By Dawn M. Sanders
I was folding and putting away clean clothes the other day in my bedroom when, the penny dropped and it hit me – man, what am I doing wasting my time, because that’s definitely what it feels like!
Lately as a freelance journalist, I’ve been thinking how sick and tired I am of writing pitches for editors for either written articles that have never seen the light of day from my portfolio page on my website, to original ideas that I could turn my hand to and create compelling articles, yet, after a year and a half, I’m losing patience with putting my hand out to thin air or barely acknowledged rejections and of course, not getting any younger…
Back in 2013/14 when my first business failed and I sat curled up on my sofa for 6 months thinking ‘what am I gonna do now’ – I knew I had always wanted to start Barriers to Bridges Magazine, which is why I went and got onto the journalism master’s degree course at Sheffield Hallam. The original idea was for the magazine to be an arm of my advocacy business which, as a social enterprise, just didn’t stand a chance .
Being the bull-in-the-china shop, I didn’t have a clue how I was going to fund my course at Hallam at the time, still long term unemployed during the years between my first degree and master’s as a single parent, but I got on the course and started it nonetheless.
So the latest epiphany, standing there putting a jumper onto a hanger, half looking at the soft, dull autumnal light from outside I thought: it’s time! It’s time to take the leap I imagined 7 years ago and just start the magazine which, would be for and about marginalised and disenfranchised groups and communities. It would address: people of no fixed abode; people with additional needs; refugees, single parents (predominantly mums) poor/working-class communities or anyone facing societal, cultural and economic barriers – so my mind was suddenly racing ahead and I almost lost track of what I was doing. It would of course be ‘alternative media’ edgy/intelligent, progressive with a big P and push boundaries – tapping into no-go areas. That has been and still is, my vision for my journalism.
Writing pitches, however passionate and enthusiastic I am about an idea or want to sell an existing article after getting a distinction on my portfolio, has become such a chore and just a real drag – to the point I’m losing the will to do it. I’m not one for hanging around for too long, not when I’ve spent years and years trying trying and trying again – all it does is fan the flames of depression and despair – rendering me incapable of ‘doing anything’.
So as I enter the second trimester of my fifth decade, at least this coming year with all the uncertainties we now live under; demons dancing in every shadow like hungry vampires coming to suck the life from desperate souls; scarecrows around every corner and clouds of tyranny threatening the horizon of humanity’s future – I’ll just have to plod on. I’ll start to put feelers out for like-minded would-be hopefuls to collaborate with. I need someone with more of a business head: in doing my journalism course, they didn’t talk about advertising and how it works with including particularly ethical adds in between the pages of a mag, revenues etc . The logistics of managing the overheads, well yet another learning curve. I would of course have to launch a campaign and ongoing drive for contributors but, I don’t mind drumming my energy into something that is likely to eventually yield fruit and take my journalism to a new dynamic. What I can’t keep doing is pissing-in-the-wind for lack of a better phrase when forever trying to woo the likes of arrogant editors who, can’t be bothered to spare a charitable, ‘no thank you’… How soul destroying is that? Oh of course I would always put out an idea or attempt to break the ice, but not without having more control over my own creativity or the flow of my output.
In applying for that course last week – intro to teaching further education at Exeter College, as a means of an eventual steady income for teaching national/international politics, political education or, a progressive brand of equality awareness – I figure a 12 week course will give me the opportunity to make good local connections and get a head start with it all. What I don’t want to do, is spend the rest of what working life I’ve got left waylaid within the padded cell or confines of academia, I could learn while I earn, but I’d rather learn first-hand, through the University of Life. Gathering content for Barriers to Bridges Magazine would mean getting content from homeless people on the street, a single mum stuck at home with the kids in poverty, figuring out how she’ll afford the school uniform for the next year or the ostracised guy caught in a web of isolation, too beaten back and afraid of the world to test his mental resolve any further – I’ve been all these places…