“Where do you think that comes from?”

Miss the newsletter in email? You can find them here, too! Here’s the newsletter from Tuesday, February 9, 2021.

As Catherine and I were brainstorming what insights to shower you with this week, she suggested talking about fears and doubts. Which immediately supplanted any other ideas (long-term plans, why this project at this time), because hello, let me count the ways I fear and doubt.

To be clear: I am hellaciously excited for Pipe Wrench. I think we’re going to publish unexpected, important, wonderful things. But my sweet spot is as the wizard tucked behind a soundproof introvert curtain. And publishing is in a state of flux. And funding is questionable. And by the way THE WIZARD WAS AN IMPOSTOR THE WHOLE TIME.

So in no particular order, an abbreviated list; I promise they’re only Pipe Wrench-related fears and doubts, because a newsletter can only be so long.

  • Let’s start with one that’s both unimportant and fixable: I fear that no member of A-ha will ever subscribe. You could change that in 30 seconds, Morten. Just saying.
  • Now, a doubt: I don’t doubt that people want to support projects like Pipe Wrench, but wanting and doing are not the same, and that’s true even absent a long-term, economy-crippling global health crisis. I don’t doubt that we’ll publish things worth paying for; I do have doubts that enough people will, whether it’s because they don’t care enough or because they no longer remember why they just opened that browser window or because it costs money they don’t have. “If you love it, pay for it,” yes, but old habits die hard; we’re used to free on the internet.

(Brief pause for me to note that while you read that Jeff Bezos made enough money to fully fund Pipe Wrench for the rest of time, and then to vomit in my own mouth a little.)

  • Here’s the biggest one: I worry about finding the voices we want to support, and I worry about making Pipe Wrench a comfortable home for their work. I’m the only editor who’s all Pipe Wrench all the time — by design, because it’s unpaid work at this point, which I’m not about to ask anyone else to do — and therefore the most visible. I worry about the whiteness of my network and followers leading to overwhelming whiteness in the pitches we get. I worry that I’m not doing the right research or seeking the right connections or soliciting contributors in the right places, and that I’m not doing any of it quickly or well enough.  

Wanting and doing are not the same, and neither are being aware of an issue and fixing that issue. I want us to be better. And so I worry, while I work.

That said, there are also lots of things I’m not worried about. I’m not afraid that we may not actually be able to pull off a magazine. I’m not worried that it won’t be worth reading, or that writers won’t have a great experience with us. We will and they will and maybe it’ll only last until our investment runs out, but it’ll be great right up to that point.

Oh wait, one more worry! I worry that I haven’t configured the pipewrenchmag.com email properly and that people aren’t getting my emails, and that’s why they’re not responding. And because I cannot win, I’m also worried that I have configured it properly, and people are getting my emails fine but choosing not to respond. I am aware that the latter is likelier. I’m working on acceptance and trying to remember that I also fail to answer emails with distressing frequency, even ones (especially ones?) I’m excited to receive.

The week in Pipe Wrench

  • We’ve added a new partner to our masthead. Welcome, Publication to Be Named Later; we are here for your socialist sports fan energy.
  • Sometime in the next day or so, we should reach 100 founding subscribers. If you’re one of them: thank you.
  • We’ve signed two of our spandy new union-blessed contracts with two excellent writers we look forward to sharing with you.

While we build, some watching

If you’re outside the UK and are not actively figuring out how to stream The Great Pottery Throw Down, Michelle thinks you’re making a mistake. It has all the painfully wholesome goodness The Great British Bake Off, but with a punnier title, non-stop ceramic double-entendres, a judge who is routinely moved to weep by pots, and host Siobhán McSweeney, aka the cranky nun from Derry Girls (which you should also watch).

Along with The Investigation, Soraya is into The Kid Detective, about a semi-grizzled-but-still-boyish former child sleuth trying to solve a murder case and reclaim some of his past glory. She says it’s one of the rare contemporary films to perfectly balance mystery, comedy, drama, and trauma. It’s not unlike the little origami roses that feature in the film itself: deceptively simple in its elegance.

(Now guess which one of these two people is our culture editor.)