What Happened Next?

The Princes Trust Enterprise Program started with a four-day course. I blogged about the first three days and have been silence ever since. It wasn’t intentional, I had planned to blog about all four days, but it does seem strangely appropriate. The fourth day of the course was about the next stretch of the program works, the mentoring, the panel, and the loan. It was about what happens next.

What happened next is that I got thrown into the busiest two-week period I can remember for a long time. Over the course of 14 days I went to Norwich, Leeds, Winchester and Norwich again. And that’s ignoring the time spent in London.

The first trip to Norwich was for two different seminars at the University of East Anglia. One was on the comic book as book arts and the importance of reading the entire book in comic scholarship. This is a subject that I have spent a lot of time considering, including writing an article for The Arts Libraries Journal, delivering a conference paper and making numerous book pieces that explore the subject.

The other seminar was for the MA Publishing Module during which I discussed As Yet Untitled and Elbow Room. It was a successful three hours that included a book binding session half way through. Perfectly timed doing the seminar allowed me to talk about the press up to this point, helping me to solidify some of our history: a history that is going to be important in moving forward.

Teaching is something I want to do more of as I move forward with the press. It is something that I feel is useful for the business. It is inspiring, creates contacts, give me time for thought and reflects some of the core values of the press. Or at least, the illusive ideas I think are the core values of the press.

After Norwich came Leeds for a conference, Reading the Fantastic: Tales Beyond the Borders. It was without doubt one of the most interesting conference I have been to in a long while and I took pages and pages of notes. My own paper, Un-Real Photography: Fantastical Fictions and Imagined Other Worlds, was the only visual arts paper during the conference and was well received. The paper came from years of research into narrative photography, research that is the foundation of She Must and upcoming book The Ellentree.

The day trip to Winchester was once again for a seminar about the press, this time for Publisher Hub at Winchester School of Art.

During all these trips in and out of London I was preparing the third and final part of our trilogy of Elbow Room UEA Special Editions. Printing is always stressful and we inevitably ran out of ink at just the wrong moment. Binding so many copies of Elbow Room in such a short space of time took two of us. Dealing with ink supplies is always a nightmare. But we did it just in time for me to head back to Norwich for Elbow Room Live at the Bicycle Shop.

Our live events are something that I see as being central to the press and our alternative approach to publishing and book arts. This is something I need to work on explaining and building into the pitch and description of As Yet Untitled as I go forward with creating a business plan. At the Bicycle Shop we had eight readings and two live music sets from the wonderful Various Guises. A more detailed account of the night can be found on the Elbow Room blog.

The live night was our way of celebrating the special edition and kicking of our third year at Turn the Page Artists Book Fair. TTP is my favourite fair all year, beautifully curated, in a welcoming and light filled space the fair attracts a lot of people and does a huge amount to support its exhibiting book artists. It has been, for the last few years, the highlight of our calendar and is something I would like to continue building upon.

Somewhere during all this I had my first meeting with the next step mentor. I don’t know what I was expecting but it still managed to be unexpected. The mentor was interesting, interested and understood most of my ideas. As with every other step this first meeting felt practical and encouraging.

This two-week example of busy, productive insanity is something I want to happen regularly (though with perhaps a little less insanity and ink running out). Working with the Princes Trust is the way to get the press to the point where it can happen regularly and we will be equipped to deal with it, to embrace it. The first step of making that reality is to work on all the things discussed with my mentor. The next step will come when I meet with my mentor for the second time. As Yet Untitled is starting to feel like something I can truly shape, now it is just a question of doing so.