SOME YEARS AGO when I had published about 35 Boxwooders on a monthly schedule, the idea arose of stretching the run to 100, and somewhere along the line it became a definite goal to publish 100 monthly issues.
It’s not that I think this is any record; Swift’s Weekly probably reached that number in two years, nor do I care about such records, but it is the achievement of a goal I had set for myself.
Now that my goal has been reached, will I keep publishing this journal on a monthly schedule? I do not know. I do know the next issue will be on schedule – it’s already done as I leapfrogged this issue – but I do not know whether I shall attempt to keep up the continuous run.
I need not tell you that maintaining a monthly schedule is not easy. It requires a minimum of 40 hours of labor, not counting writing time, for each Boxwooder published. This means I must work an average of over one hour per day on my journal. In fact, that’s about the way I do it. I work about one hour every weekday and anywhere from two to six hours on Saturdays and Sundays. One nice thing about printing is that one can, in most of the tasks, work just for a few minutes or for an hour and then leave the task until the next opportunity.
Most of the time I enjoy all the tasks associated with printing, but I’m not a machine, and many times the task to be done appears as a burden.
Obviously it requires luck in addition to effort to be able to publish for 100 consecutive months. A certain evenness of life is necessary – no serious illnesses, no moving from one house to another, no floods or fires, etc. And clearly some indulgence on the part of my wife was necessary and her recognition that doing this was of some importance to me.
It implies also that I’m a person of rather fixed habits. “Set in your ways” is my wife’s phrase for my stodginess. This stodginess shows up in many ways. At each restaurant where I eat lunch I almost invariably order the same thing every day. In some restaurants the waiter automatically brings me my usual order. Variety is obtained by visiting different restaurants. It is such a simplification – so reassuring to the waiter and to me. Neither of us has to give the matter any thought.
Stodginess causes others to build up confidence in their predictions of how one will behave. However I don’t really think of myself as fixed in my ways but rather that I’m in a state of quasi-equilibrium from which changes may be infrequent but sudden and large when they do occur. But this notion may merely be self-deception induced because no one likes to think of himself as stodgy or even as predictable.
It probably seems to you, and indeed some of your comments have hinted at it, that I methodically turn out one essay or short story after another with no worry about where the next one is coming from, but that’s not the way it is. In one of Jesse Stuart’s collections of short stories, he says he will never have time to write all the stories he has in his head. That’s far from the way I feel about my stories and essays. Every one I finish seems to me to be the last I can possibly write. I feel I’ve used up all my ideas, experiences, and observations and there’s nothing left. I have no feeling that there’s another some place in my head.
In fact I am having some difficulty writing for this issue. I feel lethargic and reluctant about writing copy for Number 100. Am I unconsciously hesitant about reaching the goal I had set? I am having to drag the words out.
A complication, and perhaps the real source of my difficulty, is that I’m about to retire after 30 years of civil service employment. I have been looking forward to retiring, but now that the time is almost here, 16 September 1977, in fact, I am aware of some uneasiness at the prospect of such a major change in my life. At the same time I am depending on my aj hobby, and this manifestation of it, to provide me a continuing source of interest when I leave my job. I think I fear that hobbies are more intriguing when the time to devote to them is scarce. In any event it is probably the mental tension of rapidly approaching retirement that is the cause of my difficulty just now in writing rather than the coincident happenstance that the copy is for Boxwooder 100.
I hope to have time after retirement to do more reading and studying for the production of some pieces that have been in the back of my mind for a long time. What with writing, printing, bike riding, grass cutting (now that son David has moved out), sport watching on TV, and doing other chores, I have too little time left for reading. For most of my life reading simply came first, and I did what I could in the time that remained, and I guess I could, at any time, revert to that mode. Only in the last few years have I quit reading a book because I didn’t like it or because it was of no interest to me.
My discrimination in reading has probably developed because writing takes so much of my time. As I have said, the chief result and aim in publishing the Boxwooder has been in forcing myself to write.
What has the Boxwooder done for me? Now and then one reads hints that NAPA publishers think the association owes them a debt of gratitude for their publishing efforts. Anyone who attempts to publish a journal on that basis is sure to be disappointed. In fact I do not believe anyone can go to the effort to publish a journal for any reason except that he benefits directly by the publication. Probably one could not publish a journal without an audience, but one does not publish a journal for their benefit but for one’s own. I can assure you that I get much more out of the Boxwooder than any, or all, of you. It’s obvious that I must when you think about it. As generous as you are with your praise, I hardly think you’d work 40 hours a month to receive a Boxwooder.
