Being a part of something bigger than yourself can mean taking for granted the special elements of it that no one else gets to see but you and the other people involved. The behind-the-scenes, the machinery under the stage, the levers and pulleys and trick doors.
To many, ISSUE Magazine is the digital words they read, a neat little site with a Facebook page and Twitter account (just like all the other little blogs on the playground), an email address to send things to, a monthly collection of voices and words. And that’s great — that’s what we strive for, the successful presentation of all the hard work, of a streamlined creative process that produces results.
But to me, as a member of the ISSUE editorial team, this magazine and collaboration happen largely in the interstices, the in-between times before each finished edition — at all hours of the day when I’m Whatsapping with co-editors Lutfi and Al, swapping rapidfire Twitter DMs with sub-editor Syaz, emailing with Dhi, Raina, Derek, Mabel, and all the other names that have gotten so comfortable in my contacts list over the past year. Sometimes we even see each other outside our phones and computers, producing and dissecting ideas and details over coffee and pastries.
There’s the questions, the jokes, the anxiety, the flurry of checklists on the eve of a publishing day (my date for Valentine’s night was a mug of tea and this magazine; all my 14ths for 2012/2013 have been taken). There’s the work coming in through the inbox that gets passed around for edits, back and forth with the contributors, the tips and suggestions through Twitter, Facebook, word-of-mouth, the real-life events, trading business cards and names, following up on leads of opportunities, of stories and interviews. In the past 12 months, we’ve been having so many conversations with each other on how best to make meaningful conversations happen with everyone else.
I revisit the very first ISSUE editor’s note, by Al. How fitting to remember that this all started from the desire to record a monthly podcast, a monthly conversation about issues “that were open and honest but without the trite ‘motivational’ or self-victimizing quality that is natural to occur in something like that.”
We’ve come a long way, but I’d like to think that we carry the seed of that initial idea in most of the things we do, in how we have created a space for other people’s voices, how we have created ways for other voices to respond, to harmonise, to dissent. Have we been open and honest? Have we kept away from being trite? We hope so. We keep trying.
So this editor’s note, and even this milestone ISSUE, isn’t meant to be a retrospective. Instead maybe what we’re looking for is a little perspective.
We’ve got 13 ISSUEs under our belt, we’ve met and spoken to so many new and interesting people, we’ve explored a lot of themes and different mediums of expression, thanks to our awesome contributors, supporters and team. We’ve even got to stretch our legs at real events more recently, “fleshing us out, and giving us [more] form”, in the words of that quiet instigator Al. What next?
New shifts and changes are occuring to us, new goals and ideas and maybe better ways to work, for our writers and contributors, and for the editors as well. We’re taking into account the suggestions we’ve received from our readers and people we’ve worked with — regarding themes, regarding conversation & support for contributors, regarding site navigation. ISSUE itself has grown much bigger compared to the little idea that could from back in June 2012. We want to go forward into the new age of ISSUE, and to do that, we’ve decided to take a break to regroup.
Before I started writing this editor’s note, I sent an email round asking a few questions about how people fell in with this project of ours, what they’ve learned, suggestions and comments. I also asked them to sum up the spirit of this endeavour by completing the phrase ISSUE is _______.
In my mind, the most apt word to come from this exercise is “evolving.” ISSUE’s growing up, and we don’t want to get stale, but we do want to get a bit more wise.
To mark our first year, we’ve put together the voices of our growing team, so they can tell you what ISSUE is to them. We hope in the next phase of this ever-growing project, more voices will be added, more ideas will be sparked, more conversations will happen, and more collaborations and work will be produced.
ISSUE:X also features beautiful illustrations, resulting from a collaboration from an ISSUE contributor that has been with us from the start and one we hope will keep sharing his talents with us in our coming editions. We hope you enjoy the work of Dhiyanah Hassan and Muizz Adam as much as we do.
PS: Music for the video is “Growing Up” by Lullatone, which can be streamed and downloaded here.
What will Syar S. Alia do with herself in July? She’s excited to find out, and hopes it’s something she can share with ISSUE in August.