[CLICK TITLE TO READ MORE] Just now, sitting up in bed, I have already updated my progress on Ursula K. Le Guin’s last book No Time to Spare. Le Guin ruminates about, among other things such as her cat and overpopulation, the meaning of spare time. Here I have to stop for a moment.
Through my email inbox, The Literary Hub offers links to various articles and I read one or two of those. The New Yorkers sends me the frequent Borowitz Report. I read the headline and kicker, but I do not click through.
The New Yorker wants me to subscribe. This is my “last chance.”
I read a good deal every day. I read stories from three newspapers (I subscribe online to two of them) and some days I read stories on NPR or The Atlantic. I read Brevity—both the blog and the magazine. I read short fiction on four SF/fantasy websites. I receive daily posts from three poetry websites, and occasional ones from a poet and an educator, plus a handful of others. Sometimes I even read whatever book I am carrying around. In the school library I look over a magazines.
I do not read The New Yorker cover to cover, though I have a friend who has been doing that since we were both in high school, going on 50 years ago. I have an attitude about The New Yorker. I am not their target demographic.
Even when Jamaica Kincaid was writing Talk of the Town, I found the magazine elitist and representative of a view from, as Walter Lee Younger declared, “a bunch of hustling people all squeezed together being Eastern.” Richer than me, too. It is one of the magazines I find in the library. I enjoyed Zadie Smith’s essay about (finally) discovering Joni Mitchell. I sometimes read the fiction, which used to be common in magazines and is still featured there. I routinely urged students to check it out for full length literary analysis essays, another increasing rarity in mainstream magazines. I do not subscribe.
These days, I subscribe to Poets & Writers, which I fail to read, and occasional other literary journals, which I also fail to read. This failure to subscribe has not always been my practice. There were years when I subscribed to many journals and read each one cover to cover, particularly making note of fiction. One year, when The Best American Short Stories (BASS) came out, I had already read all but two of the award-winning stories.
Then my thesis adviser, as I was completing my MFA, asked: “Why bother to submit to journals? No one reads them.”
And I realized that I didn’t read them anymore either. It was the most depressing thing anyone had said to me since my mother began dying. I felt that my literary goals had been shot dead on the spot. Certainly this was not the intention of my mentor, but it bit deep, even so.
The New Yorker wants me to subscribe, and I am a reader. But no. I will read in the library and I will read periodicals online and save the paper.
I will not be subscribing. It is not my last chance. I receive such emails at least once a week. The New Yorker will offer many others.
In the mean time, I am not done myself. This is not my last chance. I will go for a walk this morning once it is light enough to see. I was asked to bake a birthday cake for our youngest grandchild’s 2nd birthday party. EV just turned two. She likes pink and she like berries so there will be wild huckleberries in the cake, blackberries tinting the buttercream pink, and raspberries on top. I will be busy today making lemon curd, a layer cake, and buttercream. There is a lot to get done and I have only an outline of my day. I have not yet begun.
At 65, I accept that some things are pretty much over for me. No plans to run another 10k. I will not be teaching full time again. Not ever. But I am still doing most things I love. I am writing every day. This is not my last chance.
What I do now is not my last chance, but I have no time to spare.