It’s World Goth Day (whatever that means now) and I find myself with nothing gothic to do. Not that I am usually at a club, or gig, or gothic animal charity event every 22nd May, but I usually have something gothic to do. Being the managing editor of the world’s largest goth magazine means you always have something goth-related to do, but this WGD I find I’m just plain ol’ me. Eight months ago I made the decision to quit the publication completely and even though it has been a while, I still find myself sad about it. My black heart aches.
I was going to write a ‘tell-all’ piece about how the magazine owes me money (it does), and how it mistreated its writers in the recent years (it did) or how great opportunities were missed for coverage of awesome things because of poor management (they were). I considered it, very seriously. I decided it was not the way I wanted to go. And let’s be serious for a moment, who would care? What was more important to me was what the collapse of the magazine, and my dream job with it, had meant to me. I’m aware even fewer people will care about this, but it’s easier for me to write as it’s how I feel (which is why I’m not great at reviews because I’m a little more ‘gonzo’ than publishers require. I’ll tell you about my rejection from Metal Hammer at some point. Nah).
I remember seeing back issues of GB at an old boyfriend’s house and thinking that I wanted to write for them. The magazine covered fashion, art, books, music and film and even had the odd make-up tutorial. It was the format of a mainstream magazine but in black. I loved it.
It must have been only a year or two later, they accepted my application to write for them. I was going to be paid to contribute and write articles of my own, as well as be offered pieces to take forward, all about the gothic culture. I was over the moon.
I would spend my spare time thinking of original pitches, looking at forthcoming tour schedules for band interviews or offering to simply review the latest eyeliner I’d bought. I wanted to contribute and be part of something bigger and I felt like I was finally getting to do so. This is what my Psychology BSc dissertation on Goth had been building to, my collection of GloomCookie comics, my obsession with bats, my desire for macabre history all seemed like they had a point now (outside of making me smile). I interviewed designers and artists, reviewed Neil Gaiman books and lipstick, but my original pitches tended to be more social commentary – things I had been ‘writing’ in my head for years. Pieces on ‘Goth Points’ and how we judge ourselves as well as everyone else, or ‘Gothic Originals’ a piece humoursly introducing gothic icons to newby baby bats and ‘Goth Vs Fetish’ a piece referencing my baby bat years and how goths are misinterpreted. I felt proud when my interiew with Wednesday Mourning got good comments because of the interview itself, rather than just the subject, and when people wrote to thank me for my ‘interesting questions’ or an interview piece that really captured them. I was proud of my work and I felt appreciated, like I’d finally found my writing niche.
Then the magazine started to slip a little. Release deadlines were becoming later, as were paydays. Pay rates were also being cut without notice, as were articles and even whole sections. Staff were being dismissed quietly and then trashed on group emails. It was then that I was asked to be the managing editor. There was no application process, or even a job offer really, just an email asking if I’d like to do it. Stupidly I said I would love to. Stupidly I asked for $50 an issue as a fee. Anyone in publishing will be gobsmacked right now. I underestimated my worth (and the work load) and was just pleased that someone had clearly noticed my pure black heart, as well as my talent for deadlines and being organised. I emailed all the writers with a rallying cry, created shared documents for pitches and started planning the next issue. I was sure I could turn everything around and get my name out there as the person who made GB great again.
I worked incredibly hard. I was incredibly naiive. I made zero difference. I had no control over the social media or website, or when the magazine was published (even when all the content was complete and every image submitted it could take months). I had emails left unanswered and found I struck a brick wall whenever I tried to do something new as I had no access to anything that the public could see.
I contributed to eleven issues in all over six years, and was the managing editor for two of those. Finally, after more deadlines were missed and I was becoming more stressed, I decided to quit. Once I’d made the decision in my head, I felt instantly better, like I had finally decided to walk away from a draining relationship. GB had become very one-sided and I was exhausted. I had been managing and writing for the magazine in my evenings and weekends while also having a full time job and keeping my copywriting contracts going.
It just wasn’t worth it.
I spent an evening composing an email that outlined how I felt and why I was making this decision, heartfelt and honest. I waited anxiously for the reply and there was a part of me hoping that GB would ask me to stay. The two line email I received just confirmed to me that my decision had been the right one –
“Hi Lenore. Thanks for letting me know. Yeah if you could just finish from that google doc list for branded content that’d be appreciated. I’ll try to assign others for what’s left. Thanks for stepping in and trying to help out.”
In the months since I’ve just stopped writing. I started a cemetery travel blog but have only written five posts in the same number of months (and they get about the same number of readers). I considered writing to Haute Macabre and offering my contribution, but keep talking myself out of it. Some suggested I start my own magazine, but I haven’t got the energy or the desire.
I think my black heart has just had enough.
So this World Goth Day I am being the gothest person in the world. I’m sat alone, with my laptop and a glass of wine, lamenting at what could have been, hoping that someone might listen.