After weeks of squeezing extra pockets of time and headspace out of my day, the new addition to my Curiosity Cabinet is now available: the first issue of the Mrs M’s Curiosity Cabinet pamphlet.
As I explained in Episode 16 of the podcast, this pamphlet is a collection of essays intended to pick up where the podcast ends. It aims to explore themes covered in certain podcast episodes in more details and from different angles. It can be read in conjunction with the podcast or as a standalone collection.
From initial idea to finished product has been quite a journey. It is one that has involved choices and dilemmas along the way and in many ways it is not finished.
On the one hand, as with anything creative, the pamphlet will never actually be finished. Like visual or musical artists, we writers can keep editing and refining. Part of the creative process is knowing when to stop; deciding that the first issue is a cohesive, polished whole ready to go on its own journey.
On the other hand, a written work, and certainly anything invoking the spirit of socially engaged pamphleteers, is not the end but rather the start of further narratives with those who choose to read it. Just as my podcast does not provide a blueprint for the urgent environmental and ethical questions of our times, neither does this pamphlet. Rather, by looking at different aspects of my making life from more angles than is possible in the podcast, I hope it can provide some insights, perspectives and practical approaches that can help you navigate your way through some of the choices your own making throws up and in the process, enhance the experience of your craft-full life.
So what is in this pamphlet?
The first issue is a collection of five essays that follow on from Episode 15 of the podcast and explore the concepts of product, process and practice further.
Two of the essays (Process and flow and Knitting is my yoga unravelled) examine issues we might classify as the psychology of making and one talks about practical approaches we might adopt as part of our journey of making (Materiality of practice) but such a categorisation is rather arbitrary as in reality mindset and process are in a continuous conversation with each other.
The fourth essay is the first in a series called Lexicon of a Maker’s Home. By looking at our making skills, knowhow and experience through the lens and language we associate with professions, industry and business, this series aims to root our making in the ancient meaning of “economics” and re-value the expertise and potential that many of us have but that for too long has been ignored or dismissed.
The final essay revolves around a practical project (Easy sourdough bread) and demystifies the process of making a wild yeast loaf, a practice that used to be common in wheat growing regions but in recent years seems to have been commoditised and shrouded in mystery and complexity.
Some of the choices and dilemmas
Editorially there were a number of decisions to make. The key one relates to style and tone. The written word is different to the spoken word but as this pamphlet is a standalone extension of my podcast, I wanted to write in a style that felt familiar to listeners, a tone that encourages curiosity and enquiry.
Then there was the issue of visuals. This type of self-published volume would typically be called a zine these days but that conjures up images of visually tantalising volumes full of photos, drawings, visual art… A collection of essays is by its very nature going to be text heavy so I have included some images to break up the pages of text. Photos that hint at the inherent beauty but also messiness in a maker’s practice. However, just as with the audio podcast, the focus of the pamphlet is unapologetically on the words and ideas contained within its pages.
Pricing posed a dilemma because pricing creative work always does. I researched other self-published volumes sold over the Internet but this did not really help as the cover prices vary dramatically and as most publications are highly visual rather than text based, it was impossible to draw any useful conclusions. I have therefore calibrated the price against the kind of sums we might pay via Patreon to support creatives who write. As I hope to produce two three pamphlets a year rather than publish individual essays per month, I came up with a price that after costs broadly resembles what we might pay on Patreon to support a writer for the duration of a quarter. The pamphlet will therefore be on sale for £6 (plus postage).
Where to buy the pamphlet?
As I mentioned in Episode 16 of my podcast, I have primarily decided to distribute the pamphlet in a printed format and will be selling it on Etsy.
If however you particularly prefer to receive the pamphlet in digital format, it will be available as such but not as an automatic download link. Please follow these instructions for digital versions.
If you choose to support my work by buying a copy of the pamphlet, I will obviously be delighted and I hope you will not only enjoy my musings but also find some inspiration and encouragement for your own journey as a maker. And as always, I thoroughly enjoy the conversations that flow from the reflections I share in my Curiosity Cabinet so please don’t be shy about sharing your own.