Maybe what you need next is a surprise.
I am not great at chit-chat at the best of times, but I’m most challenged when someone asks me “What do you do?” By which they mean for paid work, because wealth-generating labor is the only labor that counts and the point of chit-chat is to figure out what someone can do for you and therefore how nice you should be. (Anything else is conversation, not chit-chat, and conversation is great.)
Whew, that was developing a tone. What I mean is: when people ask “What do you do?” and I say, “I edit a magazine,” the next question is always, always the same: “What’s it about?” The question I answer is never the one they asked.
“What’s it about?” It’s… not? Or, it depends? I guess I could say “it’s a general interest magazine,” but that sounds boring and doesn’t get at what’s important and exciting and new about Pipe Wrench: not what it’s about, but how it comes about. It’s about collaboration (me with Catherine, us with contributors, contributors with one another). Fairness (in workloads, in who gets published, in pay, in policies). Trust (contributors in us, us in them, us in you). And it’s about conversation (us with you, contributors with one another, contributors with you, you with each other). It’s about building a new model, not any one subject.
We hope (think) it creates a great new experience for readers, but we also hope (think) that it serves creators as much as the audience. Because the driving force behind each issue is a set of contributors who are finding new confidence, new audiences, new ideas, and new relationships that they can then bring to the rest of their work, and to all of us:
- It truly was a wonderful collaborative experience and I learned something new!
- As I read through the whole issue and watched it bounce around Twitter I’d follow the other writers and meet new people… while I didn’t know it when I was writing, it meant a lot to me to be part of something new— not just for my personal confidence but for how I want things to be in the world.
- Reading the mag cover to cover refueled me. I felt heard and known and part of a community.
So what’s it about? I can’t tell you what topic every issue will focus on, which is what the “What is it about?” question is usually asking, but I can tell you what that whole project is about. It’s about relationships, and connections, and reimagining what a magazine is, and being better together. It starts with our contributors, and it extends to all of you.
That was really just 400 words to say: THINK OF BETTER CHIT-CHAT QUESTIONS but also Y’ALL, THE CONCEPT IS TOTALLY WORKING, THANKS FOR GETTING ON THIS BUS WITH US.
The Week in Pipe Wrench.
- Issue Two! It happened! It’s live! It’s great!
- Longreads, Longform, and The Sunday Long Read recommended Issue Two’s core story, Shanna B. Tiayon’s “If You Can Soar.”We’re thrilled.
- Roxane Gay and Ann Friedman recommended Deesha Philyaw’s conversation piece, “Snap,”in their newsletters. We’re thrilled anew.
- #BirdTwitter are big fans of Rosemary Mosco’s illustrated conversation piece, “What Is a City Pigeon?” Michelle and Catherine learned never to underestimate the enthusiasm of birders and are, yes, still thrilled.
And because we told you we’d remind you: Michelle and Catherine’s two-woman show visited the Creative Nonfiction Podcast last week, and Breai Mason-Campbell of Issue One’s “Seeing in the Dark” had a great conversation on the No Pix After Dark podcast.
Before you go.
Michelle really wanted you to know that in her brain, having a story highlighted by Longreads, Longform, and The Sunday Long Read in the same week is called “getting the wordy motherfucker trifecta.”