I generally don't read self-help books. I've seen few written for an individualist, rights-respecting audience (a notable exception are the few Wayne Dyer books I've read), so most of them I've thumbed through have set me to rolling my eyes or sighing loudly just looking at their tables of contents. Being an experimental psychologist, I think the entire field ought to be held to a high standard, with rigorous research to back claims made--and much of the self-help area just doesn't meet this criterion. So, I'll admit to having mixed feelings when Claire Wolfe told me about her self-help book for activists, Think Free to Live Free: A Political Burnout's Guide to Life, The Universe and Everything (see my review, also in this issue of DF!). On the one hand, I knew she'd "been there, done that" and is a fine writer; on the other, much of self-help is wishful thinking and victim enabling, rather than being truly helpful. When she offered this 'zine an exclusive preview, I reciprocated by offering to review the book, cautioning her that I'm not an easy audience on this topic.
Am I ever glad she took me up on my offer!
My review speaks for itself, so I'm not going to repeat it here. Before reading Think Free to Live Free, I was a semi-burned out individual, stressed by a lot of things but not really sure how to find my way clear of many of them. Much of it dealt with my activism in the freedom movement, including publishing this 'zine, combined with the demands of full-time motherhood to two active toddlers. I'm not sure which is worse, trying to raise the children to be free individuals, or trying to encourage our usual contributors to keep the good stuff flowing for the 'zine. Y'all have no idea how close I came to throwing in the towel on DF!, more than once...
Then I received the book, and while I didn't have an epiphany, nor hear angels chorusing on high, I was surprised by the amount of benefit I received from the time I was able to devote to reading Think Free. I realized I'd been holding expectations of my abilities to be publisher, writer, web mistress, and mom that were too high, got a clearer picture on what is most important to me, and formulated some ideas on a better strategy for me.
For you, dear DF! reader, that means some changes are afoot here. First and foremost, the numbers we've accumulated over the past year tell us that the subscriber/for-profit strategy isn't one the market is willing to bear right now. People weren't subscribing in the numbers we need to keep paying our writers. Investors were even harder to come by.
So, instead of trying to find ways to change this, I've decided to go with the flow for now. That means, first and foremost, that we're not accepting new subscriptions, and that all the formerly subscriber-only benefits will be moved over to the main site as my schedule allows. I do intend to keep publishing DF! as long as I can, because it's obvious to me that it's filling a real need... but I'm not going to work myself into a frenzy about keeping an every-other-month publication schedule. I will keep the quality high (as high as I can) because readers tell me that's important, but I won't be pestering authors regularly any more. If you want to contribute, write a good, practical piece, check our writer's guidelines, and send it to me; I'll get back to you on it as soon as I can. If you send in questions, The Advisor column will appear in issues; if not, then it won't, and I won't feel (too) guilty about that. In essence, it's fairly close to business as usual, but without some of the pressure I've felt on me since the beginning of the 'zine.
Doing Freedom! is like a child of DLT's and mine--a creation we brought into the world together, one we work hard on and enjoy and want to see thrive. But unlike our biological children, other people's market choices influence the amount of time we can devote to this cyber-child. While I'll be scaling back in some areas, the improvement in my mental state ought to compensate for that, making the final product as good as it's ever been.
So, thanks, Claire, for helping me work through that muddle. And now, if y'all will excuse me, I'm gonna go play with the kids for a while, without feeling the pressure of doing something "for the cause".
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