Sometimes You Start, Right
by Raymond Gaston
During my final residency at Antioch’s low residency MFA program in December 2011, I walked into the head of the program’s, Steve Heller’s, office. I sat down gingerly. We looked at each other. Hours seemed to pass. This sit-off lasted until I cracked, of course.
“It’s kinda stupid that we don’t have a literary journal, Steve.”
“Uh-huh,” he replied.
“We should probably start one,” I said.
“Uh-huh,” he said again.
Me, filled with discomfort, and him filled with a Dumbledorian buoyancy—we stared at each other, yet again, and once more it was me who—
“I could… try… to… start it,” I finally said.
“Great,” he replied. “We actually already have a name: Lunch Ticket. Before you ask, a previous cohort came up with it and tried to launch, but no one was stupid enough to take on the task. Best of luck. I’ll announce it to everyone later so you can’t back out. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to rewrite my 900-page novel for the eighth time, from memory of course; the save function is for people who don’t understand voice.”
With that I backed out of his office.
We announced that we would be starting a literary journal and we held a meeting to find volunteers—and despite all the warnings of how much we didn’t know about what we were doing, we cobbled together a highly competent staff.
Rick Moody and Natasha Tretheway were guest artists at the residency, so I asked them if they would agree to be interviewed, and despite my sweating palms they said yes, which helped out immeasurably. We then had to scrape our way through, figuring everything out as we went along, and eventually we just forced this fucking thing into existence. I was lucky too that every genre editor and all the staff were really excited and carried their weight, my weight, and more. To me, this was the best part of the experience, working together with students in both my cohort and the other cohorts— getting to learn more about each other—tastes, philosophies, ways of relating and working—all the things that you can miss out on in a low-residency program.
We launched it at the following residency, and then I was told, as I often am in most situations, to get the fuck out, and I did.
Raymond Gaston received his MFA in creative writing from Antioch University, where he was the launching editor in chief of Lunch Ticket, a literary journal published by the Antioch MFA community. He recently spoke and read at the Hawaii International Conference on Arts and Humanities, and was invited to the Institute des Hautes Etudes en Arts Plastiques, part of the Paris Biennale. His fiction has appeared in The Commonline Journal, Five2One Magazine, and the Evening Street Press. His artwork has been shown at the Brand Museum, the Santa Monica Gallery, and in private collections around the world.