catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 3, Num 16 :: 2004.10.08 — 2004.10.21


The issue in process

An issue of catapult always starts with a brainstorm, usually in the car when we?re en route to somewhere at least two hours away. Rob has been saying for about two weeks by this point, ?We need to get the road journal

(1) out.? And putting out the quarterly newsletter requires a quarter?s worth of issue topics and titles.

So finally, I pull out a notebook and a pen and I start to think. I open my day planner, write down the dates of the next quarter?s issues and stare at them for a good five minutes. Then, I consider previous submissions that are collecting dust in my working folder, topics that have been on my mind frequently, and upcoming holidays and events. Eventually, titles and issue topics begin to materialize and I jot notes next to each about people and articles that would be a suitable fit. From that point on, the upcoming topics are constantly in my consciousness until we lay them to rest with the final late night review.

At least three weeks before an issue is due to magically appear on a computer screen near you, I try to send out a notice to our writer?s e-mail list. The list is something that?s only been in place since last spring, but it has helped tremendously as far as having a suitable number of submissions and involving more volunteers. I encourage writers and sometime-writers to think about what they might have sitting around in their own working folders collecting dust, that might just find new life in the approaching issue. I try to include some thought-provoking questions to get someone?s wheels turning toward something that?s been sleeping in the back of his or her brain. And sometimes, I beg.

What I?m ultimately after is honest, articulate accounting of the struggle to live faithfully in a broken world. Those stories take many forms, from philosophical to practical, from photographic to verbal. Ideally, the magazine should be a point of contact for those who ?get it??that is, for those who understand that behind the world?s gray is a beautiful, true Kingdom that we?ve been invited to cultivate here and now. Of course, not every article fully engages this idea. Sometimes, I?m stuck in the proverbial eleventh hour publishing an issue or an article I know is not as full or provocative as the one before. I?m still learning to deal with this dilemma, but planning ahead goes a long way toward making sure we can collect what we and our readers need.

Typically, I start receiving articles in the week before the issue goes up. A goal I?ve just begun to achieve is to be more organized about the inflow of stuff. I?ve set up issue folders in my e-mail program to which I can transfer messages with articles attached. Then, I download the files to the issue folder on my hard drive. Each article gets a full going-over?for spelling and grammatical consistency, for proper flow, and for HTML coding (which drives me nuts, but saves Rob a lot of time). Each block quote, link, list and italicized word must have it?s proper doohickeys or?else. I also make sure each article has a title, summary and keywords.

Once the articles are edited, I create a document with issue information for Rob listing all of the articles and picture suggestions and I transfer everything over to his computer?thank goodness for wireless connections. He then works his magic in top-secret, behind-the-scenes sections of the web site to post all of the elements of the issues. As he madly cuts, copies, pastes, and codes, my editorial takes shape. Ideas that have been simmering for a couple of weeks become a block of neatly typed text on a screen and then nothing as I zip the file over to the Big Mac. Then, usually with a half-hour to spare, we stand back and preview the new issue homepage minutes before collapsing into bed for a sleep-in Friday morning.

And you wake up to this. Thank you for making the work worthwhile.

1. The road journal is the quarterly publication of *culture is not optional that goes out to our whole mailing list. In addition to a sampling of work from the online magazine, it includes personal updates about our board and staff members, prayer requests, and a list of upcoming magazine issues and events. If you?d like to begin receiving the road journal (the belated September issue is still in the works), please e-mail me at

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