Thursday, 1 December 2011

The End of the Line?

   Spoken/Written is in real financial difficulty. With so little money coming in, it hardly makes sense to spend the time putting it together which could be spent trying to work in other ways. For the sake of those who have paid, Spoken/Written will probably carry on until around next Easter. But after that – if it continues at all, it will be a reduced version. If Spoken/Written continues, it will just have to feature more news about the Collective – the arts network which hosts it – in order to have a reason to be. and to evolve as one of its early models – the Spiel Unlimited newsletter – evolved.
   My initial impulse, years ago as Editor was to run Spoken/Written Bulletin S.W. – as it was funded by the Arts Council through tortuous grant applications until July of last year – as some sort of Public Service Information station. Anonymously – I thought it would be somehow a trifle tacky to tell people it was actually edited by a poet, writer, performer and proof reader, themselves on the look out for gigs and freelance work. I imagined this to be somewhat self-serving and tawdry, so it was issued as if by magic like an automated system, with the aim of benefiting as many people interested in words as possible. After much nagging from people who were surprised to discover that I edited it, or that I still had the illusion that it was like the BBC, I gave in and started writing Editorials. At first with the idea of communicating things of interest which I had found out in the course of putting an Edition together. I suppose I thought people would feel gratitude for or desire to help something or someone so disinterested and virtuous (!). I have always suffered from too much C18th/19th century novel reading. (Whom did I think I was? Monsieur du Pont from The Mysteries of Udolpho?!)
   But I have learned a lot since then. That unless you ask for aid, no one will give you it. That people think that because something ought to be funded, that means that morally it must be in some meta-sphere, and hence no one need bother. That generating goodwill is about more than providing a service, even if people say they value it. In fact that that it is often about selling yourself and your lifestory or quirks as a 'brand' (something that I at least find hard as the words 'brook, spirit and bear' spring to mind - although if I could grit my teeth, I suppose I ought). And 'getting your name out there'. Something that people can feel a 'personal loyalty' towards.
   Finally, as Spoken/Written earned so little this month and has had no feedback for months, I must assume that some things also run their course. That, for a mixture of reasons, the main one of which is probably technology, that it is no longer as needed or as useful to folks as once it was. I have also learned that some kinds of idealism are just plain dumb, and that if no one understands what you’re doing or why, then you won’t get any credit for it and so really should not expect any. I guess I am just feeling 'disenchanted'. But then working on something for six years, founding it, nurturing it, getting a feeling of worth from it, and then looking at it coming to an end was never going to be easy. I've learnt a lot, got better at admin, got published in an anthology and a few zines, including my all time favourite, 20x20 Magazine, and been offered the odd gig, all as a result of Spoken/Written. I've also gained some much appreciated freelance editing work and grants consultancies. Three Arts Council grants (though stretched too far and perfectly reasonable pay has been drawn out to pittance). And a lot of experience in research, 'the scene', how internet searches work (invaluable) and all kinds of work skills and confidences arising out of them. It's been a ride. And perhaps most of all, I've had some very kind praise from subscribers and donations from those willing to dig into their pockets to support something they considered worthwhile - a zine which I created. And that has been very moving. I just wish I could have (as it's a remote-working job done almost all via e-mail) met more of those lovely folks in person. Well, I guess Spoken/Written says 'Thanks for the fish' guys. Take care and good night. 

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