The Birth of Cat on a Leash Review

In just a few short days, Diane D. Gillette and I will be publishing Issue II of Cat on a Leash Review, the digital literary magazine that we co-founded last June. I can't even fathom how proud I am of this publication and the many talented writers in it. What started as Diane's pipe dream grew into a real magazine that both of us adore.

Two years ago, I was hunting for a part-time job while I finished up my undergraduate degree at DePaul University. After weeks of surfing through Craigslist, I happened upon something that was not a job, but an ad for a writing group called Chicago Literary Writers. The ad stated that a group of writers focused on workshopping each other's literary fiction was seeking an additional member. I dug up my best short story and sent it for their review. Despite being a newbie writer, I was accepted, which led me to meet the group's members. Diane was the member who posted the ad.

From there, I became a semi-active member of the group and discovered that Diane happened to live on my block. We started traveling to and from writing group together and had some interesting talks along the way. One of the things we discussed was Diane's desire to start a literary magazine. I told her we should do it together.

The topic was shelved until a couple of weeks later when Diane and I attended a summer fest. It was sweltering outside and I didn't have AC. So after the fest, I went to Diane's place to enjoy her condo's cool air and endless supply of La Croix. While our sweat dried, I told Diane about how someone had recently given me a leash for my cat, Nomar. So I tried to take him for a walk, inevitably drawing a lot of attention from passersby.

"We should call the magazine Cat on a Leash," said Diane.

I responded with a small shriek of excitement.

At that moment, I'd had the exact same thought, so there was no need for extended discussion on that front. We titled our magazine Cat on a Leash Review and set to work. Our main goal was to create a platform for literary fiction from writers that have skill, but don't necessarily have a degree or prior publications. We also really wanted diverse stories from marginalized voices. We agreed on how important it is to let these voices be heard. From there, our big ideas turned into a real literary magazine.

As I stand at the precipice of our second publication of COLR, I can't help but consider how many coincidences and happenstances led us here. What would life be like if I'd never seen that Craigslist ad or if we'd never gone to that summer fest or if I'd never walked my cat on a leash? I can't say for sure, but I'd hazard that our lives wouldn't be quite so bright. I look forward to publishing many more issues of COLR and I hope that everyone enjoys Issue II as much as we enjoyed editing it!