Bay's Travel Blog

I don't travel much any more. Resist!

Wednesday, August 10, 2005


OK. I've been blogging for months now, and this is the first time I'm going to talk about being a writer for a scrapbooking magazine. I wanted my blog to be about me, not my career. Besides, I get articles published in nearly every regular issue of Memory Makers these days -- well, to be honest, I don't have any deadlines for the regular issues of 2006, so my current spate of articles will run out in December.

(Not to worry -- I'm working on something else that isn't a regular issue, so it isn't as if I'll disappear from the planet on New Year's Eve.)

But if I posted every time one of my articles appeared on newsstands, it would be obnoxious and braggy. There's a term for that in scrapbooking circles, "shameless self-promoting." People who indulge in that practice are snarked about as being SSP's. And even I am not turned on by the scrappers who cross-post on all the major message boards about their latest publication. It's tiresome and narcissistic. After a while, you just want to tell an SSP, "Hush. You've worn out your welcome."

Now, the reason I mention all this is because I do have to surf the scrapbooking message boards in order to remain well-informed and edified about the desires of scrapbookers. Keeping an eye on online galleries helps me to figure out what's hot in terms of design, and the message boards are fabulous sources for research.

And for weeks at a time, I can read the posts and manage to keep a fairly optimistic attitude about the state of the craft and the inherent kindness of human beings.

But every once in a while, I come across things that so hurt my soul, I have to get away from the computer and pretend I don't even know what a scrapbook is. Sometimes it's truly offensive, truly criminal behavior like plagiarism and "scraplifting for profit."

(If you're not a scrapbooker, "scraplifting" is the practice of directly copying a layout. Generally, this is a good thing, because the artists who are published in the magazines want the readers to be able to copy the techniques for their own scrapbooks. But when one artist steals from another in order to be paid for the work, it's criminal. And don't get me started on plagiarism. It's rampant, inexcusable, and unforgiveable. And I don't know an honest writer who doesn't feel the same way.)

Then there are the posts that just hurt. People are very quick to criticize -- very, very quick to complain. I try to avoid threads with obviously hurtful subject headings. If a subject heading implies that the magazine for which I write is not the poster's favorite, I'll skip it. If a thread starts out with, "[XYZ Company's] product stinks," then I move right along.

But this method is fallible, and I still run into things that hurt.

I've only been online for a day and a half after my stunningly fabulous, soul-enriching trip to Club Scrap Retreat, and already I've read something that hurts.

It was a thread about the size of layouts in the newest issue of Memory Makers.

(Another aside for non-scrapping readers: The industry standard is 12x12". I don't know why. No one knows why. But that's what it is, and 12x12" papers and products outsell 8.5x11" -- by a lot. The fabulous artists who know that a rectangle is more logical and correct for design & composition desperately want the community standard to change, but it won't, and it upsets them when their preferred layout size isn't represented in the magazine to their wishes. I understand their point. I empathize with their plight. But all the cage rattling won't change the industry standard overnight, and it is in a magazine's best interests to serve the needs of the majority of their readers, not the relatively few accomplished artists who like a non-standard size layout.)

Several posts into that ostensibly inoffensive, mild thread about the percentage of 8.5x11" layouts, one poster wrote, "Well, I didn't like much of anything about this issue, anyway."


I have an PhotoJournaling column in this issue -- page 52, the September 2005 issue, byline pictured above. I mean, OK, boys and girls, I have a dog in this race. Furthermore, I think every single piece of artwork that accompanies it is stunning and amazing. The artists are Kathy Fesmire (whom I knew in high school when she was Kathy Ketron, and I still say our hometown should have thrown her a parade when she won the Masters contest at the end of 2003), Vanessa Hudson (whom I do not know, but it's a great layout), and Jane Swanson.

You know, I just had the great joy of finally meeting Jane at Club Scrap Headquarters last Saturday. I've long admired her work, and I've always been doubly glad that she's a Club Scrap aficiando like me. She is a gorgeous, tall, quietly dramatic girl with big, beautiful brown eyes. And she's really nice. And her layout is fabulous and it's going to mean something in her scrapbook long after our generation is gone and our descendants are reading our layouts for the first time. I mean -- there's a reason the magazine assigned this topic.

I cannot imagine looking at these layouts and thinking, "Nothing new here, yawn." I just can't. Everyone says not to read this stuff on the boards, and I do try, but when it's snuck into a thread like that, how can I avoid it?

It's times like this that I'm glad I'll be on vacation and away from the computer next week. If anyone wants to slam Club Scrap, or protest the topics of my assignments, or malign the artistic integrity of the magazine for which I'm privileged to write, next week is a really good time to do it. I won't be around to read it, and I won't get my feelings hurt. Go to town. Get it all out of your system. Purging is good for the soul. Rant about quality control. Rave about how much you dislike ACME Widgets embellishments. We're in the dog days of August, and I'm sure the heat will exacerbate those posts which purport to be judgmental, disparaging, nit-picky, and unsympathetic.

And I swear I won't read a word of it. May termites infest my Club Scrap stash if I do. This is amnesty for snarkiness -- so shall it be written, so shall it be done. Just not this week -- that's next week. August 15th to the 22nd. Got that? OK. Thank you.

I'm going to go watch hummingbirds now and try to revive my creative spirit.


At 11/8/05 8:44 AM, Blogger Nicky said...

Your good heart shines through with every word. Thanks for the example on how to live life.


At 11/8/05 11:09 AM, Blogger Jane said...

You've hit the nail on the scrapbooking head with this one. SO appreciate your every word on this. AND your comments about me are too too kind. It was Sheer Joy to have finally met you! I wanted to give and recieve one of your famous SMACKS but face to face like that, I just wanted to bask in conversation with you. I guess the next retreat, I actually need to attend so that I can spend MORE quality time with you! You are a Class Act Bay and I'm proud to know you.
~jane swanson

At 11/8/05 11:10 AM, Blogger Jane said...

Ah, I before E except after C.........i know this, i really do.

R E C E I V E.


At 13/8/05 12:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well I can honestly say that *you* are the reason that I buy MM, and have grown to appreciate it -- so thank you for that.

I've also been wondering why 12x12 ... I am kind of locked in now, since I started 12x12 and run several albums concurrently, but I do prefer 8 1/2 x 11 (or maybe 12x15, if I could lift the album). But here's my theory: "parent" sheets of paper from the mill will often measure 24x36 ... allowing for 6 sheets of scrapbook paper from one parent sheet, with only 3 cuts. You can get 8 sheets of 8.5x11 paper out of the parent sheet, but it requires 6 cuts, and produces waste. And the mfrs. can probably charge more for the 12x12 sheets to make the smaller quantity more profitable.

Just a guess .... if you learn the real reason, give me a shout ... it's something I've wondered about for a long time.

Keep writing, and keep blogging -- I love it!

Ann in MA

At 15/3/07 6:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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