by Anon. (reprinted from YAWN)
Burn is what happens when you’ve been doing a project for quite some time. The initial thrill has worn off long ago. The intermediate stage, where things are getting bigger, you’re getting noticed, the number of people who know of you is in the thousands, that’s happened too. Now it’s to the point where you are sick of it all. Burn is what you do. Burn up, Burn out, Burn off, Burn bright. Burn is a series of strategies for dealing with success when you’d really rather fail.
Success. Ambition is for yuppies. Careers are impossible. But you’ve got an underground career. Maybe you have a scrapbook of clippings, or you’ve tried to ignore the mainstream media mentions. You are famous. Probably that’s not what you set out to do, but it’s true. When Newsweek or Interview or the Village Voice calls for an interview, you are excited, but also cringe. How badly will they mess it up this time?
Offering a final interview before beginning a media blackout enforceable by death, a character in Bruce Sterling’s novel Islands in the Net says, “We also understand the far more insidious threat that you pose, with your armies of cameramen. We don’t want your world. We don’t respect your values and we don’t care to be touched. We are not a tourist attraction—we are a revolution, not a zoo. We will not be tamed or assimilated. By your very nature, by your very presence, you would force assimilation on us. That will not be allowed.”
Some groups refuse to talk to mainstream media. Articles saying that a group is not talking to the media don’t work to get messages out. We can’t control the media, but we have to find ways to communicate with minimum distortion. Demand to have your press releases printed verbatim. Speak only under the condition that your address will be printed. Burn the press.
It’s too much work. Sending zines to stores, going on tours, trying to line up gallery shows. All this work, and little appreciation. Figure out what parts you don’t like doing, and decide if they’re really necessary to your project. You don’t really owe anyone anything. Burn your subscription list.
You’ve decided to quit completely . Don’t the reasons you started in the first place still exist? If your project has unleashed demons, Burn this project, but start another to put them to rest. You’re too valuable to leave us without your voice.
If your project is general, make it specialized. If too many people are interested, Burn it down so only specifically interested people stay.
If you hate being a one-person mailroom, get a distributor, or even a publisher. You’ll have new headaches to deal with. Or hire shitworkers. Raise the cover price to pay them. Nobody appreciates the low price you charge. Selling out is not a dirty word. The people who buy your product are just consumers. You are not single-handedly destroying Capitalism. You deserve to make a profit. Burn headaches.
In notes to Big Black’s Songs About Fucking Steve Albini writes, “Hey, breaking up is an idea that has occurred to far too few groups. Sometimes to the wrong ones.” Once again, if your project is too generic, Burn it. Burn mediocrity.
Everyone who’s now doing some thing should quit for a while and let other people have a chance. The same people always talk in class. Art Strike, any one? Or maybe all men should shut up for a decade or so. Burn loudmouths.
Figure out when the last time you enjoyed your project was. Maybe several years ago. Scale your project back to that point. If you feel you have a commitment to your current level of involvement, try the old level just as an experiment. Get back to your roots. Prune. Burn back.
Does this take too much time? Do a project you can do in a day, in an hour, in a minute. Flash Burn.
If you’re still enjoying your self, don’t make these mistakes. Too many people have done a good issue of a zine by themselves but want contributors. People have a band and want a recording contract. What ever happened to just having fun, not a career? Soon enough, you’ll have nostalgia for today. Burn ambition.
Don’t Burn out. Just say no to overcommitment. Stay at a reasonable level of involvement. Don’t have a crisis. Don’t keep doing the same thing until you get bored; change it to maintain your interest. Be unpredictable. Don’t be a media slut or a media slave. Do something new.
What the fuck do I know? Don’t listen to me. Who died and made me queen? I’m no expert. I’m just laying out some strategies I want to try, a way to keep going, a way to not be a casualty. I want to keep doing this for a long time. The world is always ending soon, but they keep putting it off. I don’t want to go back to nothing, which is what I had before. Find a way to avoid complacency, redundancy, monotony. Find a way to keep it fresh. Find my sense of humor again. Find my sense of fun again. Regain my enthusiasm. To Burn: this works for me.
Burn is a Burn. Burn has no distribution, no commitment, no issues, no pride, no address, no contributors, no poetry, no politics, no music, no sex, no humor, no collage, no art, no comics, no ads, no rates, no respect, no stickers, no gimmicks, no letters, no gossip, no interviews, no reviews, no typos, no logo, no design, no computers, no editors, no type, no pages.