This past week I opened the submission period for Houston Baptist University’s debut literary journal Writ in Water. The submission period started on the 8th of November (i.e. on the same day as the US Presidential Election), will conclude on the 8th of February, 2017, and the journal will be published digitally on May 1st. Writ will be accepting short stories and poetry, and although the publication is affiliated with a Christian college, the submissions will not have to be religious in nature. Instead, Writ’s editorial board is seeking literature that combines good writing and the human experience.
Writ is the result of months of deliberate planning and meetings, but I have wanted to start a literary journal for a long time – since childhood, in fact, when I first read an issue of The New Yorker and wondered about the lives of editors-in-chief. When I began working as the Writing Coordinator of HBU’s Academic Success Center, I realized that my life goal could also benefit the college community, especially its emerging writers and artists. The Success Center, after all, doesn’t only serve struggling students with their grades – success comes in a variety of forms, including publication.
The Academic Success Center and HBU Administration were very supportive of the journal. My conflict was naming the thing. Trouvaille, which is French for a lucky find or discovery by chance, was considered, along with Numinous, a word that means a strong spiritual moment or the presence of divinity. But Writ in Water had three aspects which won out in the end:
Aspect One) On Mount Sinai, as recounted in the book of Exodus, Moses received two tablets of covenant law. These Laws were God-writ and therefore eternal. From this we have derived the idiom “nothing is written in stone” to signify that nothing else is permanent, perpetual, or predictable.
Aspect Two) The phrase “writ in water” comes from John Keats’ deathbed request to not include his name on his gravestone. Instead, the young feverish poet who “foresaw his death with brutal clarity” wanted only the mysterious line: “Here lies One Whose Name was Writ in Water.”
Aspect Three) The Bible, too, has a context for water, as God’s Word, as God’s Intervention, as the Holy Spirit. Isaiah 44:3 says that God will “pour out water on the thirsty lands and streams;” Corinthians 12:13 that “we were all baptized into one body… we were all made to drink of one Spirit;” and Jesus says in John 3:5 that “no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.” Appropriate metaphors for a Baptist institution.
From these wells I draw my inspiration.
Stacey, Michelle. “Writ in Water: The enduring mystery of Keats’s last words.” The Paris Review, 23 February 2016.