My issue of Ruminate arrived in the mail today. I’m happy to see the swooping cursive capital R on the cover. Just inside the front is a painting of a stoic heron gliding over blue water toward a full moon. The presence of a new Ruminate is a signal: it’s time. It’s time to slow down and pay attention, as the note on the opposite page from the heron reminds me. It’s time to chew on questions of life, faith, and art. It’s time to participate in an important and growing conversation about the wonders of our world.
The first Ruminate I ever read was a PDF file I purchased in February 2013 so I could check out the publication. I wanted to find the right place for my more faith-based or spiritual pieces. And I do mean the right place.
I’m not a writer who, like throwing darts, submits work to hundreds of literary journals. I understand this limits my chance of publishing more frequently, but when a piece of mine is accepted, I want to have an understanding of what it means for me to be in that journal.
Do I admire it?
What does it feel like in my hands?
Does it publish writing I want to emulate?
Will my work jibe with its sensibilities?
It’s like developing a relationship—in order to gain this understanding, I have to see the journal on a regular basis. Which means I have to be a subscriber. Literary publications are expensive, but if I believe in a journal, I want to support it. And being a subscriber consistently keeps my goal of being published in the journal in front of me. I get positive reinforcement every time it shows up in my mailbox.
The breathtaking art and powerful writing I consumed in that first PDF inspired me to subscribe to Ruminate. The moment I held it in my hands I knew I wanted to be in the book. The paper was and is substantial, thick, and satisfying. Eventually I had the honor of being named a finalist in Ruminate’s VanderMey Nonfiction Prize and having my essay published (“Why I Must Dance Like Tony Manero,” Issue 33).
What I didn’t expect, though, was how much my Ruminate subscription would engage me not only as a writer but also as a reader.
I wanted the conversation within its pages to find its way into my life. I bought subscriptions and copies for my friends. Last summer I took a stack of Ruminate issues to a friend’s house so we could have tea and talk about why I felt she should submit her art to Ruminate’s Kalos Foundation Visual Art Prize. There’s something exhilarating about the way Ruminate captures the feeling that we are all part of a bigger process. To have more people partake of this feeling, I believe, can only be more of a very good thing.
A journal like Ruminate is rare. Most literary publications of such high quality are subsidized by university presses, but Ruminate has no such cushion.
Ruminate is published independently, a ten-year labor of love produced by a volunteer staff. But it is time for Ruminate to reach a wider audience and to grow to a level where it has a louder voice in the literary world. If it doesn’t grow it will soon go silent. I know the pain of watching a publication disappear both on a large scale (Teen People where I was once an editor) and a small one (The Newtowner, a local journal in my town that lasted only two to three years). In such a landscape the fact that Ruminate has published so well for 10 years is impressive. And all the more reason to help it continue.
Right now Ruminate is in the process of raising enough support to finance this expansion and ensure its ongoing existence. I don’t often participate in fundraising campaigns. I write about this one because I believe the existence of this journal is important for writers and readers alike. There aren’t many journals that offer this kind of special place where we can contemplate the art that awakens us to beauty and the faith that sustains us. Please consider subscribing and donating so this place remains.
Sophfronia Scott is author of the novels All I Need to Get By (St. Martin’s Press) and Unforgivable Love (William Morrow) and the essay collection Love's Long Line (The Ohio State University Press/Mad Creek Books). Sophfronia holds a BA in English from Harvard and an MFA in writing, fiction and creative nonfiction, from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Currently she is working on her next novel as well as a nonfiction book about her virtual mentorship with the monk Thomas Merton. Her website is www.Sophfronia.com.
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