Connection, Appreciation, Teaching, Learning, Generosity, and Love—That's Why I'm Here
Letter from the Editor
Six years. Two hundred twenty-five voices published. For the first years of Under the Gum Tree, there were three of us and we all read every story and discussed every story in-person, in the back room of a small yellow house. Since then, we have managed to bring in readers and editors to support the magazine and attract submissions. Currently, we have Becca (since 2013 issue 12), Elison (2014 issue 14), and relative newbies Demetri and Matt (2017 issue 23), who have day jobs and on top of those spend valuable time reading our contributors’ stories with an astute critical eye and a writer’s heart. They never dismiss a story out of hand. Each piece receives careful comments. I read all of the comments and many entire stories that arrive in our queue. (How many stories does this mean I, personally, have read?) Because we share our experiences of these stories, I feel connected to this team, and I’m incredibly grateful for them.
To publish the stories of 225 people over six years, how many hours have we dedicated connection, appreciation, teaching, learning, generosity and love—that’s why I’m here to the careful consideration, the critical curation—to the respectful presentation? A labor of love. How I wish we could all survive on love and appreciation. This I have to give, in abundance.
So, here we are, another year gone by. And it is fall. The teachers and the kids are back at school. If you’re lucky enough to be a student this time of year, you are looking at so many opportunities for growth and connection. College and grad school is where I really thrived. I sat in the second row, was always prepared for class, engaged with the material—pretty much your cliché first-born English major. At least once, I was so moved by a piece of literature I cried during the class discussion (thank you, Kate Chopin). I had some outstanding teachers.
Between undergraduate and graduate school I taught high school for a few years. I had the opportunity to get to know some great young adults, and though ultimately standing in front of the classroom was not for me (I loved planning the lessons, but enforcing behavioral rules not-so-much), I wouldn’t trade meeting those amazing people. Some of these students I am still in contact with. They are like thirty-something now.
Seven of the pieces included in this issue have been crafted by teachers. Our premier issue, August 2011, included a flash feature by Sacramento-area high school teacher and writer Deborah Meltvedt, and here in October 2017, we are happy to bring you another one of her true stories. In this issue, we have a story by a driven high school student—our youngest contributor. You’ll also find stories about difficult choices, about questioning our decisions and having them turn out to be the right ones; questioning our decisions and having them turn out to be the wrong ones. Putting differences aside for the sake of love; embracing differences for the sake of love. Like our staff, all of these writers and artists have shared a bit of their life with us, and we are indebted to them for it.
I could use this opportunity to comment on the tragic circumstances of America today— the fomenting hate, greed, selfishness, othering, exclusion, resentment, hopelessness; the rejection of critical thinking, of science, of arts. I could write about personal existential and intellectual struggles to understand privilege and responsibility. Instead, I have written about generosity and gratitude and love, which, as Deborah writes, comes “in so many forms, in so many ways.”
Keep writing, revising, and bravely submitting your true stories.