Angela Clem, Angela Hicks and Calder Hudson began The Ogilvie in February 2017. At the end of the magazine’s first year, they took the opportunity to reflect on the past twelve months and to discuss their thoughts on the website.
The opinions expressed in this piece are those of the authors, who coincidentally are The Ogilvie’s entire staff.
Discussion: Reflecting on a Year at The Ogilvie
CH: So, we’re at the first anniversary of The Ogilvie–the Ogilversary, as it were. How are we all feeling about the magazine? Any particular highlights anyone wants to mention?
AH: Honestly, I’m still kind of impressed that The Ogilvie’s a thing. When Calder said that he wanted to start an online literary review, I mainly agreed because I thought it wouldn’t happen–I’d get friendship points without actually having to do anything. But then there was a site, and a Twitter page, and after that contributors–some of them even people we didn’t know. It’s been exciting to watch an idea become (virtual) reality.
AC: Exactly. I’ve never helped build something like this from the ground up. Like Angela Hicks (whom we lovingly refer to as Britangela so I can be Americangela), I was wary of putting too much hope in a project like this. But I’ve never been happier to be surprised.
CH: I’m shocked by your lack of faith, but, yeah, I get where you’re coming from. I was confident we could do this, but I didn’t anticipate the positive reception we’d receive. Before we launched, we hoped to start the website with five pieces, but we went live with nineteen, which was super motivating. Since then, we’ve got to watch the site gain momentum, which has been enormously rewarding too. Still, all that doubt from both of you is alarming; I may have to dock your pay for it.
AH: You don’t pay us.
CH: That’s neither here nor there.
AC: From a more personal point of view, working on The Ogilvie has also given me the opportunity to dabble in running a public social media page. It’s been fascinating to drive the social media bus, promoting our authors across digital platforms and helping them reach a larger audience.
CH: I couldn’t put it better myself; I wanted to start a magazine in large part because I knew a lot of talented people with a lot of drive who wanted a platform, and providing such a space for their work has been an absolute thrill. It’s been great to see both our contributors and our audience grow over the last twelve months. As Americangela says, being digital has really helped us on that front, so well done for doing such a great job with that, Americangela.
AC: Any other positives you’d like to mention, Britangela?
AH: I feel bad now; my highlight of the last year was going to be getting business cards. I feel so fancy and professional when I’m at a lit event and I can present someone with my card. But I guess helping people share/read amazing pieces has also been rewarding.
CH: [laughs] Yeah, on a less serious note, I’ve enjoyed getting to review TV shows for our workshop pieces. I don’t think it’s too much of a spoiler to reveal that our reviewing process is predominantly made up of drinking a lot of wine while arguing.
AH: Shh, trade secrets.
AC: On a new topic, does anyone want to talk about the more difficult parts of running The Ogilvie? Any things we hope to do differently this year?
CH: Managing the workload has been challenging at times. Outside The Ogilvie’s purview, we all work full-time, or near full-time, and it can be tough to balance work commitments with magazine commitments. We end up sacrificing sleep when we’re short on time. With that said, I don’t plan on changing my sleep schedule anytime soon–it’s well worth it.
AC: For me, the biggest difficulty has been the long-distance aspect. I moved back to the States just before we launched and the six-hour time difference has been a pain when scheduling meetings, as has imperfect video-calling technology. It would be nice if the whole team could sit down over coffee and discuss The Ogilvie, rather than parsing together what we can from lagging video and poor audio quality.
AH: True; I feel like a lot of our problems would be solved if Americangela moved back to Edinburgh. We just need to find a rich patron of the arts to sponsor her…
AC: We can hope.
CH: Let’s go back to the positives before we get too sad about our fragmented team. Another nice thing about running The Ogilvie is that it encourages me to keep creating–seeing the wonderful pieces from our contributors really motivates me to write. Is it the same for you guys? Do you have any ongoing writing projects?
AH: I tried to do National Novel Writing Month last November, writing a YA novel. Admittedly I was 10,000 words short, but I’m still further into a first draft than I’ve ever been before, which is exciting. I’d really like to complete that draft by the summer so that I can spend all of August going to Fringe shows (and Book Festival events) and not writing at all. Then, full of regret in September, I shall work extra hard all through the winter.
CH: My aim for 2018 is to start fewer projects and to complete more. In the past few months I’ve been reading a lot of nonfiction; possibly as a result of that, I’m currently working on some personal essay pieces. I’m really enjoying that mix of writing and reflecting, so it’s going well right now. I’m also doing a lot of editing currently and I’ve got some Ogilvie-specific stuff cooking which I shouldn’t mention just yet.
AC: I don’t have the same strong creative writing background as you guys, so with The Ogilvie I’ve mainly been excited to read and edit so many amazing pieces. Having said that, I’m often inspired by what our contributors submit, so maybe 2018 will see me stretching those creative writing muscles!
AH: You can do it! Go writing! And also go reading, because you’re right, that’s a great part of editing The Ogilvie–getting all those sneak-previews of pieces before we publish them. I’ve also found that editing an online magazine has encouraged me to read more stories online. Is the same true for you guys? Any non-Ogilvie pieces you read last year that like to recommend?
CH: I’ve always been big on digital, which may be obvious given The Ogilvie and all, but I think good stories are easier to find than ever these days thanks to digital publishing. My stand-out short story from last year was Cat Person by Kristen Roupenian; that probably isn’t a shocker, as it quickly accrued acclaim after it was published, but it absolutely deserves those accolades. I feel like it reflected a lot of the social and political climate of 2017, and it prompted and furthered many important discussions. The current hard-copy books I’m reading are by Robert Graves and Roxane Gay, and I’d recommend both of those authors too!
AC: One of my favourite creative non-fiction pieces that you can read online is The Things I’ve Lost by Brian Arundel. It’s not recent–I think it was published in 2006–but it’s a great essay which I can’t recommend enough. Its simple style weaves together themes of material, emotional, and abstract loss, inviting readers to pause after every item on the list to imagine what it was like to lose that thing. Just beautiful.
CH: How about you, Britangela–any pieces you’d like to mention?
AH: Well, both of your recommendations sound great, but I think we can all agree that one of the greatest pieces of online fiction ever was published last year and we do need to mention it: Harry Potter and the Portrait of What Looked Like a Large Pile of Ash.
CH: [laughs] True. I was going to go on to talk about what The Ogilvie’s planning on doing in 2018, but really I think that’s the perfect place to finish. All that’s left for us to say is thanks to everyone who’s helped make The Ogilvie happen over the last twelve months, whether it’s by contributing your work, or by reading the site, or by accepting business cards off us when we foist them on you. You are all amazing and the magazine wouldn’t exist without you!