Introduction to 396 Hours


There’s nothing greater than to be inspired. All that makes life a glorious endeavor derives from that. Love in its transient or perennial bloom, the letting go of all restraint in the service of the heart’s reach, the making of things that fly. Something blows on the coals of imagination, and we have our moments on fire. It wants to move through us. We know it does. Into the world and onto the air in machines that come from our fingertips. Apparently it only takes 396 hours. All we have to do is stretch ourselves, breathe in, and have the guts to put out our hands.

Sometimes it’s something outside us that causes it. A story, a poem, a painting, a strain of music, the color of light in a certain place, or the angle of it when it strikes water or snow or sand or skin, a sudden breadth of wildflowers, the shudder of memory tripped in the mouth, the curve of a hip, a ferocious beauty or a tender one, a lick of comic salt, a trick of bourbon. The stories and poems in this book smolder with peculiar things. I could feel the ruddy heat of them in the room when these writers gathered. It took nothing to let the air in. A suggestion. That’s all.

So they made this book. From scratch. Edited it. Encouraged each other, and there are few better things artists can do. Layout, design, aerodynamics, everything. To publish themselves. Not because going indie is fashionable, but because it’s possible. Not to set themselves alongside Walt Whitman, Virginia Wolff, Anais Nin, and the like, but to lock arms in a singular endeavor.  Not to prove the connection between literary legitimacy and traditional publishing is crumbling—we all know self-published books are now reviewed in the New York Times and Publishers Weekly, and every day more established authors are going out on their own—but because they believe in the work and want to share it. Each one of them does.

I get it.  I really do.  When you love the work, you want to see who you are when you put yourself in a place where you can call yourself by it.  And if you build a kite, there is this wonderful feeling that attends when you sail it yourself.  It’s like a voice that way.  One doesn’t need anyone to tell you it’s worth raising.  One only needs the wind and the will and the capacity for joy in loosing the machine that has come out of you. If it’s yar, folks will see it as it should be seen. Soaring.

The authors here are inspired and inspiring.  This is a marvelous book of dreams.


396 Hours