Revolver got its start in a bar with a rowdy group of writers who regularly closed down the place, losing track of time, arguing about books. In this writer’s group I’m crazy enough to affiliate myself with, there is a great deal of shouting and the occasional violent outburst, but behind it all there is always a deep passion for the art of language and storytelling. In the summer of 2011, seven of us finally became so worked up about writing that we could no longer ignore the itch; we had to do something about it. This desire to spread the word about great writers finally steered Ben Barnhart, Luke Finsaas, Ross Nervig, Thorwald Esbensen, Marcus Anthony Downs, Alex Helmke, and me toward developing our own magazine.
Setting Up Revolver
One of our biggest challenges was agreeing on a name. But no matter how challenging, it taught us to brainstorm in a way that was fierce, yet respectful. We developed new levels of honesty, and we learned to sit with the discomfort of grasping for words to express complex ideas. Our brains began to merge! No, not really. But we gained deep insight into each editor’s mind. When we receive a submission now, we generally have a good idea which editor would be best suited to take it on.
We wanted a decentralized editorial process so that more types of stories could find their way to publication. We do generally take a vote on a piece, but if even one editor is the sole champion of a story, we’ll likely give it a chance; we each have a unique eye and we trust each other’s taste.
When we realized we needed to make ourselves legal, we brought in a couple lawyers to help us make some of the more difficult organizational decisions. Thankfully, though, a few of us have enough business experience that we were able to draft up bylaws, set up shares of stock, create contracts, appoint officers, and all the other mumbo jumbo, on our own.
When I was 8-years-old, an ice storm hit and knocked out the electricity of my family’s Iowa farm. We took refuge in the basement, where a gas heater kept us warm and candles flickered dim light on the faux wood paneling and puke-colored carpet (ah, my parents decorating from the 1970s). With the faith that this was a temporary visit to Technology-Free Land and young enough to not worry about food or basic necessities, this was all great fun to me. My older teenage siblings hated it. To keep the grumbling to a minimum and pass the time quicker, my parents brought out every game they could find.
And that’s how we spent the evening. Playing games and laughing, and I remember it strongly almost 20 years later. It’s one of the oldest, most vivid memories I have.
It’s an amazing thing the power of games. Regardless of how different our interests or lives have become, games have the ability to reconnect us and make us laugh. It’s that spirit that’s behind the Loft’s event tomorrow night, The Ultimate Master of Words, and it’s why I’m so excited about it. Yes, we have some great talent lined up. And yes, beer and wine (and lemonade!) will be flowing. But really, the best part of it will be the feeling in the room. A bunch of people who don’t know each other suddenly united by a love of wordplay and fun.
I hope you’ll be able to join us.
Tanner Curl is the Loft’s deputy development director, and even though he’s horrible a word games, he plays them anyway because they’re still fun (even when he loses).
The Loft Literary Center is sponsoring this year’s Vita.mn’s Best of Summer Short Story Contest, held at Hell’s Kitchen in Minneapolis. This year’s theme? The Seven Deadly Sins:
Wrath: inordinate and uncontrolled feelings of hatred and anger.
Greed: excessive or rapacious desire and pursuit of wealth, status, and power.
Sloth: the failure to utilize one?s talents and gifts OR laziness and indifference.
Pride: a desire to be more important or attractive than others, failing to acknowledge the good work of others and excessive love of self.
Lust: excessive thoughts or desires of a sexual nature.
Envy: more general than greed; resentment of another person who has something the self perceives themselves as lacking. A “desire to deprive other men of theirs.”
Gluttony: the overindulgence and overconsumption of anything to the point of waste.
Winners can receive up to $1,000 in prizes. For full contest rules and regulations, visit: http://www.vita.mn/about.php?d=responses&site_forum_id=13556
This summer, The Loft is offering a Food Writing course, led by Claire Stanford, whose food writing has been published on Grist, GOOD, the Bon Appétit website, the Slow Food blog, and Civil Eats. Whether you want to write a magazine article or pen a book-length food memoir, you’ll learn how to get your culinary experiences from the kitchen to the page. You will leave this class with one polished article-length piece.
For more information, click here.