Standing up, standing alone, putting yourself and your thoughts and your visions out there…it’s gotta be one of the hardest things to do in life, doesn’t it.
I think that one of the reasons I worked in hospitality for so long is that I was terrified of attempting to pursue my passions and dreams, in case I failed. I figured that the embarrassment of trying and failing was far greater than the embarrassment of not trying at all.
I thought this was particularly true of having the fanciful, extravagant, unreal dream of becoming a writer. It’s not really one of those dreams where you simply go to university, get a degree, start an internship and eventually work your way up in the company until you obtain the job position of ‘writer’, is it. Hence the reason that I begun a Law degree instead. If you have been following my blog for a while, you are probably all too familiar with how that particular venture turned out. For those of you who are relatively new to this blog, let’s just say it did not end well. To put it mildly.
I went to a high school that was very goal oriented; very concerned with marks and achievements and awards. Don’t get me wrong, it was a fantastic school, but it was very concerned about numbers on paper and maintaining high averages. I did very well there, but somehow that resulted in a feeling of even greater pressure and expectation to succeed. My belief at the time, which I am only slowly getting over now, was that there is no point in trying unless you are going to be the best at it, whatever ‘it’ may be.
This blog has been a fantastic learning curve in terms of getting over that hang-up. As I have read on countless other blogs during my time here on WordPress, sometimes the feedback can obscure the goal. Sometimes the counting ‘likes’ and checking statistics can get in the way of what you really want to achieve on your blog, much like receiving high marks and honours awards was for me in high school.
Sometimes I sit here, typing introductory sentence after introductory sentence, deleting them over and over as I desperately try and figure out how to hook readers into The Paperbook Blog. How tragic is that. And sometimes, in the worst moments, I give up and delete the entire post. Because sometimes I am terrified of feeling like a ‘failure’, if the stats don’t reflect ‘success’.
This morning, I watched an incredible TED talk by Amanda Palmer. It was one of those moments where something clicks in your brain and you think…Right. That’s it. I get it now.
I never put video’s up here on The Paperbook Blog, but I highly recommend that you give this a watch if you have the time. It was quite an amazing coincidence that I stumbled upon it this morning, because it ties in perfectly with my weekend, the zine fair, and The Paperbook Collective.
I asked all of you out there to cross your fingers and toes for me on Sunday, to wish me luck for the fair. I will admit that I was pretty confident going into the event, after the success I had at the Bunbury Zine Fair I thought I would be sold out of The Paperbook Collective in no time. In fact, I was up so late on the Saturday night finishing off more zines that I only managed five hours sleep. I spent the entire of Sunday running off adrenaline and caffeine. And eventually wine.
How did it go? It went fine.
That’s it. Fine. Nothing more, nothing less. It wasn’t a raging success, it wasn’t a huge failure. People came, people browsed, I sold just under half of the zines that I made. But because I have gone out on a limb with the magazine, because I have put myself out there and built up my expectations, I was pretty devastated. Which is completely and utterly ridiculous.
I got home that night in a pit of despair, telling myself that spending all this money to create the zine and attend these fairs is a complete waste, I should be more realistic and just stick to publishing the online version and be done with it. And then, I logged onto my blog and my email. And I read the messages of encouragement and support from all of you out there in the world, contributors and readers alike. I logged in to my Hotmail account and saw that I had a few online orders, and a few emails of support praising Issue Four.
And I realised that despite the fact that this one particular day did not go as well as my overblown expectations had envisioned, the overall dream that is The Paperbook Collective is still in tact. The concept behind this magazine is a connection of creative people across the world, a connection which I believe that we are achieving.
As fellow creative people, whether you are writers, poets, artists, musicians or photographers, I’m sure you have had moments when you believed that your dream was not worth the amount of time you invested into it. I’m sure you have all been questioned, at some point or another, what it is that you actually do for a living or why you are unemployed. I’m sure you have all had those moments of doubt when your corporate friends are heading off to the latest party dressed in the latest clothes, while you curl up on the couch with a second hand book and a bowl of two-minute noodles. I’m sure you feel those twinges of envy when you log onto Facebook to see countless albums of friends travel photos, designed specifically to show you what you’re missing out on.
But what I am slowly realising is that it is the dream itself, and not the resulting success, that means the most. It is the excitement of getting up in the morning with a brand new idea, and spending the rest of the day trying to make it a reality. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it is immensely frustrating. But it is always entertaining.
So onto the next piece of inspiration that I took from Amanda Palmer’s talk this morning. I have made a big decision. A huge one. One that I may regret, but that I am willing to try anyway.
I am taking down the price list for The Paperbook Collective Zines.
I have started an Etsy shop, which you can check out here. (If someone could click on that link for me and check that it works, that would be hugely appreciated).
But here on the blog, I am going to make the payment for the zines by donation only. Basically, YOU can chose what you believe that the zine is worth to you. Think of it as I am sending you a free zine, and you are making a donation to The Paperbook Collective, to keep me up and running. If you could include the price for shipping, that would be hugely appreciated.
This is what Amanda Palmer chose to do with her music, make it freely available to anyone. In return, she asked her fans, as I am asking all of you now, to help her out. Help me out.
Palmer says in her talk that ‘asking makes you vulnerable’, so I am making myself vulnerable. It is an entirely unfamiliar feeling for me. But here goes.
The Paperbook Collective needs your help. It needs your help to keep running, to grow, to be a success. It needs your help to buy paper, and cardboard, and glue sticks. It needs your help to pay for black and white photocopying. It needs your help to save up for a guillotine, and a better long-handled stapler, and new ink cartridges for its printer. It needs your help to realise its dream of being photocopied in colour, and therefore showcasing its wonderful photography and artwork.
If you would like to make a donation to The Paperbook Collective, whether it be 50c or $50.00, visit the page The Paperbook Collective Zine. If you would like a copy of The Paperbook Collective Zine, pop through a donation of any amount, and your postage cost, and complete the form on the page. Words of encouragement and virtual high-fives are always hugely appreciated.
So that’s it folks. That’s where I’m at. I’m doing something that I never do in my life, and that is being vulnerable. I am putting The Paperbook Collective in your hands, and hoping that it continues to be a raging success.
I trust you this much.
– Amanda Palmer.