Stepping into the Ring




If you asked me six months ago whether I would be currently writing words for a literary magazine that I helped create, I would probably laugh it off with a wave, shaking my head at the idea that I would not only have the courage but the drive to make such a thing happen. I used to think of myself as a dreamer but not so much a doer, and because that thought always depressed me, I somewhere along the way stopped dreaming altogether. I chose apathy, and that was a mistake. I would wonder if I pretended at it long enough whether I would eventually feel as assertive as I portrayed.

As we edged toward the beginning of 2015 last year, I was doing a lot of reflecting – on my life, my career, my relationships, my general life path. I had once considered the idea of creating a literary magazine out of my blog but abandoned it shortly in my research process, feeling the idea was too big for me. I realize now that this is where I often stalled, the point right before the leap. My fear of taking on too much, of taking on things too big for my abilities, would paralyze me and prevent me from moving beyond the idea. So when Wren was dreaming of creating Loveliest, feeling fearful of what the future could be, wondering how much of this dream was actually tangible, I decided I wanted to stop stalling. We both knew what this could be become, but it required the release of doubt, which is something I am not skilled at doing.

During the making of this magazine, I was reading Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises. One of the characters, Robert Cohn, explains to Jake: “I can’t stand it to think my life is going so fast and I’m not really living it.” I empathized with this notion of inferiority, of not living my life all the way up. I wanted to instead feel sanguine about my choices and life direction, about all the things I had former doubts about. Storytellers are created by living, by experiencing. To me, the risk is worth taking because I fully believe in not just the fear but the hope in what is on the other side of the leap. Though Jake felt the only ones living their lives all the way up were the bullfighters, I think it’s a great metaphor for what it means to chase after and wrangle with something much more powerful and larger than you. Dreams often feel that way, and the dance to control them, to tame them, to create reality out of them, is both exhaustible and exhilarating. But in order to have a shot at living all the way up, one must first step into the ring.

I feel confident in our idea and our ability to create something that, in short, will always remain a place for storytelling and togetherness. There is meaning in even the seemingly mundane, the word by word of it. Perhaps in part we selfishly created this magazine to remind ourselves that we matter, that we are capable of writing our own stories, but we see this familiar thread among many other creatives – the “isn’t it pretty to think so?” observation of our dreams rather than the determination to be all in. Loveliest is a byproduct of a big idea, but in the making, it has become the hallmark of what it means to be vulnerable and gracious and strong. It has evolved into a flagship of forever believing that our reflections are more than the doubts that stall us but are also reflections worth exploring and sharing.

4 Responses to Stepping into the Ring

    • Self-doubt is an incredibly heavy and tortuous thing to carry around, and it can be so difficult to move past.. The strength you’ll feel as you shove it all away in order to go after what you want, the things that make you happy and whole, will be worth it. You deserve so much, and you owe yourself the chance to try. I applaud you and see you for recognizing your own self-doubt. That is an amazing step, though it may not feel like it at first. But it will aid you in stepping into that ring. Part of what makes stepping into it so exciting is the unknowns of it. But going all in is the only way to get to know what is within that unknown. You’ve got this, Ashley! Thank you so much for reading.

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