But Look At What We've Done. . .


   Whenever I think about quitting THE RAVEN: Northwest Minnesota's Original Art, History & Humor Journal (theravenjourna.com) - - (and it's frequency has increased as I age)- - I have but to look through our old issue collection and stop at The Larson Brothers issue, and realize that if not for THE RAVEN, I would never have met those amazing Larson brothers, learned about their remarkable family, embarked on a friendship with Orlin Ostby and his circle of friends and family (including Tom from Jamestown, ND, 'a Charlie Daniels look-a-like,') met a Holstein ox named Pum, nor did a bunch of other wonderful things all in the name of story writing.
   Having a self-published vehicle in which to put my stories, illustrations, and digital images, as well as those of my friend Joe (The Blogings Of Chairman Joe) in the format of THE RAVEN, affected my life in ways I never imagined.
   Because we started THE RAVEN out as a joke, I never gave it a thought that we would be read by thousands of people (or any), nor aside from friends and family, anyone would want to subscribe to THE RAVEN, nor would pay us compliment by comparing some of our content to Prairie Home Companion.
   I had no idea a college president would be so entertained by a 7th-grade humor story ("Road Trip To Tuff Rubber Balls") that he'd invite Joe and me to lunch at the college and give us the grand tour, nor did I ever guess he'd fit his six-foot-three-inch frame in the front seat of my 1986 Toyota 4x4 truck when his own truck wouldn't start. Hoohah!
   After floundering somewhat after a divorce, I became reacquainted with (and married eight years later) a college art class romance, who, by coincidence, had utilized her art abilities for the previous eleven years as a graphic artist at a local newspaper. Sharing her graphic expertise with THE RAVEN greatly improved my rudimentary layouts and THE RAVEN blossomed under her green thumbs.
   I never gave it a thought that we'd publish our work - -and those of many other writers and illustrators- - for twenty years. From its crude beginnings on a copy machine to publication on a state-of-the-art digital color printer, we've accomplished great things in a small way, even while starting out at such odds after a few well-received issues: I wanted to expand on it. Joe wanted to keep a lid on it.  I wanted to grow it. Joe wanted it to stay small. It was always this way, so we were always broke, and never made a dime on our efforts not having good management behind us. We were writers, not salesmen; artists, not accountants. Fortunately, many years later, we followed someone's advice and formed a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization to access arts grants to support our future endeavors.
   Thanks to the Northwestern Minnesota Arts Council and the Minnesota Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund Legacy Grants, we're able to continue offering the world, I guess, something else to read other than: ". . . daily news briefs, cereal boxes, dismal financial reports, place mats, Guaranteed Student Loan Promissory Note and Repayment Obligation Schedules, and Safe Handling instructions of various raw meat products.”

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