Road Trip Two: England Alone

Next week I’m heading off for Bristol with around £60 in my pocket and and a few hundred copies of the – not yet made – Issue #2 of Artificial Womb zine. Once I get there I’ll be hosting a feminist open-mic poetry night in an anarchist bookshop (more about that here – and then making my way to Leeds to have a table at the Leeds Zine Fair on August 8.

Hydra Event August

I’m concerned that:
– I’ll run out of fuel on the motorway
– No-one will come to the poetry night
– All the honesty boxes Alfie and I left in England last month will have been stolen
– I’ll fuck up my back sleeping in my car or get sick from sleeping in my tent

Apart from that I’m looking forward to it! It will be nice to spend a week or so traveling around on my own. My mum’s been traveling around England this week having her own adventures (a new summer tradition for her which I’m really pleased about), and I’m kind of jealous. But it won’t be long until I too am on the open road, listening to Alanis Morissette on CD and singing at the top of my lungs.

Driving is the best.

I was hoping that people would have started signing up to the Patreon in larger numbers, but I guess most people have already got a copy of the first issue or are still waiting on their Kickstarter reward portraits before giving us any more money. Which is fair. It just adds to the instability of things on my end.

I think I’ll head to Liverpool first. Can I get there on a full tank? It’s 289 miles from Dundee (via Glasgow and Carlisle), about five hours driving. So yes, it’s just about possible if I did it in a one-er. OR I could go Dundee to Newcastle, which is 187 miles or 3 hours and fifteen minutes or so. If I got there around lunchtime I could see if we sold any zines in the venues we left them in and then mooch around the arty areas selling zines and comics from my shiny new zine distro turquoise trolley (!!) until I’d made enough money to continue on to Liverpool.

Fortunately selling newspapers and/or publications on the street is covered as part of the free press privileges and doesn’t require a street trading or peddling license. There’s still parking fees and food to consider, but there’s usually ways to keep costs down for both.

But fuel. Fuel is the big worry for me at the moment (and ties directly into the other two worries about the poetry night and the honesty boxes). If the zine hasn’t really taken off in England there’s a real risk that I literally might not be able to pay for the fuel I need to get back to Dundee from Bristol. It’s a long fucking way away.

I’ve applied for an overdraft on the business account, but haven’t heard a word back from the bank about that. I’ve also paid (£10) for a Facebook ad to promote the poetry event from now until August 1, which is the evening it’s on. But I can’t put up physical posters or spread the word on the streets of Bristol. Should I even have agreed to host the night? Yes. Yes, I need to go and collect the honesty boxes and replace any leftover Issue #1 zines with the new Issue #2s.

I know this is the first month of trading and I’ve made things pretty hard on myself by trying to go cover England as well as Scotland, but… it’s done now. At least I’m not trying to scramble together money to go to Northern Ireland as well.

The Kickstarter money went on what it was supposed to: buying the printer, ink and paper, making the car and insurance payments, buying the wholesale stock for the zine distro, paying all the contributors, buying a table (trolley!) and chair for direct distribution, getting all the necessary stationary for starting a business, dying my hair*.

But the fact that it’s nearly all gone now is filling me with dread. What if the show of support with the Kickstarter was a blip? What if. What if. What if.

I should go to bed. Driving to Edinburgh tomorrow to host a pop-up shop at a ‘youth’ arts event. Likelyhood I’ll break even… low? Maybe I shouldn’t go.


*As the ‘face’ of this enterprise I’m counting any hair costs as business costs, because it’s part of representing the business. There’s a lot of literature on whether office attire, professional make-up etc can be considered business expenses. The answer is still being debated, but I generally feel if you feel you have to wear it to work and you’re professionally judged on it then yeah, it’s a business matter. I’ll maybe discuss this more later. I can put my business accounts up on here if people would feel more reassured about where their Kickstarter and Patreon donations are going?