The Difficult Second Issue

12th February 2013

I wake up in a cheap hotel somewhere in India. It’s charmless, and cleaner than most of the places we’ve stayed. I could describe the city in the same way – our hotel is by the Government Law College and a shopping mall with a 3D cinema. Yesterday I saw an elephant chained up in a coach park, it was the first Indian elephant I had seen and would turn out to be the closest I ever got to one.

Laura and I shower, lather ourselves in factor 30 and mosquito repellent, and head out. We stop for breakfast at a canteen with Wi-Fi and an LCD television mounted to the wall which plays a loop of adverts for local businesses. I order a boiled-egg curry, two parathas and black coffee. Laura orders something healthy. I check my Blackberry:

Date: Fri, 8 Feb 2013
Subject: Lighthouse is go.
From: Andrew McDonnell
To: me, Laura Elliott, Julia Webb, Philip Langeskov, Anna De Vaul, Meirion Jordan

Hi everyone,

Biddells recieved the MS yesterday for Lighthouse #1. It now has its very own ISBN number!

It’s created a lot of to-ing and fro-ing and last minute adjustments but essentially it’s done and dusted…

For issue #2, I propose that Anna and Julia should be lead editors, which means writing the features or commissioning people to write features. It will also mean deciding on an editorial, which could be very exciting. Perhaps you guys could meet late feb to have a chat about ideas? We would look to publish in Late June / early July, which means a deadline of end of May for all content.

Really excited about issue #1. I printed it off, folded it and put the cover on. It’s a bloody good read.

Love to all and thanks for all your hardwork. THIS IS HAPPENING !!!


Lighthouse Issue 1 PRESS.pdf 8034K View Download

There’s a picture of it on Facebook and I write in my diary that I wish I could hold a physical copy. In the evening I drink lots of cheap rum and read the first issue cover to cover on the tiny screen of my phone. This is how it is to build something from nothing and be half-way across the world when it becomes an actual thing in the actual world.

19th April 2013

I wake up under a fleece in a wood-panelled room somewhere in India. I step out on to the balcony. There are children throwing stones at puppies in the orchard below, which is blossoming and full of butterflies, and higher, pine forests lead the eye to the Himalayas. The weather is positively British.

Laura and I shower, smother our faces in factor 30 and head out. We stop for breakfast at a canteen with plastic tables, chairs and windows. I order an omelette sandwich with plastic cheese and ketchup and a black coffee. Laura has chai and a cigarette.

We head down the road to an internet café. We have become regulars there but the town is so small you become a regular everywhere by proxy. We are there for hours reading through the Lighthouse submissions inbox: eventually we consolidate our selections into an email which will take our place at the final editorial meeting for issue two. This is how it is to edit a journal from half-way around the world.

17th June 2013

I wake up in the room where I wasted my teenage years smoking marijuana and watching videos of 1970s British wrestling. There is a proper bed now and carpet, my posters are gone and it’s been painted a colour I wouldn’t have chosen. I’ve developed the habit of checking my messages before getting out of bed. This is because I use my Blackberry as an alarm clock.


There is only gluten-free cereal in for breakfast and the milk is gone. I make an espresso with my father’s new coffee machine which I berated him for buying because it’s a Nestlé product. I switch on the news and struggle to follow a discussion about why our economy is still in a dire situation. I switch it off and call the Job Centre to ask how to sign on. This is how it is to come back to your country with nothing going for you except a voluntary position at a fledgling new literary journal.

22nd July 2013

I wake up in my small flat somewhere in Norwich, with a feeling just shy of a hangover acting as a reminder of the great reading I went to the previous night in the east-London neighbourhood I’ll be moving to at the end of the summer. Laura makes something amazing with eggs and tomatoes and spices. The radio tells us that the Duchess of Cambridge has gone into labour. I check my emails while the kettle is boiling.

Date: Mon, 22 Jul 2013
Subject: Issue 2
From: Andrew McDonnell
To: me, Laura Elliott, Julia Webb, Philip Langeskov, Anna De Vaul, Meirion Jordan

It’s landed. At tom’s (arrgh!). Picking up tomorrow…

I go back through the chain of emails. There had been a lot of panic: words like ‘to be perfectly honest’ and ‘well frankly’ were used. We had butted heads over what kind of a printer we need, what kind of a relationship we need to foster with them and whether Lighthouse and Gatehouse Press actually need to use the same printers at all. All of it now irrelevant. There’s nothing on my schedule today except reading somewhere outdoors with wine and sun. This is what it is when it all pays off.