If you’re landing on this post as a newcomer to The Lifeboat Station Project, I wish you a warm welcome. You can learn more about the context of the words you’re about to read via the links on the homepage and/or in the side drawer menu…
There’s something about this latest round of restrictions which has been particularly hard. I’m hearing it from all directions — from friends, loved ones and fellow creators.
After some 51 weeks of practicing what I preach — keeping on keepin’ on — it’s time to own up to the fact that I am now feeling ground down too.
My days are pretty well structured and I do what I can to keep myself well. I walk and cycle most days, I get out in the sun when it appears and I eat a balanced diet. I even drink very little alcohol — not a conscious decision, it’s just happened. When asking myself if I’d rather have a cup of tea or a drink drink, I’ve been naturally gravitating towards a cuppa in the spirit of self-preservation.
But this moderately wholesome approach to daily lockdown life doesn’t seem to have stopped my short-term memory from becoming foggy, my thoughts filling with static and my sleep being un-refreshing.
I’m finding it almost impossible to keep on top of my emails (sincere apologies if I owe you one) and I invariably notice throughout any given day that my forehead is soon cradled in the palms of my hands. Again.
As a friend put it recently when describing their own mood, I’m flatlining.
I know it is temporary and it will pass but, for the moment at least, there’s very little energy in the creative pot. Plenty of ideas, but very little spark to execute them.
And I need that spark, if only to stick to a personal rule of making my recordings, films and blog posts when I feel like making them. If I’m lacklustre in any way, experience has shown that it infiltrates the final piece. Unless contextually appropriate, I want to avoid that.
The Lifeboat Station Project is an enormously positive good news story and a source of inspiration to thousands of people. That’s how I would like it to stay, which, in turn becomes a pressure in itself when things aren’t going so well in my head and heart.
Ironically, this blog post is a shining example of the latter — I’m sure you can already sense my mood loud and clear — but I feel it’s one of those contextually appropriate occasions.
Although I feel like writing it, I didn’t plan to write this at all. The letters are just tumbling from my fingertips onto the screen. In fact, it was only half an hour ago that I felt driven to sit at my laptop and start tapping whilst sipping my first brew of the day.
Somehow, it feels important to share this with you and to crack open the armour of Jack Lowe and The Lifeboat Station Project once again, just as I did a few years ago.
Once finished, I’ll no doubt sit on it for a few hours and get gradually more nervous before clicking the Publish button.
But this stuff is just as important to share as the good bits. It’s all part and parcel of the project’s narrative. Another entry in the journal, a stamp on the timeline.
Yes, this state-of-mind could be down to the relentless bad weather we experienced through February and, yes, it could also be the shorter days and longer nights. The imminent arrival of Spring is certainly a comforting prospect and these feelings aren’t unusual at this time of year, are they?
That would all certainly be true of previous years but this time round, there’s no getting away from the fact that there is another dimension which has affected every single human on planet Earth: the pandemic.
It has changed the landscape beyond recognition, made it impossible to plan anything and, of course, it’s hit people’s income hard. The latter is true for me too. My sales have fallen off a cliff in recent weeks and it doesn’t take much to tip things the wrong way to a point where we’re living very hand-to-mouth as a family once again.
The latter is particularly demoralising after finally building up a good head of steam in 2019 (the fifth year of the project) only to have this new hurdle to surmount.
To be clear, there has been plenty of good to come out of the last year and at least we’re safe, well and here to tell the tale.
There has been a lot of reminiscing lately too, undoubtedly another contributing factor. It certainly feels strange that it’s very nearly a full year since I was last working on the coast, making all that beautiful work with all those wonderful people:
I’m incredibly proud and grateful that the number of members joining The LSP Society continues to grow but, as things stand, I need the shop sales to be on song too and/or for many new members to signup.
There was a point at the end of January when I was feeling quite jubilant because I’d made it to the end of a notoriously difficult month relatively unscathed. However, the ongoing restrictions of the last few weeks and months have highlighted that it doesn’t take long before years of hard work starts to unravel.
