Editor’s Note: The Forest for the Trees

by Chad M. Crabtree

February 15, 2023

If what follows seems like a motley collection of writing and art with no overarching theme, that’s because it is—for the most part. While the decision to forego a theme for this inaugural issue was a conscious one, it might have been a mistake. But perhaps not. Our reasoning was twofold.

On the one hand, we feared a specific theme might dissuade enough potential contributors as to leave us without sufficient material for publication. Indeed, we were concerned about the volume of submissions even without a theme. We just needed 150 to 200 submissions, we thought. Surely that would be enough to get started. That was 828 submissions ago.

But the second reason we pushed forward without a theme was far more significant for us as a publication: going into this venture, we only had a vague sense of what we were looking for in contributions. Perhaps, we reasoned, by casting a wide net, the variety of submissions would allow us to better define our standards, tastes, and the tenor of the magazine. On this count, I believe the decision was a good one.

Removing thematic limitations for this first issue gave us the opportunity to make of this magazine something our small team and our extraordinary contributors can truly own. We had the freedom to ignore much of the minutiae involved in curating a tightly-themed issue. Does this count? Is that too much of a stretch? Is their definition of the theme just different from ours? Does this writer’s voice fit? Will this make sense? None of that. Instead, we had the privilege of taking a wide-angle, panoramic view of what we wanted the magazine to be.

In other words, by opening ourselves up to consider to anything and everything creators were proud of and willing to share, we moved much closer to our stated goal: seeing the forest for the trees.

With this disclaimer behind us, I hope you will immerse yourself in the creativity that follows and embrace it for all its variety, contradictions, affirmations, and provocations.

About Chad M. Crabtree

Chad M. Crabtree is the Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Arboreal Literary Magazine. He lives in Oregon’s rainy but Pinot-Noir-rich Willamette Valley with his wife, Shawna, and baby daughter, Rylan.

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