As you might suspect, there are a lot of late nights at Midnight Breakfast. A few of us have trouble sleeping, or just don’t keep regular hours, or find the quiet, after everyone’s gone to bed, calming and useful for our more creative endeavors. (Or all three.) I’ve been nocturnal for years. Even when I worked in bakeries or bookshops or clothing stores, where shifts often started at 6:30 or 7:00 am and I had to wake up between the hours of 5:00 and 5:45 just to make it to work on time, it was hard to get some shut-eye before midnight. In college, my average bedtime was 4:30 in the morning, and I wish I could say it was because I was a party monster or diligent student, but half the time, I was up writing or dicking around on the internet or just hanging out alone in my dorm room, playing online Scrabble, trying to get my user rating above 1,000 (took three years of hard work, but it finally happened).
Nowadays, I spend a lot of that late-night energy thinking about the magazine. What would improve it even more? Is there an editorial note I forgot to give that would benefit a piece? How can we be better literary citizens? And then there are other, more layered and nuanced questions that I find myself pondering, like the one I’m often asked: what makes for a quintessential Midnight Breakfast piece? This is essentially a question of identity, an investigation of role. What makes you you?
When Nevan, Taylor, and I set out to create the magazine, we had a very basic tenet we wanted to follow: to produce work that got people talking. From the beginning, we’ve wanted each story, essay, and interview we publish to feel tangible—to feel like you could cup your fingers around it, or roll it around in your mouth, or let it hum for a bit in your ears. We’ve wanted our readers to feel like they’ve spent some time with our writers and artists, like they’ve gone on a journey with them, however brief or extensive. It’s a fancy answer to a question we continue to chase. And that’s another thing: roles shift. I personally feel the same way about Midnight Breakfast as I do about the practice of writing: it’s an evolutionary process. We’re still growing. We’re still finding out who we are. And that’s okay. No one ever said things had to be set in stone. Identities are shaken up all the time, and art might be the most indefinable, malleable species there is.
Issue Four is an ode to identity. From questions of masculinity and mental illness, to representations of people of color; from what it means to be a woman navigating domains of misogyny, to how one walks on this earth and simply breathes, each of the pieces in this issue explore who we are and how we change, for better or worse, as our world morphs alongside us. I hope this issue jostles and moves you, causes your heart to swell and your temperature to rise. I hope all these things, because these are the things that make us us.