There are two methods of writing an issue introduction. The first goes something like this: you begin with an old envelope. You take this envelope and walk around and wait for something to happen, and when something does you jot down a few notes on the back of the paper. You want an anecdote both clever and brief, a bright little story to manage the impossible task of anchoring the issue. When your notes are complete, place them someplace dark–a trouser pocket will do. Now wait. Wait until a season passes, or a world event boils up and cooks down and simmers away and is forgotten. Make sure your notes are still in your pocket, and proceed until you find a river, or a lake, or a large bathtub into which you can leap. Submerge yourself, and wait some more. Soon the words on the folded paper in your pocket will dissolve and lift and float to the surface, and when they do you can skim off the letters and hang them to dry and arrange them all in orderly, meaningful rows. You may consider doing this for a while, but you won’t. In practice, it is much easier to look the other way as the words drift into the reeds and are eaten by the ducks.
This leaves the second method. The second method requires waiting until the last possible moment and then asking Carolyn what she thinks. Well, she says, this issue is all about water. Also sex and war, but mostly water. Right, you reply, as you try to remember if anything interesting has happened since the last issue. Much has, but nothing you care to mention. Certainly nothing about water. And then someone walks into the room and says: It’s time to go. You answer: Just one more minute. I’ve almost got this. I’m nearly there. And then you write something, anything, because it’s time to go. You write: After a long winter’s nap, we awake to a new and lovely issue, number 22.