THE ROAD MAP
The burning question is when will I be able to return to the coast to make new work and visit those final 88 lifeboat stations on my journey?
I would head off at the drop of a hat, of course, but it isn’t all down to me. Quite the opposite.
Just because restrictions are gradually being lifted, that doesn’t mean it’s responsible — or safe — to drive a long way from home to several other coastal communities for a few weeks at a time.
It’s ultimately down to what’s safe and what’s not and that lies in the hands of the RNLI because I rely on their blessing to make this project.
With that in mind, I’ve been liaising with them over the last few days and we agree that September is the earliest and safest month we can consider.
We’ll touch base again in July to see how things are looking but one thing’s for certain — I will have to keep my fingers crossed that nothing much changes between now and then so that we can proceed with a September mission.
Furthermore, if I can hit the coast again in September, that will help to keep the project on track for its revised year of completion: 2024, the RNLI’s 200th anniversary.
If that can’t happen, then I’m looking down the barrel of waiting until March 2022 because of the practical restrictions with wet collodion, the 1851 photographic process I use to make my photographs.
In the meantime, my fundamental passion and vision for The Lifeboat Station Project is stronger than ever.
I have plenty of plans in the pipeline for growing and connecting the people who are rooting for me via The LSP Society. Those plans include a dedicated social platform and a periodic newspaper, both of which are already well on their way to fruition.
When the restrictions lift further, I’ll also pursue the creation of my giant posters once again. Indeed, Rescue Wooden Boats were so enamoured with their giant Lucy Lavers poster, that they’ve asked me to return in a few weeks’ time to put up a fresh one ready for the new season.
This is all good but, as you can see, the previous paragraphs are littered with ifs and buts.
WHY NOT APPLY FOR FUNDING?
That’s a question I’m often posed. But, rightly or wrongly, I have strong opinions on the topic within the context of my project. I shared some of those thoughts here earlier in the week.
In short, I’m stalwartly sticking by a very strong vision for funding my work: to create a sustainable, predictable income that isn’t based on serial flashes in the pan.
It’s a project about the people for the people, so:
“Is it really such a crackpot idea to keep working towards my vision of sustainable funding for creators: for projects to be funded by the people who follow them and whose lives are enriched by them in some way?
“After all, if people were interested in a topic ‘back in the day’, they wouldn’t have hesitated to buy a magazine from the newsagent. In fact they would have looked forward to it! So why not now?”
The LSP Society is the culmination of my vision for funding a project, which many thousands of people enjoy.
To be open about it, I dream of the final three years of this journey being completely sustained by the people who have committed to it via The LSP Society.
Any other print and shop sales would then be a bonus, the icing on the cake. To an extent, the latter will always be a seasonal and essentially unpredictable element to my income.
The Holy Grail for any independent creator is to work on their own terms with a predictable, sustainable income appropriate to the task in hand.
I’m aware that I’m not alone here and that so many of you reading this will be experiencing similar feelings. On that basis, I hope it’s helpful in some way and if you’d like to get anything off your chest, feel free to post a comment below.
And because so many people are feeling the pinch, I offer full membership to The LSP Society for just £1 per month for which you’ll receive instant unlimited access to the Members’ Area where there are all kinds of extra audio recordings, films and blog posts for you to enjoy.
You’ll also find yourself among a very special community of folk who’ve committed to the project because they believe in it just as much as I do.
Click/tap on this button to find out more:
or head to this page for all the ways to support the project:
Once again, I’m finding that I’m nervous about sharing these thoughts. It’s a public peek within the hull of The Lifeboat Station Project, this wonderful thing I’ve been building full-time for well over six years.
Thank you to everyone who has supported and continues to support me.
I’m off to make another cuppa and will look out for your thoughts and comments wherever they may land.
Cheerio for now, thank you for reading and, yes indeed, keep on keepin’ on,
Creator of The Lifeboat Station Project
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