What has the Boxwooder done for me? It has done many things on many different levels. It has, first of all, provided me with the excuse, motive, or spur to attempt to learn to write. Writing an essay or a story that is more or less satisfactory to me is a valuable act akin to making a fine photograph (the only other creative, artistic act I’ve ever been able to accomplish). I am not pleased that the results are not the caliber that I intended, and worse that I’m unable to write a story that depends upon feelings or subtle emotions but must use strong plots as a crutch. Worse still, I don’t really see much improvement in my writing over the span of 100 journals. Oh, well.
The Boxwooder has provided me with an outlet for my ideas, my opinions, and my advice. It is the friend with whom I can argue and in whom I can, to some extent, confide. Few people are able to get anyone to pay any attention to their opinions or advice. The publication of a journal provides one, by the school-instilled authority of the printed word, with an audience that does pay attention.
I have tried strictly to avoid letting the Boxwooder be much influenced by readers’ reactions. I don’t want to fall into the mold and trap of trying to produce what I believe my readers want or expect. This is hard for me to explain; perhaps I don’t understand it clearly, but I want you to read what I want to write, not necessarily what you want to read. By the same token, I’m pretty sure I’ve avoided the most irritating fault in aj – taking my writing or journal too seriously.
On a different level, and perhaps a more important one, the Boxwooder has made friends for me all over this country and in some other countries as well. Members of NAPA that I meet for the first time already know from the Boxwooder whether they want to associate with me. One cannot publish his stories and essays and hide his characteristics from his readers. When I was young I wasted a lot of emotional energy worrying about the impression I was making and what people thought of me. The older I get the less I care about facades or appearances. One of the pleasures of age is the recognition that there is no need or benefit in trying to project a false image of yourself. I often wish I could tell young people to relax – that the people they’re so intent on impressing are not even paying attention. But it’s no use.
To want someone as a friend you must hold with him some basic standards. You may be very different in many respects but at the core there must be a similarity that you both agree on. This core is hard to uncover and years of knowing someone may be necessary before you are reasonably sure that you have similar cores. NAPA members shortcut this difficult discovery process by reading each other’s stories and essays in which the core is more readily revealed and thus friendships can quickly develop. So it happened that at an age when it is normally very difficult to make new friends, I find in a few years a number of them; real ones, too. This may well be the major value and benefit of the organization and the element that explains the addiction that so many of us have to the National Amateur Press Association and to the publishing of amateur journals. (August 1977)
1 & 100
AFTER MY first journal appeared in the bundle I received several cards and notes of encouragement. I had never met an amateur printer, much less a NAPA member, and I knew no one by name or reputation. I did recognize the signer of the first card; I knew from my first NA that he was the president of NAPA, and that made the note doubly welcome.
11 August 1969
I must congratulate you on an excellent contribution to the Bundle, The Boxwooder No. 1. Seldom have I seen a #1 issue that shows such evidence of becoming an outstanding journal. The printing is very good and I like your layout, selection of types and your literary content. Don’t be discouraged if you aren’t “flooded” by comments – NAPAens are conservative – a synonym of “Lazy.”
J. Ed Newman
And for issue 100:
16 August 1977
One thing I’m proud of – you not only produced, from the beginning, an outstanding journal, but have published consistently and even improved. Even if you never published another, The Boxwooder would surpass some of our “notable greats” (some of whom, as I once said in a Web, weren’t “great” at all) publications.
I have enjoyed your recent ones and read with great interest your “confessions” on bike riding. This is one of my favorites among many others you have done
J. Ed Newman
As time and journals rolled on J. Ed’s cards continued. I have not forgotten them. There were other notes from people I never heard of. I wondered: Who is Harold Segal? Bill Boys? John Gillick? J. Rolfe Castleman? Now I cannot imagine not knowing them.
10 August 1969
Dear Jacob L. Warner:
Very glad to see Number 1 issue of The Boxwooder. Enjoyed very much your lead bit on amateur printing.
The quote from Edwin Roffee I had seen somewhere before, but I particularly enjoyed the Stengel “quote” (Don’t hit it too hard but don’t hit it too easy.) which was new to me… and which is most appropriate to amateur printing.
Looking forward to many good things from your Boxwood Press
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15 August 1977
It is almost impossible to realize that The Boxwooder has come to us for 100 months in 100 consecutive NAPA bundles. It takes a practicing type-slinger to appreciate the tremendous amount of work necessary to get a 12-page-or-more journal printed and out on schedule every month for more than eight years. Never has such a feat been accomplished in our 102-year history.
And that is just part of the story. I have enjoyed almost every issue. The quality of the material, the bulk of which you have written, has deservedly earned laureates from many different judges of varied backgrounds. That trumps my personal high assessment.
All this from one who is not easily given to superlatives.
Jake, you are a credit to our small hobby world. I hope, in some measure on our part, there has been some reciprocation.
