Monday, November 29, 2004

Marketing Schmarketing

One day long long time ago a badly paid princess toiled in an underfunded arts organisation where she was expected to sweep out the filing cabinets, open the mail, process orders and do the marketing with no budget what so ever.

The organisation was also dependent on volunteer undermaids to keep the place going. One day a letter came from Switzerland from a woman asking to come and spend time at the organisation and improve her English. As was the policy I sorry the princess wrote back immediately (though probably via surface mail as it was cheaper) saying ‘come’. Some months later Elizabet arrived.* After a few weeks of observing the haphazard slightly desperate measures employed in marketing the organisation Elizabet drew the Princess aside and asked err how she’d got the job and erhum what qualifications she’d go. She was most perplexed to discover that in the UK one could get jobs without being trained for them. One could also get jobs without really being paid for them either… anyway Elizabet picked herself off the floor and as she had worked for several major Swiss publishing firms tried to inculcate the rudiments of marketing. One of the most startling facts which has stuck in my head as if branded there is this. The average return on a direct mail leaflet is less than 1%. That is you are lucky to get one response in 100. Phew! I felt less of a failure from that time when I sent out 1500 leaflets advertising our plays and got two orders back then… All to the good so began to realise how much hard work marketing is. One friend does high level networking change meetings in the disability field – will send out 100 + letters about a seminar to a highly highly select target group and will be lucky to get 20.

Now I’ve accepted that marketing is hard. I work backwards how many of x would I like to sell? Eg if I have to fill 12 places on a course I need to cart about the minimum of 1200 leaflets and place them in likely places or even unlikely places. I’ve had dreams of advertising or even word of mouth/internet taking away the hard graft but sadly it doesn’t work.

* Of course her English was perfect.

Sunday, November 28, 2004


a fabulous find and an example of the joys of the internet. Lost myself in a while imagining knitting up some 'Now Voyager' inspired 1940's knits.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

The Wandering Moleskine Project

Moleskine notebooks are being sent out into the world and the writers/artists who use them are sending back scans. I signed up for the 1000 Jounals Project last year but my journal went missing in creative action... hope the same doesn't happen to the Moleskine.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Poets & Writers Magazine

Has a free email to notify writers of deadlines for competitions, burseries etc. Also interesting interviews and articles on the online version of the mag.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Sustainable Creativity

I'm prompted by two postings one at Michael Nobbs and another at Pomegrantes & Paper

So my challenge to all of you this week is to start thinking about sustainable creativity. Many of you don't need this challenge; you have it down pat and your blogs and journals glow with sketches and scarves and poems and prose. Many of us, however, need to focus on what we can do instead of bemoaning what we can't. We need to move to action before all our points of light fade out and we're left with the shadow of inaction.



Ah heres the rub... I had a week where I did a proposal for a documentary project, taught a class, started a new job, did a morning of research in an archive (4 hour journey involved), knitted, wrote 10 postcards to friends, cooked 4 dinners from scratch, went to a 'networking' event, helped one film-maker hook up potentially with a producer, punted a business idea, tried to set up meetings re biz idea, restrained myself from killing lodger who threw away a cheque and resulted in a few hours grubbing about in a black bin bag of rubbish, took two huge unweildy bags of stuff to charity shop, processed three films, took photographs as I went about my daily life, journalled, and did innumerable hours of chat on phone and email to be good friend. Of course all I can focus on is that I've not uplated this blog since last wednesday, arranged my annual christmas event invites, or done more housework etc.

We have to focus on what we do - do. Usually when we sit down and list it our 'not very productive weeks' are filled with activity. Its time we gave ourselves credit and worked out what is a reasonable amount of creative activity to put into a week or day and what isn't. And to monitor what really isn't worth spending time on.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004


er... emergency!

it seems the email i sent last week didn't reach you....

so, very short notice but... doing anything tomorrow night at 7pm
(thurs 18 nov)?

for a measly two squids you could immerse yourself in the pure
cinematic joy that is whateverworks at the cameo cinema

two pounds gets you into a screening / informal interview with bafta award winning filmmaker morag mckinnon and then a couple of
complimentary cocktails in the bar afterwards.... it screams value, no?

we'll be showing three pieces of morag's work, 'hoppla!' which she
co-directed as part of her masters degree, the bafta award winning
'home' and an excerpt from the bafta award winning channel 4 series
'buried' which she also directed.

tickets are available in advance either in person at the cameo cinema or by calling the box office on 0131 228 4141. the screening / q&a will start at 7pm on the nail and will last for one hour.

remember, if you can't get a ticket to the screening you're more than welcome to hang out with us in the bar from 8pm onwards...

also, a quick thanks to our supporters: channnel 4: ideasfactory,
edinburgh film focus and shooting people.

ok, hope to see you tomorrow


Tuesday, November 16, 2004

The Water Cooler

is a writing networking sort of group which meets at the Travers Bar in Edinburgh 1pm. Its meeting tomorrow. Email anne hay at blueyonder dot co dot uk for more info.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

an interview done via drawings

with SARK (Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy)

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Suzanne Falter-Barnes

of How Much Joy has started a Painless Self Promotion blog ... I'm skeptical but I'm adding it to my reading list.

