Issue 1 Editorial – “It’s (a)live!”

And that’s a wrap!

After months of work from both editors and contributors, we are delighted to announce full publication of Cicerone Journal’s first issue.

Having reached this happy milestone, it feels right to think over what we have done, why we have done it, and where we intend to go next.

Cicerone Journal was created because we were interested in seeing something different and new. Yet we have also lived this novelty in creating Cicerone Journal.

Cicerone Journal began, as many ideas do, in conversations beginning with “wouldn’t it be great if…” These conversations became obsessions and compulsions which eventually overcame our initial uncertainty and reticence. We realised that being open to new ideas is not a passive act; it is rather an act of seeking, of participating and of trying, in whatever ways we can, to work against the forces that reject openness to difference and the unknown.

So we decided to commit to starting a literary journal; told a few friends about our ideas so we’d be held accountable to our words; and leapt in.

While we’d all worked with and for literary publications before, none of us had ever founded one. Yet we figured that creating something is almost always better than creating nothing, and that we’d simply have to give it a try. We have therefore tried to approach Cicerone Journal with the curiosity and openness to learning that we hope other people bring to their work.

Cicerone Journal is very much about supporting emerging writers, and ideally doing so by publishing established and emerging writers alongside one another in order to help people new to the industry in getting a foothold. We’re keen to encourage and reward empathetic curiosity, originality, and experimentalism, including across genre and languages. We also wanted to establish a journal with ties to the Canberra community, as there aren’t many of these at present.

Indeed, there are many literary journals out there, but some are of such longevity, prominence, and popularity that submitting to them can be intimidating – and, in some cases, near fruitless if one is still in the early stages of one’s writing career. The volume of submissions received by these journals shows that there is demand for literary platforms, however; and, while it’s no fault of these journals that they must reject the majority of submissions, we don’t want emerging writers to feel discouraged as they try to carve out a small space in the writing world. This is why we are committed to developing a journal which, whether or not it grows into publishing big names, will always have space for new and emerging voices. Being inclusive and welcoming is important to us.

Ah. Noble intentions! Intentions, however, don’t always translate into practical skills. We were, at first, running the journal on a click and a promise. 2018 was comprised of long meetings over coffee, crash courses in operating a website, and awkwardly nudging our literary start-up into conversations with talented writerly acquaintances.

We have put this issue together while learning on the job how to run or manage a literary journal, being true amateurs in this instance. We have learned just how much dedication and passion and sheer time goes into running a literary journal. This has also heightened our appreciation for everyone else who commits their time to literary journals.

We’ve been fortunate to receive such a positive response and degree of interest from both friends and strangers, in the Canberra community as well as further abroad. Thank you to everyone who sent in work and who helped support writers by reading what was published. Your support is valued.  

We are also proud to publish so many firsttime writers in our first issue. It is our hope that we continue to receive such a diversity of work – work which shows us new understandings of language, place and time. In future issues, we are hopeful to see even greater diversity of form and style and experimentation (genre-defying short fiction, anyone? Get in touch!). We also continue to encourage works from all those who want to share with us their ideas, experiences, and imaginings.

Without everyone who took a chance on us, we could not exist or continue. We have yet more good intentions for the coming year, including paying contributors, in-person events, and opportunities to support young writers based in Canberra.

We look forward to venturing further out into the unknown with you in 2019.