Have you SEEn my words?

I want my words back.

I moved to Edmonton in 2003 and started writing professionally soon after. Grant Mac J-school helped…a little bit. Not as much as I thought, but enough. I was always more of a creative writer than a journalist,  but journalism was a trade that I could use to hone my writing skills. With that in mind, there was always Vue and See. Two creatively aimed entertainment publications that offered opportunities to writers in the Edmonton area. Now, I’m not a very good writer insofar as to say my grammar has always sucked. I would always aim for the imagery and metaphor over the ‘math’ of writing. This stopped me from getting the bigger jobs; I’m ok with this.

For several years before See Magazine was dissolved, I was writing for them. Under various editors who were fired or let go or asked to not work there anymore or who just moved on, I worked a lot. I wrote something called Edster’s Dictionary, an Edmonton centric dictionary of weirdness (which you can’t find on the internet). Also, I wrote movie reviews under the title of Shelf Life…which you also can’t find. I’ve interviewed Bruch McCulloch, Tegan and Sara, Chris Cornell, Andrew WK, Diamond Rings, The Reverend Horton Heat and a whole swack of others. I’m not bragging.  There is a point to this. When Vue consumed See and smote it’s remains upon the mountain top, it not only eradicated the print version, but the online version (EDIT* – Turns out this was out of the hands of Vue and was Great West Publications doing). I’ve tried to use The Way Back Machine but it only has a small handful of  my stories and writings. I found this out while trying to find writing jobs. While trying to prove to other magazines that I have written and didn’t just make it up for shits and giggles.

What is my point? Not much of one really, I’m writing more myself now;  for what I consider to be therapy. My point is that I want to have my old stories to put on my resume. All the reviews I did. The interviews. The creative work. The excitement and the ridiculous advertising that is considered ‘entertainment journalism’. I want to be able to see it. Because I wrote that fucking stuff. It came out of my brain cave. I ostensibly gave birth to it and cared for it. And well…someone just decided that it didn’t mean anything to anyone. Wasn’t worth the money I was given to do it. Or the time I spent. Or the frustration and joy it took to create.

If anyone has seen my words, please send them home to me. I miss them. I hope to someday let them know what they mean to me instead of just throwing them away as if they didn’t mean anything.

(EDIT2* – Just received an email from Paul Blinov at Vue. He assures me that they are doing their best to try to find the stories. He can’t guarantee anything but said if they do find them they will allow everyone access.)

10 Replies to “Have you SEEn my words?”

  1. So you didn’t keep any copies yourself? I had the same thing happen to me at see, but I am easily narcissistic enough to have kept hard copies of everything interesting that was published (Tom Green, Elvis Costello, Adam Egoyen). Didn’t you at least back them up in your computer? If not, you have to blame yourself. After all, didn’t you “throw them away as if they didn’t mean anything?” Tough-love. I offer this as a way for you to possibly move on if they are indeed gone. You seem to have a lot of anger at “them” which may be getting in your way. Great blog by the way.

  2. I had the same thing happened to me. Luckily, I was narcissistic enough to keep hard copies of all my interesting interviews. Did you not save your computer back ups? If not, you have to share some of the blame. After all, that means you “throw them away as if they didn’t mean anything.”I point this out not be callous, but to possibly help you get past this in case they are indeed lost. You seem to be holding a lot of anger against “them”, which I respectfully suggest may be getting in your way. Excellent blog though, incidentally. Except for your use of the wrong form of “it’s”. Although that could have been cleverly designed to underscore your immediately previous point that grammar is not your strong suit.

  3. Hey Trent/All understandably frustrated See writers,

    To set the record: when the merger happened, Vue wasn’t responsible for scorching the (digital) earth and eradicating See’s online archives. That was all the Great West Newspaper people. As far as I know, the library has physical records of all the old See magazines, but i’m not sure if there are any other possibilities.

  4. Edmonton Public as well as Rutherford U of A library both carry bound copies of every issue. I think they’re not available to check out, but a few laborious hours at the photocopier might do it.

  5. Trent: BIG thanks for speaking up on this. I wrote for SEE in 2010 and got to do enlightening interviews and promote artists and businesses that I respected. I took off to Toronto at the end of 2010 – fast forward to last year and I’m applying for freelance gigs and reading tips on how to make it simple for media companies to access your portfolio and I go to find the link to the archive of my SEE articles and it’s all gone. Not just harder to find – GONE. I felt oddly lost. You, and others, had a far greater output for SEE and for a longer period, so I can only imagine your frustration. Yes, writers need to back up their stuff (I did) but it still doesn’t look good when I tell people I wrote for a publication that existed in print and online and there is no evidence of it short of me re-posting the articles and pictures (which I can and will do) or scanning them (which doesn’t look great). It’s the online era: people hiring you expect efficient access to your written work. Furthermore, the same people I profiled relied on the material I produced: savvy Fringe performers had posted links to my favourable reviews on their own websites, and the dead links made them look bad too.

    I think the real concern, though, is the disappearance of all of the content from public record. I understand that it costs money to maintain an online archive, but the SEE archive is a resource for Edmontonian, Albertan and Canadian culture, and its deletion is a loss for all of us. SEE hired some phenomenal political and cultural commentators during its run, and their reportage and opinions should be accessible. I know lots of academic researchers out here that are publishing on Western Canadian topics – from theatre companies to oilsands protests – and it’s hard enough to get grants to spend time in legitimate historical archives, let alone go to Rutherford or Edmonton Public (with all due respect). I am curious to know what the options might be to get SEE indexed through a database like Canadian Periodicals Index Quarterly or just archived through a paid subscription site, if that’s what it takes.

    I’ll stop here – but my mind is running full speed and if any momentum comes from this blog – and it looks like it has – count me in on the list of supporters. And remind me to buy you a beer in Edmonton next time I get me one of those travel grants.

  6. Trent, I have a bunch of print quality pdf documents of various issues from 2009-2010. If you are interested, shoot me an email and I can let you know what specific issues I have.

  7. Hi Trent:
    When I was at SEE I tried to ensure all of our stories were archived by FP Informart, which you can access if you go through the Edmonton Public Library. I can’t say for sure my efforts were entirely successful, but it might be a good place to start your online search, I know quite a bit of stuff made it.
    Good luck,

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