Looking forward to continued good things from your Boxwood Press.
And of course I had never heard of, nor read and laughed at any of the poems, articles, and stories of the following letter writer.
August 8, 1969
Dear J. L.,
Congratulations on The Boxwooder Number 1. Despite your protestations, I think that it’s well designed and nicely printed. I’m anxious to try the oatmeal raisin bread. but my wife will only bake in cooler weather. I’m sure that I’ll enjoy it as much as I did issue #1. Keep them coming.
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August 19, 1977
When I wrote that note to you in 1969, congratulating you on Boxwooder #1, it never occurred to me that I would be repeating the message for #100. Great work!
I enjoy the fine variety of material that you give us in your journal, and I admire the presswork. Anytime there’s a Boxwooder in the bundle, it’s a good bundle. That means we have had eight and one-third years of good bundles. I hope that we will continue to enjoy your journal for years to come.
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August 11, 1969
Am in receipt of the NAPA bundle and notice the Number 1 edition of The Boxwooder, an attractive effort in producing an amateur paper. Hope that we will see many more of them as time goes on.
I enjoyed your piece on amateur printing and what you say about it is the key to why many of the amateur printers I know like to do it, in fact pursue it most ardently. You can do your thing your way sans dissatisfied customer.
Welcome to the bundle and keep up the good work.
J. Rolfe Castleman
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5 Aug 69
Dear Mr. Warner,
Let me express my appreciation of your Boxwooder #1 in the July NAPA bundle. I’m looking forward to your discussion of hobbies and the use printing plays in them because I do a bit (mostly just wishfully) along those lines – especially with philately. I really got a chuckle out of your line: “printing has the infinite money sink required of all good hobbies.” That’s grand!
I applaud the variety of your paper which allows you to include even a recipe! Technical-wise, my copy seems have a bit of offsetting and the impression on the middle spread is not quite as sharp as on the cover and back – but overall a very nice job, pleasing to look at and enjoyable to read. I hope we get buried in boxwood! And the next query is obvious: is David going to get out his own version of a chip off the old block?
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31 August 1977
Yes, of course you may print my 1969 card. I had no memory whatever of having sent it. But even less did I have an intuition that when I said back then “I hope we get buried in boxwood,” that such was to be the result! I regret now using the analogy of “burial” at that time, for instead of a morbid or even merely a flooding metaphor, I should have used one of building. You have made Boxwooder a solid and towering edifice, not only to your own perseverance at the typecase and the press, and not only to your skill as a writer and editor, but more importantly (in my opinion) to amateur journalism. Boxwooder is what every ajay likes to think the hobby is all about – ideally, if only rarely in practice for the ninety-and-nine rest of us. Boxwooders all over the place are probably hauled out by others like me to show to that mildly-curious visitor what hobby printers do if not turn out counterfeit money. Boxwooder is the only journal I’ve had friends ask me to loan them when the next month’s bundle arrives. It’s the only one I know will be in that bundle, and one of the few that I can predict will have contents worthy of the best that amateur journalism can put forward. So congratulations on achieving issue number 100, and doing it in astonishing 100 months!
Marty Miller was the only person outside of NAPA from whom I received a card about the first issue. I have known Marty for something over 20 years from my amateur photography days. I don’t remember why I sent him a copy of the first issue, but likely it was because I had read in the newspaper that he had won another photo prize (he wins so many no one can keep track) and wanted to show him that I was still kicking.
July 28, 1969
Many thanks for placing us on your mailing list. We were delighted to find your Number 1 issue upon our return from our vacation. We look forward to future issues. Number 1 made us a fan.
Warmest regards and best wishes,
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August 20, 1977
Of the horde of publications which come flying through our enlarged mail slot or are deposited on our stoop, The Boxwooder is the one we read from cover to cover. It is an even greater favorite than when Issue Number One arrived. Through 100 issues you have intrigued and enlightened us. Thanks to you, we know the hazards of the stock market. poker, and 100 mile bike rides; the blessings and characteristics of wine, romance, childhood, and the raising of children, and much more. Possibly most of all, we enjoy being able to count on a regular visit with you, one which always brings us pleasure.
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I’m sure you agree that in these last six pages there must be enough strokes and egoboo for at least 100 more issues.
Hand set in Deepdene. Display types are Gravure and 120-point Franklin Gothic Condensed. Paper is unknown but exceptionally easy to print and does not emphasize differential type wear. Edited and published by Jake Warner and 500 copies printed by him on a 10×15 C&P at the Boxwood Press, Greenbelt, Maryland 20770.
I should not leave the impression that I’m organized enough to have deliberately saved from 1969 the comments on issue 1. They turned up in a dresser drawer as I was searching for something in my random access file about three years ago, and at that time I carefully put them away against this day.