Saturday, January 10, 2009
An Arrrrrgh Moment
Like many other writers I know, I tend to be a pack rat when it comes to books and magazines. Books are easy. Once they are on the shelf, I can scan the spines and fairly easily recall the story, the premise, or the more difficult to name cohesion of a poetry collection.
However, I have a problem with literary journals and trade magazines. In order to keep current with the writing world, I subscribe to several of these, including Poets & Writers, American Poetry Review, and The Writer's Chronicle (as a member of AWP). Since I find value in what I read within these volumes, I keep them. I line them up on the shelf or in the storage bin under the futon in my office. From time to time, as I shelve a new issue, I wonder why I keep them. I've never gone back and leafed through issues I've already read, as I do with books.
Then, today, it happened. I was reading a blog that referenced an article I thought I might be interested in. I googled the article and discovered that it had been published in The Writer's Chronicle in Oct/Nov of 2003. I recieved my MFA in May 2003 and became a member of AWP sometime before that. A surge of geaky excitement pulsed within. I finally had a reason to delve into the backissues under the futon.
Heady with excitement, or at least just eager to read the article, I pushed my desk chair aside and dragged the plastic storage bin into the light of day. I wiped another month's worth of dust from the cover and popped the handles loose. I dug through the stack, found 2004 towards the bottom, and got a bit nervous. There didn't seem to be enough copies to get me into 2003. My fingers swept across the bottom of the bin and fished up the last copy I had (the first copy I'd thought to keep): December 2003.
**Two hours later it struck me that the Chronicle might archive the articles online. Sure enough, there it was. Now I seriously question this desire to keep the physical object when the content is preserved for all time online.