So… The last few months…
How do I describe them using positive words? It all seems to have been grim never ending toil intermingled with moments of heartbreaking grief and despair.
Sure there have been highlights but for longer than I care to remember now the world has weighed heavily on my shoulders.
Starting a magazine from scratch has been the hardest, most brutally stressful undertaking of my 39 years on the planet and to be honest I’m not sure I the potential rewards have been worth the hours, the days even of mental anguish that I have gone through. I’ve had to learn so much and quite often the act of learning can only take place when you realise what you don’t know. And needless to say this realisation never seems to come early when there’s a gap in the calendar and a few days to learn a new skill.
Going into the magazine project had been a goal of mine for some time, ever since a chat with a climber from the Blue Mountains started to give shape to an idea of creating a purely performance based, high end climbing magazine focusing on the aspirational stars of the sport.
From my work as a photographer I knew several top professionals in the sport and so I decided to go to Europe, follow the IFSC World Cups and get what I figured I’d need for the magazine.
Of course I had no idea of the complexities of the mission I was undertaking or I may well have hid under a rock and avoided the concept altogether. Fortunately for the magazine, but maybe less so for me I had no idea and so blundered around Europe, taking photos, reporting on the competitions and getting to know the athletes so I could get the interviews I needed. At that stage everything was going great and the more people I spoke to about my vision the more enthusiasm I received from the climbing scene.
I was not to know, I could not know then how much my life was about to collapse on my return to Australia. On the day of my return I was given the news that my father had pancreatic cancer and soon it became apparent that he had only months to live. The same months I had planned to write a magazine in. I was committed to the magazine by this time but suddenly the timeline started to slip. I had to go back to New Zealand on several occasions to spend time with my family and to be honest, even though I was working hard on the magazine my father’s illness was a far greater priority in my life.
So it was the expected completion of the magazine slipped from late September to October, then November then finally to December. Tragically my father passed away in Mid-December and would never see the finished item, although he did get the final proof in time to read over it and get a good idea of the finishing product. And I know through all his pain and suffering seeing the magazine come to life helped keep him going that little bit longer as he waited for every update.
If the Magazine was printed in December where is it I can hear people ask. The simple answer is that while I grieved I needed to step back and breathe, to re-centre myself and get back on my feet. And to be completely honest I’m still not there yet.
The first thing I realised was I lacked the emotionally capacity to deal with all the work being heaped on me. Freight was turning into a nightmare and as I had no idea things were taking much longer than they needed to. In fact freight to the US has now been delayed 3 times due to my lack of knowledge around the cryptic paperwork requirements and instead of having already landed in the US as it should have I’m still trying to sort it out. By now I’m paying storage fees in China and twice have had to step back and stop myself from telling the freight company to destroy the lot of them as I just can’t seem to make headway with it and I’m failing to deal with the bullshit bureaucracy at an emotional level.
Now finally I am (hopefully) one single form away from the US shipment getting underway on the 28th which will be a huge load off my shoulders.
I hope the magazine will sell well. Pre-orders are ok, not where I wanted them but reasonable and interest seems to be growing in the wider climbing community. I need to really push now and over the coming weeks to get things moving with stock arriving in Australia late next week and in the UK and Europe a few weeks after that. All the pre-orders worldwide will be filled from the initial shipment to Australia so at least they’ll be getting their copies soon.
The simple truth is if I don’t get them selling my World Cup season this year could be very short. I’ve poured not only my heart and soul but my savings into this and currently only have budget till the Innsbruck round of the 2014 IFSC Bouldering World Cup series. I am sure the return on investment will come but needless to say, while still grieving the loss of my father, the added stress has really beaten me up and I need to lift myself up and start pushing sales, both to individuals and gyms.
The only bright spark has been that initial reaction to the few copies of the finished product has been extremely positive. Graeme Alderson from The Climbing Works in Sheffield was impressed enough by the finished product that he immediately put in a big order for the gym and the initial feedback from the reviewers I’ve got copies to is that they are impressed with the magazine as well.
Oh and of course all the pain I am enduring this time will make the next issue that much easier to produce. I don’t need to learn the same lessons twice and without the background of personal tragedy it’ll be much easier to run to schedule.
I want to finish this out with a huge thanks to everyone who has supported me over the last 6 months or so. I know at times I’ve been insufferable, distracted and extremely intense at times. My friends have really kept me going and helped me battle my demons. I’ve leant on them immensely and can’t thank them enough. Life is still overwhelmingly oppressive at the moment with the combination of grief and stress but my friends have helped me through it all.