In my day job life, one of the things you’re encouraged to do is identify skillsets you want to develop or information you feel you need to learn, then you look out for courses or workshops for these and apply for funding to attend these. (Approval for that is getting thin on the ground as economic times get tougher.) Makes sense though to constantly be upskilling and expanding your knowledge, especially as you tend to get moved around a lot and can end up in areas not quite playing to your original expertise. It’s actually considered to be unhelpful for promotion if you haven’t done some education and personal development.
With Twelfth Planet Press, I’ve been looking for mentors for several years to offer guidance and advice to navigate me. (I’m very envious of the multitude of courses and workshops offered to writers to hone their skills. There’s so little, as none, available that I’ve seen for publishers.) It’s been quite hard to find appropriate mentors – small press is a small crowd, people move on and the industry is in high flux. I’ve been very lucky to find the mentors I have done and they have been invaluable to me. But I definitely struggle to find advice for both the publishing side of the business and also for the publishing business side of things. These don’t really have much to do with learning about quality writing, networking, editing or production. And I don’t really have the time to suddenly switch out and do an MBA for my small business on the side just so I can learn about accounting and business development. Of course… how else do you learn these kinds of things? And if you don’t learn them, how can you do them successfully?
At World Fantasy Con I was really fortunate to be able to spend quality time with a lot of different people talking about, and getting advice on, publishing and small press. Because my big question is, how do you take a small press and grow it into a viable bigger one? There are examples of small presses that have done this. How you do it in the current environment is probably a different question altogether. It was a bit of a theme for me at this convention and I had some really stimulating conversations about it. I came away quite depressed, to be honest, but not because it can’t be done.
This year for me personally has involved a lot of personal development. There’s been a lot of non fiction reading, a lot of online courses I’ve signed up for and a lot of interesting podcasts I’ve been subscribing to. I feel like there has been a lot of thinking and mulling over and assimilating of information in my head this year and it’s been brewing for a while so that I’ve been unable to write about it as I’ve been doing it because I’m not at the end of the process yet.
Recently, I’ve been reading Tribal Leadership – the title perhaps sounds more nefarious than it actually is. It’s been a really interesting read in terms of looking at teams or groups of people and why they work or they don’t work. And it’s led to a whole heap of understanding about me, my values and Twelfth Planet Press and the people associated with it.
What I’ve come to understand is that often you get a bad feeling about a person or a situation that you can’t really verbalise. Or you get stuck in a situation (for me this is often a work situation) where you get depressed and begin to hate going or hate yourself and you can’t quite figure out why. And that what’s going on is you are doing something that doesn’t align with your personal values.
I wanted to start putting in place some of the things I’m reading about in this book – I think TPP definitely operates by a set of core values. I’ve realised that this is what people mean when they say something is or is not a TPP book (something that stuck out for me when slush readers read my novel manuscript submissions and when writers submit work saying “I think this is a TPP work” and it totally is). It’s not just a “branding” thing. It’s not a particular sub genre thing. It’s something else entirely. Up til now, I think that the navigation has been gut feel. And that’s not necessarily wrong. It’s just unstructured
So I signed up for a 21 day leadership course with Culture Sync which I found via the website affiliated with the book. Yes, I don’t technically have 21 days before my wedding etc but I’m up to day 5 and so far its been really enlightening. I’m really enjoying it – it’s at times confronting and really interesting to realise “oh hey, that’s fundamentally important to who I am”. I’m really excited by the idea of knowing in words what your core values are and being cool about making yes or no decisions about other things based on something being a value of yours or not. It suddenly makes me feel less guilty about all the good pieces of fiction I’ve rejected that didn’t “feel like they were TPP”. It’s a sudden way of categorising things into something other than “good or bad”. Something can still be good but just not fit with what we are doing, because it is doing something else entirely. And it’s also really exciting to know you are doing a particular thing; that you are working on a whole that will be greater than the sum of its parts and that is moving in a particular direction.
The most important realisation I’ve had so far is that what got me down in the discussions I was having at WFC relates to something being very much in conflict with my core values. That I don’t have to try and be X (especially when I don’t want to) because that is not what we, TPP, are. And that’s totally ok. It suddenly lifted a weight off my shoulders. And to be fair, this realisation is not anything different to what several of my close friends were saying to me at the con itself as I was experiencing it in real time. But you know that thing where hearing something is very different to feeling it or really knowing it yourself? Yeah, well it took me a month longer than everyone else but I get it now. And everything is gonna be ok
Today’s tea: Camomile- T2 Star Rating: 5 out of 5
Today’s craft project: Ravi Cardigan in Aubergenius by Blue Moon Fibre Arts