Wot no subs?

LeftLion held its annual Christmas meal and celebrations in Bar Deux on Saturday, treating editors to a meal. In six years of writing for the magazine it’s the first time I’ve had a freebie, so certainly cause for celebration. Afterwards we congregated in the bar and eagerly awaited the arrival of our respective subs who had all been invited by department editors for a few thank you beers, nibbles and free music from four local bands. It was an opportunity to finally place a face to an email. However, barely anyone turned up.

I find this very alarming because it shows a complete lack of ambition on the part of the writers. Here was an opportunity for them to tell us a bit about themselves, share or pitch ideas for future issues or at the very least do a bit of basic networking. Journalism is all about meeting people so if you can’t be bothered to leave the house you haven’t got that inquisitive gene and so you’re in the wrong profession. We even provided plates of salted and roasted peanuts for goodness sake…

I suspect, though, that many people who write for LeftLion don’t want to be journalists. They just want to get into a music gig or the theatre for free. But this still requires some effort. You’re not going to be given a free ticket to Glastonbury until you’ve proved you can cover the small bands in the grotty pubs first. Similarly, you’ve got to review a couple of self-published books before getting the latest Jon McGregor in hardback. You have to earn your spurs.

I ended up as the Literature Editor of LeftLion because I was furious at the lack of coverage of books in the magazine. I bombarded them with suggestions, produced the goods on time, but most importantly met up with editorial so that I could convey my passion. Perhaps there simply isn’t the same motivation in the digital age. Everyone has some form of online presence and the potential to reach a global audience and so face-to-face relationships may appear irrelevant in comparison. But conversations spark creativity and make meaningful connections in a way that a formal email or factual text do not. Underestimate this at your peril.