Week 3: commissioning and helping

Things really feel like they are moving now. True, my Moo Cards still haven’t arrived (they’ve re-sent them apparently, don’t worry – I’ll let you know), I more or less took today off, and all the uncharacteristic sitting still is giving me backache, but look what I’ve got done!

  • Began plans on the paper. I have had another couple of chats with Russell (hereafter, “the Publisher”), decided on a title and general format, and have received some great masthead designs by a good creative friend who often helps me out on these kinds of things.
  • Started commissioning articles and stuff. I’ve emailed loads of people, many of whom have said “yes”, some of whom have said “YES!” – and I have many more people to email still. It’s already shaping up very nicely.
  • Received a VHS recorder, via a twitter appeal! Which means one of my plans for the Playful presentation may yet take flight.
  • Had an article I wrote on gamebooks and stuff published here this morning. Nice retweeting and stuff doing the rounds about it today, especially heartening as it’s the section editor’s first commission for the site. The full unedited version is over on my non-work blog.
  • Booked some of the best guests I can imagine for the upcoming months on SRS. People sometimes ask where we get our guests from, but I promise we’re not doing anything special. A lot of it is just about having the balls to ask.
  • May have my first ‘client’ for a production project.

But I know what you want, what you really really want. You really really want to hear about my work lessons of the week-a-zig-aaah.

1. Helping people is brilliant. I went on about this in last week’s notes, I know, but this week I’ve actually done quite a lot of it, and it’s lovely. I spend an awful lot of time asking people to do things for free for me, because I’m lucky enough to know some extremely talented types. But I never really understood what I can do for them in return, so it’s always tainted with that “I might be able to get you coverage” or “It might make money one day” uncertainty. But it turns out I do have my uses. My creative friend who has been working up design ideas for the paper for me asked me for some fashion/retail advice this week and I really enjoyed writing him a big email about the trends and colours and stuff. So great to finally channel all that inane hobby-knowledge into something someone else might find useful. Similar things with a couple of other people this week. I want to do that more.

2. Worrying other people will be jealous probably means you’re having a great time. This week on the show we interviewed someone I remember very well off the telly, when I was growing up. I think people pick up on our excitement, and I see the ideas from SRS percolating into other podcasts and projects sometimes and that’s very flattering. It’s ridiculously exciting for me that I get to hang out with my childhood – and adulthood – heroes every week, why wouldn’t it be? And now I’m ALSO making the publication I’ve been trying to make since I first got interested in the stuff when I was a teenager, I feel ludicrously fortunate that things have turned out this way, and I want to tell everyone. But I tell no one. Because I am lucky – luckier than most – and you do have to account for the feelings of your audience who might not have such good fortune.

3. People want me to produce them. Not all people, but I read something approaching a radio pitch this week, and in a separate incident, was invited to produce another new internet radio project, should it go ahead. Someone excellent whom I accidentally failed to approach about the paper has spontaneously approached me with some ideas. And someone even said, “I thought if I ever made a newspaper, you’d be a good person to work on it with.” It’s encouraging.

4. Take time out. Today was a write-off in various ways; I didn’t go to the office, leaving poor Phil alone in a big echoey empty room, I didn’t have any battery power on any of my devices, and I didn’t really do any work. But aimless wandering led me to a lovely exhibition about inventions at the British Library, where I also learned of the existence of this.

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