It was this time last year that I made the decision to leave full-time employment and try and do something I’ve always wanted to do: start my own publication. When I made this decision, I had a very romantic view of how the following few months would play out. I imagined myself dressed in something bookish, like a crisp shirt, as I brainstormed ideas in notebooks over a fresh pot of coffee. I’m surrounded by publications: novels, non-fiction, magazines, immaculately designed art books. I would also finally be able to read all of the novels I have had on my ‘to read’ list for the past 10 years, in the name of ‘research’.
In reality, my notebooks were replaced with google docs, shirts for daggy sweaters and a singular coffee cup for four dirty ones. It was six months of long days and nights creating Lindsay and another six keeping it going. There hasn’t been a lot of time to get through my fiction wishlist on long train trips or at local cafes, but I have certainly read more than ever before.
It starts in bed at 7am when I wake up to my alarm. After two to three rounds of snoozing, I sleepily swipe through my socials. I do this partly to wake up and partly for work: to keep up-to-date, to stay connected, and in the hope of discovering a new story or contributor. After a coffee and some brekkie, I read emails—the ones that are sent to me and then the ones I write (sometimes twice or three times over depending on who I’m writing to).
The early days were filled reading sites and books about working for yourself, remaining efficient, publishing, things to keep me inspired. I read The School of Life’s How To Be An Entrepreneur from cover to cover and discovered I have the start-up uniform of jeans and runners (think Jerry Seinfeld meets Mark Zuckerberg) down pat. I subscribe to a hefty amount of newsletters, so I read them as they come in (or when I have time) and then I scour the internet and read in search of ideas, stories and contributors. I move between The New Yorker, The New York Times, Lucky Peach (R.I.P), Pitchfork, Monocle, The Saturday Paper, Jezebel, The Guardian, Little White Lies, Lenny, It’s Nice That, Victory and anywhere else a link, or twenty, might take me.
More recently, in anticipation of our first print issue, I demolished So You Want to Publish a Magazine? and Jeremy Leslie’s (of Magculture fame) Independent—two pieces of essential reading for anyone wanting to make a magazine, along with the Stack and Magculture blogs. I have also made a conscious effort to spend more time reading away from the screen, and this is my favourite kind of reading. It feels more nourishing and less like work. The touch of the paper grounds me, and away from links and flashing ads, I am less distracted. The Gentlewoman, Apartamento, Colors and The Happy Reader have been longtime favourites, but lately I have been broadening my horizons and dipping into the likes of Vanity Fair, The White Review, Perdiz, Brown Book, Too Much, McGuffin, The Paris Review and Kennedy. I’ve even been reunited with some old loves as I revisit old copies of LIFE, Acne Paper, National Geographic, Vogue.
I read the work of Lindsay writers. I read about Eugenia Flynn’s experience growing up with a mix of Aboriginal and Asian cuisine, Greg Holland’s time in the midst of Yangon’s punk scene and interviews with the likes of Luca Guadagnino and Brit Bennett. I will read any draft at least twice: the first time to read in full, the second to make edits. If in doubt, I re-read snippets of Mary Norris’s Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen and The Elements of Style. Once we’re (me and the writer) are happy with the piece, I’ll pop it in the CMS, where I read through it again—to proof and to pull out any quotes.
So while I started this job for my love for words (amongst other things), I’ve realised that being an editor does not necessarily give me extra hours in the day to read for leisure. Instead, it chews up a vast amount of my week working through endless task lists filled with an abundance of essential reading. And after hours of reading on screen each day, my tired eyes can rarely read anymore. While I haven’t had the time to read the final three Ferrantes or the extensive archive of Didion and Adichie, like I had hoped, I have certainly read a lot of wonderful words that have filled me up in other ways. It’s lucky you look very pretty on my bedside table Zadie Smith, you might be there a little longer than I hoped.
Beth Wilkinson is the founder, editor and creative director of Lindsay—a magazine celebrating place and culture.