Hard CORR Publisher
Independent literary journal: Take two
Adam Wynott was riding his bike through downtown Reno one day last year. It was hot, and he was a little hung-over. Something about the combination—the blurry, dreamlike heat and the soft-focus of concentration—gave him an idea. He decided to start a literary journal.
Wynott, now 24, was a senior at the University of Nevada, Reno pursuing a creative writing major. The only other Reno literary journals he knew of were university-based, university-funded, and mostly university-distributed. (Brushfire at UNR and The MeadoW at Truckee Meadows Community College. The well-respected arts journal Neon, with which Wynott was then unfamiliar, is published through the Nevada Arts Council.) Wynott wanted to do something a bit different. Something independent.
He sketched out some ideas and hung flyers around Reno seeking submissions. Working from his laptop at home or local cafés, he started the City of Reno Review, or CORR. The first issue debuted last summer. Published by Patriot Printing in Carson City, it was in a book format and featured a baby blue background with a simple drawing of an apple eaten down to the core. “Review” was misspelled on that first printing, and Wynott went through by hand with a red pen, correcting each published copy. The effect was amusing and seemed almost intentional—the mark of a first-time editor.
The latest issue, despite its summertime release, is “Winter 2007, Volume two, Issue one.”
Wynott sits at a local coffee shop, his leg bent at the knee and bouncing slightly as he talks, his startlingly blue eyes framed by a head of brown hair.
“It’s a good time to be in Reno now. With all the do-it-yourself projects happening,” he says, citing the Reno Bike Project, Holland and (con)Temporary Gallery.
“People are finding areas of the community that are lacking and doing something about it.”
He says there is a quiet demand from both writers and readers for local literary journals.
“I just think there’s a lot of good, creative output coming from the community and not enough places to present it,” he says. “It’s rare for the literary artist to get credit. It’s an art form that takes more than its share of hits anyway. I’m trying to show people it still has value.”
Reflection of Reno
A dump truck with an image on its side of a typewriter is positioned in the bottom, right-hand corner of CORR’s latest cover, which was designed by Chase Chivers. A layer of newsprint blankets the journal’s front and back. Inside are poems of Mormon crickets, death and break-ups; photographs of old books, bums, motels and rail cars; stories of characters struggling to improve their lot while continuing to drown in it—a divorced casino worker trying to help his daughter get away from her meth-roasted mom, a son who cares for his sick father at the expense of his dreams, a woman’s one-night stand with a circus entertainer, a man trying to stop time and save lives with a parking meter.
It’s both an indictment and a celebration of life on all margins of the community.
This from Michael Croft’s short story “Townsend’s Solitaire:”
The final blow came after he found a new way to humiliate himself. Taken down in a sea-change of accusation, like running late into the pit with his tie still undone, or flubbing the count on the games one too many times, or being short with the high roller who insisted the olives in his drink be no bigger than a dime, he got busted back to dealing and relegated to the twenty-five cent craps game in the basement of the club, catering to bums and other assorted street people. One night, after knocking his way through several shot of VO in the Hideaway Room, he wandered outside and got mugged in the parking lot by two twelve year old girls, who threw him to the ground and kicked him in the head a few dozen times, before taking off with the fifty-five dollars he had tucked in the bottom of his shoe.
Wynott says the down-and-out tone of the journal “may be a reflection of Reno.” The writers and artists in the journal are all local, although some of their works are set elsewhere. The grittier side of this city seems to have aided their imaginations.
“I think writers are kind of depressed people in general, and they’re trying to get that out,” says Wynott.
Lacey Damron, an English major at UNR, contributed short stories to both the first and latest issues of CORR. He says that many national literary journals are highly competitive, with “multitudes of people” hoping to get inside their covers.
“We writers tend to be egomaniacs with inferiority complexes when it comes to our writing,” says Damron. CORR, he says, provides a literary outlet for aspiring writers in the area.
“It’s given me a physical manifestation of where I want to be—a published author,” says Damron. “When you create something and then see it in print, there’s something magical about that, and Adam provides that for us. It’s a good springboard for giving the writer or artist self-esteem to move forward.”
With a degree in creative writing, Wynott says he’s most drawn to short fiction.
“Fiction can teach you how to be a degenerate gambler,” he says. “Fiction can teach you how to be married—things you may not normally go through.”
But he hopes to fill CORR with everything from essays to visual art. He admires the work of Granta, Open City, McSweeney’s, and The Missouri Review—all longstanding literary journals. But he’s unsure of CORR’s future—at least, as long as it’s so intricately tied to his own.
Wynott graduated from UNR in December and is in that post-grad purgatory of wondering what’s next—career, grad school, exotic travel?—while tossing pizza and substitute teaching, waiting for the fog to clear.
Though Wynott had help from friends selecting final submissions and producing cover art, CORR is primarily a one-man show. Production costs come straight from his pocket (with CORR’s $9 sales price, he broke even on the last issue), and all submissions are received and lightly edited on his laptop. He’s the guy who distributes flyers, solicits submissions and makes sure copies of the journal are available at places like Dharma Books and Sundance Bookstore.
Wynott is uncertain of CORR’s future, but he’d sure like it to have one. He’d like lots of things: He’d like someone else to become involved with it, so that CORR will be self-sustaining once he decides his next life steps. He’s interested in seeking nonprofit status so that he can apply for grants. He’d like to pay contributors and have some sort of marketing budget.
Wynott says that while there were occasional nerve-wracking glitches at the printers and tough decisions to reject some friends’ submissions, the actual production of CORR was easier than spreading the word about it. For one thing, his bike is his only transportation, so his flyer-posting zone is limited.
“But then when [the journal is] done and you’re holding it, it just feels good,” says Wynott.
CORR has given Wynott a first-hand lesson in the frustrations and rewards of self-publishing.
“I learned that doing things like this is a lot of thankless unpaid work, but it’s still worth it,” he says.
“And I learned to proofread the cover before sending it out.”