on my behalf while I was gone. That random issue generator was going to be my legacy. I eventually deleted it because it was beginning to terrify me. Like most of my thoughts at the time, the generator was out of desperation, but unlike most of my thoughts at the time, I had spent a full week acting on it.
Every spark is a little source of warmth. It's difficult to talk about rough times while you're still experiencing them, because the story is still changing.
When there is light in your life again, you'll finally realize that your mind is more playful than you realize, that it wants to pin down moments of reality and have it stay put. And you'll realize that maybe, just maybe, your thoughts don't matter all that much. That things will just work out in the end and you won't have one clean story about it, just an assortment of things that you think were catalysts to things turning out alright.
I'm glad to say that the Lit.cat will no longer be kindled with sparks of desperation. I will keep it kindled with love and care- at least, when I find the free time in my busy schedule.
The first piece of writing for this issue is a transcription of a video that motivated me to redo my resume, which motivated me to send it out to a couple places. I hope that someday I publish something for you that touches you half as much as it did.