It's been eight months since I wrote about starting a magazine - an incredible eight months of fun, struggle, and, above all, connection - and so I thought it was time to write again. As I sit to blog today, Be For Change has launched an introductory issue in Summer (grab a free copy here) (oops! We've run out of print copies!!! email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to request a PDF) and our Issue 001 is going out in a couple of days (you can pre-order your copy now)!
As many a good journey, this one did not go as expected. I had plenty of ideas to start with, and I thought I had a clear vision of where I was going. But it didn't take long before I was scrambling for answers to questions I had forgotten to consider. Right at that time, my idea of what would become One Aware magazine started being shaped by the input of others - and I am a bit embarrassed to admit that I struggled with that. I hadn't expected to make it all happen by myself, but I am usually a bit of a lone wolf when it comes to my work. More than that, if eight months ago you had told me how comfortable I would be today relying on others for help, I would have raised an eyebrow (maybe even two). But here I am.
Nowadays I am incredibly happy about the small family that has gathered around One Aware. These are the people who act as a sounding board for ideas in their lunch breaks, call me when I send a sad text about something that went wrong, spell check the articles when they get home after work. Not a single person who helped bring this magazine to life works in publication, or for Be For Change; nope, everyone is elsewhere employed and worked on One Aware in their spare time. They deserve a big round of applause! (oh wait, this ain't a speech... Can you give them some love in the comments?).
These are not the only relationships which have resulted in the amazing feeling of connection I mentioned earlier. It might seem weird, but I feel like I am now connected with everyone who has put work forward to this publication. I get to read each story and see all artwork submissions as they come through our inbox. Most of the time, I open the company's email only to find there is nothing new, but in some awesome days there is an email or two titled 'Submission' - and I practically jump, and get wide grin in my face. It is honestly a privilege to see what our audience submits, even if not all work makes it to print. You are such a diverse bunch, pursuing so many different things in life! I do hope that the magazine does you justice, and I hope that you feel as inspired reading it as I feel when I first open those emails. By the way, I love replying to your emails, asking further questions about what you do and getting more details to edit into your texts. It is my absolute favourite thing when our contributors react to finding out that their work is going into One Aware! (Maybe for the next issue I'll ask to share a few of those emails, because you guys/girls have had some pretty awesome things to say!) (This is yet another reason why we'll keep working with artists and writers who are still establishing their names :)
As I wrote before, there have been plenty of struggles too. And the worst part is that it's usually me who inadvertently created whatever difficult situations. From failing to communicate what I needed and getting frustrated when people delivered the 'wrong' things, to failing in time management and getting stressed as deadlines fail again and again.
There's truly less than a handful of people bringing One Aware to life, and most of the time it's really just two people: Sam (the graphic designer who does more than fits his job description) and me. We ideate, execute and push each other through all the big tasks and menial ones too. With an increasing amount of work for each issue, it feels increasingly hard not being able to pay my One Aware fam for all that they contribute. It is our hope that we've proved the value of this independent publication with this issue, that sales will follow and we'll be able to secure a few sponsors for the Spring issue. I would be living in a dream if by then the magazine was financially viable, with enough money to pay contributors and for a small space where we can all work together without being in the way of our flatmates.
Other challenges anyone in our generation might face, namely the struggle to print sustainably and at a decent price. It is honestly ridiculous that sustainable printing and paper aren't the norm yet - but once again, we have the power to cast a vote with our money. And so we did, even though it means spending more money and the magazine being more expensive (fact: we'll need to sell a lot just to break even, so if you can contribute and purchase with purpose, that would be hugely appreciated!) A couple of years back I would have turned in a different direction; but not now. I am learning with my mistakes and doing my best to get One Aware off the ground, because I really believe in the importance of putting in print the thoughts and experiences of our generation.
It is true that for the most part Millennials are a digital generation, but we also value print. We treat our books and magazines with respect, and proudly scatter them around the house. In a world gone largely digital, we still choose to pay more for words and images on paper. We trust in pages we can hold and smell to keep the messages that matter to us, close to us. With print we can borrow and lend and pass onto other people - with a nice handwritten message on the inside cover.