Discovering Something When It’s Too Late

Have you ever discovered something cool just a little too late? For me, that's Scratch Magazine.

Manjula Martin, editor and publisher, started Scratch two years ago to expand the conversation around writing and commerce. Or, as she explains, to answer questions about “that nagging, quiet specter of money that hovers over creative professions.”

But could she sustain a reader-supported quarterly magazine without ads? Her final letter from the editors explains why it wasn't possible.

Their final issue, The End, is available for free until July 31 thanks to a sponsorship from the National Writers Union. It's a collection of stories about complicated endings — being fired, quitting, and more.

Sadly, I didn't know this existed until I stumbled upon Manjula's farewell interview with The Billfold a few days ago.

Zooey Deschanel in Almost Famous

Rachael Maddux‘s story about why she quit music journalism especially resonated with me. Inspiration from the movie Almost Famous weaves throughout the piece, but I really loved her realization at the end:

“I always felt like the film presented two ways of loving music: you were the groupie (Anita), or you were the writer (William). I didn’t want to be the groupie, so I became the writer. But lately, I’m thinking more about Anita, how the way she loved music and how music worked in her life was so important to William, but how her experience seems to be totally off the radar of the movie itself. Anita uses music to explain herself, to fill in life’s ineffable gaps; she doesn’t need to probe it or track its every move. She leaves her brother that satchel of records, the note telling him to burn the candle and see his future—it’s cheesy, but she was just a kid too. Anyway, she got it.”

So much about her story mirrors my own struggle within the music business and my very difficult decision to leave it.

Sometimes I miss the feeling of forgetting to breathe while watching a performance from backstage. It happened the first time I saw Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings play “Elvis Presley Blues” from a small theater in Des Moines. And when Heart totally nailed the chorus on “Alone” at an amphitheater in Raleigh.

But other times, I'm just grateful for leisurely Saturday mornings alone on my couch listening to the birds.

My company's generously purchased box seats for the entire season of concerts at Nashville's shiny, new downtown amphitheater, but I can't bring myself to ask for any tickets. Even for a few artists I really love. It's just…complicated.

But, like Maddux says, there's more than one way for music to be a part of our lives. And I'm working on what that means for me.

What's Next For Scratch?

I've linked to Scratch's Twitter account above because I'm not sure how long their site will stick around for. Manjula promises future projects related to money and writing, including a column for The Toast, and I think what she's doing is really important.

Speaking of important projects, she's got another project called Who Pays Writers? It's an anonymous, crowdsourced list of which publications pay freelance writers, and how much. It's a fantastic resource!

I recommend checking out Scratch's final issue and keeping an eye on Manjula. Clearly, she's got a cool thing going and I'm not alone in looking forward to what's next.

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Discussions — 8 Responses

  • Tonya@Budget and the Beach July 5, 2015 on 9:31 am

    That’s really interesting you can’t bring yourself to go to the shows. Does it bring back bad memories as well as experiencing good music? I think I’m more like Anita too. With music AND movies. Working in that industry for a brief period of time nearly ruined going to see movies for me.

    • Kate Dore Tonya@Budget and the Beach July 12, 2015 on 4:10 pm

      Yeah, I’m trying to move past it and find ways to just enjoy live entertainment without thinking about all the promoters, managers, agents, etc. 🙂

  • Shannon @ Financially Blonde July 6, 2015 on 10:29 am

    I love Almost Famous and I can see how the movie weaves in with your life as well. I feel like I’m always late to the party on discovering things. I get so busy with my day to day life and business activities that I rarely branch out into other areas. Facebook used to be a great way for me to find new things, but now it just seems cluttered. Anyway, I’m sorry to miss the magazine, but will look for more from Manjula.

    • Kate Dore Shannon @ Financially Blonde July 12, 2015 on 4:13 pm

      Yeah, I’m bummed that I’m too late on Scratch, but I have no doubt Manula will create some cool stuff going forward.

  • Brian Robben July 14, 2015 on 6:42 pm

    I think it’s important that you’ve recognized what you’re trying to move past and sticking with it. Congrats on that! (I’m a new reader excited to read more in the future.)

    • Kate Dore Brian Robben July 14, 2015 on 7:52 pm

      Thanks so much for the encouragement, Brian! And welcome 🙂

  • Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life July 20, 2015 on 9:11 am

    Thanks for sharing these – checking out who pays writers now. I love that excerpt. I hate how we set adapt these limiting narratives on how art can be a part of our life- all or nothing. I’m navigating my own relationship with it now and kind of loving the new territory I’ve discovered.

    • Kate Dore Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life August 8, 2015 on 11:30 am

      Definitely not easy, Stefanie. I hate that Scratch Magazine wasn’t able to make their model work 🙁


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