Monday, July 8, 2024



Hello friends,

I owe you an apology.

Last time I wrote to you, I breezily promised it would be the first of monthly updates through 2024. And then...nothing!

I'm not so self-important as to imagine anyone's been crying into their inboxes wondering where the emails from me have gone (!) But I certainly don't take for granted anyone who's been kind enough to entrust me with their email address, so I wanted to explain where I've been.

And more importantly, what's coming next for this newsletter.

The short answer is, I started playing in the Substack playground.

My publication on Substack is called 'Meandering Over the Pebbles' (you can read why I chose that name here).

And over the past 6 months, I've written a handful of standalone posts as well what I'm calling my 'Weekly Meanders' - updates from my week just gone with a focus on what I'm doing workwise, from screening 'The Atom: A Love Affair' and developing new film ideas to (so far, I have to confess, not very successfully!) working on my new life stories business.

Here are a few examples:

Happy Birthday, Mr Nader

Weekly Meander #12: The productivity paradox

Weekly Meander #16: Comparison (or, am I still a filmmaker?)

And honestly, I've been having such a good time over there I've decided to go all in and make it the main hub for my online life...

What this means is that over the next couple of weeks I'll be porting this mailing list over to Substack - and using it as my main way of keeping in touch from now on.

From your point of view, nothing will change - you'll still get my messages delivered straight to your inbox just as you do now.

But... if you'd rather not keep hearing from me, you can absolutely just unsubscribe now and I won't transfer your email across. I may still use this original list to make one-off, big announcements (eg a new film, a new launch for the life stories business) but these will be very occasional.

Just click here and I'll take you off the list for the move over to Substack - there's no hard feelings at all and I'm just happy & thankful to have had you along for the ride up to this point.

Hopefully though you will want to stick around - in which case all you need to do is sit tight while I tinker under the bonnet.

I've got loads of exciting plans for my new online home, including:

  • a forthcoming nuclear-themed interview series

  • an atomic movie club 

  • an ongoing strand based on an A to Z rundown of my favourite feature documentaries 

Plus I'm now developing a new short documentary with the wonderful nuclear novelist Philippa Holloway, whom you'll hopefully remember from the online in-conversation event I organised with her last summer. And Substack will be the place to hear about that as it progresses over the second half of this year.

But at this point, I imagine you may be asking...

What even is Substack anyway?

I know I've mentioned it once or twice before - but I've also become increasingly aware from talking to people that it is still a relatively unknown platform. So I thought I'd do a little primer for you.

At its heart, Substack combines the functionality of a standard mailing list platform that delivers emails straight to your inbox (like Mailchimp, where this newsletter is currently hosted) with that of an old-style blogging platform, where every post remains live online and available to read at any time into the future.

But on top of that, it also has features you might recognise from other social media spaces: Substack Notes which is a little like Twitter; audio for podcasts, narrated versions of posts or voice notes to subscribers; and most recently video, offering options akin to YouTube, Instagram or TikTok. And it offers the possibility of hosting online communities through things like group video calls and private chat threads.

Plus, there's one more crucial difference compared with Facebook and the rest - there are no ads on Substack

The platform makes its money by taking a small cut from paid subscriptions from writers who offer them, usually in return for some extra paywalled content. There are big name journalists and novelists now writing on Substack who have hundreds of paying subscribers - out of many thousands of free subscribers - who are making a genuinely good living out of the platform (though, obviously, I'm not in this category 😄)

What this means is an interface that's visually pared down and strikingly calm compared with the usual algorithmic overload. And a reading experience that encourages the time and space to settle in with longer newsletters rather than the blur of the scroll, with its constant interruptions from unrelated posts butting in and trying to sell you stuff.

Here's a fancy infographic which I think sums it all up pretty well:

Of course all I will be doing is moving your existing subscription to my newsletter over there.

But if you're interest is piqued I would definitely invite you to head to the Substack website or download the app and have a look around - there's some great writing there and a lovely, supportive community feel in the comments and other social features, which I've rarely experienced online elsewhere in recent years.

Anyway, I've probably wittered on for quite long enough now. Long story short, if you'd still like to get my emails delivered to your inbox like always, there's absolutely nothing you need to do.

But if you'd rather duck out at this point, that's totally cool too. And here's the button for you again.

A little animation treat for you

Lastly I just wanted to share a great animated short I watched this week. I've missed sharing my favourite watch recommendations in these newsletters (and I've not actually been doing it on Substack either - note to self, should start doing this again ) so this is a little filmic gift from me to you to make amends. I hope you like it!

'The Burden' is a bizarre, darkly funny, apocalyptic Swedish animated musical - featuring a variety of animals singing and dancing in depressing late-capitalism locales.

It's weird but kind of amazing.

Do check it out and see what you think (and maybe hit reply to tell me if you feel like it? I know I always say it, but it genuinely is lovely to hear from you!) Here's the link:

And that's it. If I've worked out the process properly the next message you get from me should be a welcome email via Substack (unless you're unsubscribing now or have already subscribed to Substack before this point - in which case BIG THANKS and sorry for preaching to the converted!)

I'm really looking forward to hanging out with you again after this longish break in my swanky new online home - it's gonna be a good time I'm sure of it. See you there!

With love and grateful thanks as always,

Vicki x 

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