Originally published on Dandelion Revolution Press website February 8, 2021.
There, sitting in the booth of Panera Bread, frantically jotting down notes as the four of us ping-ponged ideas about our future press around the table, I could feel excitement bubbling inside me. “I already can’t wait until we publish our first anthology,” I blurted out, my cheeks aching from grinning. I couldn’t stop imagining myself holding a physical copy of the book, my book — our book.
It was July 2019.
It would be two months until we landed on a press name and opened our call for submissions, receiving over thirty stories. From people we didn’t know! Who trusted us with their words!!!!
It would be five months until we selected the stories we would publish, and six months until we would edit, format, design a cover, figure out the truth behind how much work is actually needed to publish an anthology. (A lot.)
It would be seven months from that day until we would launch our debut anthology.
And eight months until the world was put on indefinite hold due to a little thing called COVID-19.
But of course, none of us knew of any of that then, sitting in that Panera, stars in our eyes.
All we knew was we were crazy women with a crazy dream. And we were just crazy enough to make that dream a reality.
2019 was a pivotal year. (Not quite as pivotal as 2020, but we’re still processing that.)
The community writing group where we had all met was undertaking it’s biggest feat yet — publishing a horror anthology. I had submitted to the project, fingers crossed, thinking, is this actually going to happen? Will my words finally be out there in the world?
The answer was yes, and later that year, my little weird story about two girls finding a mouse in a movie theater would find its way to print, and I would be proud. I would fall in love with storytelling in ways I didn’t think possible. I would open the proof copy and see my words on the page, and they would grow blurry as I blinked back tears.
But I’d be left a little empty. Hungry. Wanting more.
Enter: Bethany Chernay.
She was the one who initially threw out the idea of a women’s anthology, who talked about it with me over beers, who had such a clear vision of what she wanted. It was intoxicating to be around Bethany when she dreamed up this anthology, but of course, it could never happen. Don’t dream too hard, I told myself, because it hurts when you wake up. A women’s anthology was something cute to imagine; envisioning what kind of launch parties we’d have and feminist issues we’d bring to light.
Bethany didn’t let go. She asked “Well, why not?” She called out to a few members of our writers group to see who’s in. Ashini and Hayley raised their hands and echoed back: Why not?
Life truly begins when you find the courage to ask, “Why not?”
Jump to May 2020, the world in full pandemic mode. Jump to me, sitting with my laptop, holding my breath and pressing the send button with shaky fingers. The subject of the email: “Future………….”
We had done it! Our debut anthology had been published two months before in March, a week before the shutdown. Now here I was, sending Bethany, Hayley, and Ashini an email asking about the possibilities of a second anthology. It was one part disbelief (“How is it already time to think about a second anthology? Did we not just publish our first?!”), one part apologetic, (“I’m sorry, maybe you ladies would prefer to work on your own projects?”), one part panic (“Is 2020 even real?!”).
Sending that email felt like jumping off a cliff.
And Bethany had answered, “A lot of people are creating right now. I want a second anthology.”
And Ashini said, “Ooh, I have to go dig up something I wrote twenty years ago.”
And Hayley exclaimed, “ARE YOU KIDDING ME YES I WANT WOMEN’S ANTHOLOGY 2! I EVEN HAVE A TITLE!”
I may have jumped off a cliff, but my DRP ladies were there to catch me.
Thinking if a second anthology was possible, if we were capable of doing all this work again but this time in a pandemic, there are really only two words to counter that. Why not?
Why not dream? Why not try? Why not us?
Special shoutout to Jen, who was present in that Panera and monumental in DRP’s start.
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