April 11, 2012
As I sit down and craft the book proposal, I find myself in the strangest space. At once I am selling myself, who I was, who I am, who I will become—all of this with words and photographs. I peruse my archives, doing something I rarely do—looking for signifiers of my life that mean something to other people.
There was a time when I was a part of the media, working with editors and writers to craft original content. Looking back, it seems this was a golden age, a time when print had become almost decadent. It was a time of die-cut covers at Flaunt and pull out mini-magazines in Vice. It was a time when you could make tens of thousands of dollars syndicating an excerpt around the globe. It was a time when people published glossy start up magazines out of their house.
There was a sense of luxury, of the richness that only paper can provide. There was the smell of fresh ink on paper and lavish full bleeds and beautifully constructed spreads with elegant fonts. There were writers who defined their magazines, whose very voice made it the thing to read. There were photographers who defined their magazines, whose very eye made it the thing to breathe. There were art directors who aesthetic was so influential, it came to carry over into books. There was a way of seeing that doesn’t exist as it once did—it was a time when magazines ruled the world.
I have always loved magazines because you can tear them apart. You can cut and rip and shred and tape and hang and push pin these glossy images to your walls. You can find words and images and ideas that fill your life with vibes. This is what my blog has become for me—only it’s not quite the same because it has no sensory dimension beyond sight.
I can’t put my hands on it. All I can do is cut and paste and double click and type. And while this allows me to be prolific, as well as to treat everything as disposable, it also devalues content at the same time. It’s wonderful and weird that everything could disappear as quickly as it arrived. That was the way we used to look at paper, newsprint being the very essence of that vibe.
But magazines have something no other medium holds—they are at once energies of the zeitgeist and they are also time capsules of our lives. They bring together, under one cover, the spirit and the mind of its editor, envisioning a world and a feeling that is created by the community of readers, or shall we say believers.
I know, because I have been one. A believer. True that. My first church was Interview, back in the 80s before Ingrid Sischy arrived. I used to tear out pages of the magazine and hang them in checkerboard fashion on my walls. And I made no distinction between advertisement and editorial because both were brilliantly executed.
In fact, I just got into a conversation about branding with a friend. He was of the mind that the ubiquitous move toward self-branding was a bad thing. But I hold the position that it is neither good nor bad—it is a reflection of the times in which we live, a time when marketing has become part of the dominant discourse. And, having unintentionally worked in marketing since 1998, (yea, funny, it was unintentional and yet it was so right), I take no issue with the need for business to communicate with its public, because if there is no message, really, what is the point?
Marketing is the Gospel of Capitalism and we are its sheep. And people take such issue with sheep but it’s really not a choice so much as a given. We can either participate or resist, but no longer—short of moving to a land before technology—can we avoid its reach. We are all part of the conversation, and perhaps the only question is, Do you have something to speak?
Which brings me back to the book proposal. I have to figure out how to speak Marketease. I used to speak this language all the time, but language—like all living things—evolves. And as it evolves, so do I. And no longer do I wish to rely on the old model, because the old model collapsed right quick. And, add to that, when your work is all you have, you become much more conscientious of the need for clarity.
So here I am and here I have been, thinking about Miss Rosen sans Editions. I look back on the pages I have created, the stories I have told, the understanding I had about my mission then—and the knowledge that I do not yet know. The other day I said to Mr. Brown that for me, being a writer is not being an author. To write has become a way of living, of loving, of growing, of overcoming, of going beyond anything I thought I knew. I write for myself. And were I not a showgirl, then I would be happy keeping it all to myself.
But a showgirl is happiest with an audience. With the flow of energy between bodies and spirits and hearts and minds. I love creating a brand new space that exists between me and someone else. I love to discover. To go beyond all limitations and challenge myself with the unknown. And what I now realize is that I don’t know… my audience. Who loves books as I love books? What are books to them? I mean, to me, books are mystical objects, being physical and spiritual at the same time. The more I consider books, the more reverence I feel. And I am curious to discover how books appear in other people’s worlds.
Because… being an author is a job. And I haven’t had a job in a year, which feels wonderful and strange and does not quite make sense. To return to work, with a new perspective, is one way I can regain my sense of self. And as I am creating this job as I go, one of the first things I am doing is connecting to people with people who have inspired me over the years. To ask questions and listen to answers. To consider than a reader isn’t a customer, but a potential connection in my life/and I in theirs. And that makes me smile. Cause I really love people. They are magical ..
I believe in magic. Strange and wonderful things happen all the time. And the more I embrace Wu Wei, the simpler everything is. I realized the best way to learn about books was to ask people I admire. I put together a questionnaire about books, and about Miss Rosen as a brand. Because my job as an author isn’t about hustling I * Me * Mine, it is about understanding and respecting the space where my public self connects with someone else’s mind.
And in that space, there exists an Ideal, and that’s the fascinating thing about Reputation. You can’t control it—it is held in the mind of the Other. But you can influence it, by infusing it with energy and spirit and practice of good work. I am not Miss Rosen, or Sara, but both of these labels—when happy and healthy—can serve my purpose, which is to share what I am learning.
…and this is the beginning of me defining my brand.