Another Girl @ Play

This website started by Alex Beauchamp has interviews with 25 women who make a living creatively.

Monday, November 08, 2004

The Art of Craft

is a great blog which focuses on the business side of art making.

Sunday, November 07, 2004


Interesting creativity blog which I'm just starting to explore.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Does God Play Football?

This is very cool my best friend Rebecca Knapp (Fife girl done good!) has produced a short directed by Mike Walker which will be shown at the AFI in LA on Monday. If you scroll down the list here you can get more info about the showing times. Does God Play Football is set in South Yorkshire in the 1960's where Tommy is growing up alienated from the rest of the village as he doesn't have a father.

Friday, November 05, 2004

A Stitch in Time on the Line

I'm sewing up the blanket I've been knitting since Spring. It may not be as big as I expected so a few more emergency squares are being made up to make sure its big enough for winter snuggling on sofa with coca. The uncertainty of the world at the moment makes repetitative meditative knitting a particularly attractive option.

A friend sent me this terrific article from London's Metro about a knitting circle which meets - on the Circle line!

Couldn't find it online so I copy for your delectation.

"Today's meeting was organised by Pauline Wall who's fully prepared with flasks of tea and homemade brownies. 'There is no definitive guide and no real organisation to our knitting circles. Youa re simply a knitter and you want to knit with other people who share you passion,' says Pauline. 'So you find a group on a knitting forum that suits you. I quite like the sporadic nature of our Underground meetings. People from regular meetings - such as those in bars or cafes - can drop in, say hi and then scurry back to their own lives.

The combination of women, needlework and gossip is nothing new. Stich 'n'Bitch was the phrase coined for knit-mad housewives back int he 1950's. The term as lives on and Stitch'n' Bitch is now the name of today's biggest international knitting forum. Knitchicks can be found in various forums around the world, from New York to Australia.

But why the underground? 'People come and go,' says Pauline, whose full-time job is in finance. 'You see all different types of people. We get to do as much people-watching as those watching us. But, more importantly, we have a wider audience on the Underground and can touch more people. If you are sitting in a corner of a smoky bar somewhere, you don't actually talk to anybody else. We want people to see us and ask questions.

A few stops later, as if on cue, a young Australian girl asks Pauline about her wool. After she jumps off, Pauline tells me: 'Kiwis and Australians are far friendlier than the English, who are not as forthcoming.'

After completing just one lap of the Circle line, I'm having rouble with my stitching. One of the knittes, Aneeta, swaps seats to help me.

But technique aside, I'm not sure this if for me. I'm ready to shrivel up in embarrassment. As we arrive at Victoria, the carriage is suddenly filled with commuters fascinated by our small group. In a hushed tone, I ask Aneeta if the stares bother her. 'I don't care who stares. I'm perfectly happy,' she replies, very loudly.

'When we need the loo or a fresh drink, or when we have other plans, we call it a day.' says Rachel, a fellow knitter. 'The good thing about knitting on the Tube is that, even at the start of your journey, you are already on your way home. You just have to wait for the right stop.'

Or knitting party comes to an end and I get off with Pauline at King's Cross, while the others continue on to their own destinations. Pauline explaisn why she enjoys this type of knitting circle so much. 'It's a nice, transitory feeling, You do your lap, your time is up and you move on. During that time, you are not anywhere in particular but you are still doing something you love.'

International Stitch 'n' Bitch
Get Crafty
Cast Off - a knitting forum started by Artists
Knitting for charity

I used to knit blankets for Oxfam but they appear not to be accepting them anymore - if any one knows of a UK based charity which wants blankets please let me know.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004


Its too easy to think that we must be doing in order to be creative. I firmly believe that the not doing times are as important or even more important than the doing times. The not doing lays down the materials (in terms of experience and maturation of experience) and the energy stores needed to be creative.

Generally we dismiss rest as being unproductive which I think is a mistake or even dangerous. I was visiting a friend this afternoon who has been laid low by flu for a week and still did not feel well and I tried to encourage her to not go back to work until entirely rested. I've pushed myself in the past to work and do and produce beyond my energy capacity and creative stores and the results are not pretty.

You have enough

You are enough

You do enough

There is only one author which I've found which has fully celebrated and emphasised the importance of rest - Robyn Posin.

As she says 'Rest is as urgent significant, meaningful, honorable and productive as any other purposeful act!'

Monday, November 01, 2004

Imagine:Photography Competition

Promoted by the Wellcome Trust - prizes are up to £2000 in photographic equipment. Info here.