Trying has left me delirious. This past year I’ve tried to stay sober, to love and be loved by my family, to work in and for my community, to be ecstatic in the face of loud and quiet dangers, to rise when the truth demanded it of me, and I even tried to keep writing. Thankfully, in that list of trying, I managed to stay sober and on my feet for another year. Loving was easier than being loved for some dark reason. Work was met with resistance. Writing got weirder and less certain. The truth, as I can best see it, has met and shrunk from my desire to know it. Fear is an entrée for so many people, they gorge on it, and here I am with my oatmeal and berries trying to stay strong in a way active enough to make progress on making progress. I can stand. I can pose with strength, but what else? Where is the beauty?
Here is the beauty. The work you all produced, that was nominated, that was a finalist, that was selected for inclusion in this year’s Best of the Net Anthology was beautiful. It was ornery and needed. You folks were surgical in your dissection of hate. You gave flesh to the skeletons of hope I imagined most had left behind in a closet somewhere. Muscle and flesh and the blood to give hope actual dancing skills. It was incredible to read through some of the work as it came in. This job is the best key. I get to enjoy all of your entries and exits on my own. I don’t have to determine or voice an opinion on anything in particular. So, I read, and I get to experience your wonderful efforts. You led me to joy. You led me to the adrenaline I needed. You were all fighting for something, and I admire every single writer that was nominated this year just for trying as hard as you did. None of this is easy. None of us expect it to be easy. I don’t see a way it will get easier, but I don’t care about that part as much as I used to.
Thank you to every magazine/journal/review/experiment that nominated work this year. The editors of these endeavors make so many things possible. Please never doubt that the work you do is vital to our community. Thank you to our many interns and readers. I hope you all had as much fun as I did this year. Thank you to our incredible genre editors, Tasha Coryell, Ellen Orner, and Sarah Chavez. All three of you are so beyond our expectations every year. Thank you to our supremely-talented final judges, Amber Sparks, Rhonda Lott, Mai Deir Vang, and Krys Malcom Belc. Choosing the work for inclusion in the anthology is a daunting task, and you all gave your time and attention to those hard choices. Thank you to Erin Elizabeth Smith and Sundress Publications for giving me the key to play with. Thank you to our Managing Editor, Anna Black, for keeping everything running smoother and smoother every year she’s in charge.
These days, when I wobble, I wobble because one of you caught me on my heels, and decided a bit of awkward dance suited me better than the resigned stance of a middle-aged man stuck watching the sun set over a Giant Eagle at the bottom of the hill. Thank you for that energy, that flourish, and that sweeping wind that turns me about when I need it most.
Darren C. Demaree, Editor-in-Chief