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Friday, 05 April 2013 16:50

Too much, too soon: A manifesto for early retirement

Sometimes I think that I tried to do too much, too soon in my life. I kind of managed to get a bunch of things done during my twenties (sayonara, my absolutely-not-wasted-at-all youth!), but my energy and focus are shifting. Now I've only got the 'too much'; the 'too soon' is long gone.

I never imagined that I might see the day when I not only had to pen an eleventh editorial for a digital edition of ITCH, but when this little publication would no longer be an independent creative magazine but the "creative expression journal" of the School of Literature, Language and Media (SLLM) at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. Look who's all grown up. Not just little old ITCH – me, too. I have high hopes for this new chapter in ITCH's life. It's a small step; it's a giant leap. This small, creative journal that was once produced through the efforts of mainly just little old me (with indispensable help from other wonderful persons – Hein! Karen! Li! Vuyo! Karina! – from time to time) has now become an official creative journal of one of the best Universities in South Africa.

I have mixed feelings about this. The most prominent emotion that comes up is one of pride. Wow. A group of serious and impressive academics in the fields of literature, language and media agreed that the reputation of ITCH, its scope and network, made it worth adopting. All that hard work, those long solo hours editing, curating and uploading, has certainly paid off. I'm so pleased: ITCH will now continue to exist, with or without me. Without me? What? That's right.... This new chapter means that I am no longer absolutely needed. Sometimes this makes me feel sad. Separation anxiety. A loss of agency. Even though I want to move on with my career and make space for others to shape and reshape this publication, it sometimes feels hard to let go. Hard, but not impossible. It's a little emotional, but it's for the best. Its time for ITCH to go and be a grown up out there in the world, and this new guardian – in the form of a brilliant and accomplished editorial board and the institutional recognition and support from Wits' SLLM – will provide the kind of input and networking that I could never manage all on my own, and which to be honest, I just don't have the energy for any longer.

Here is a little dose of realism: a big university like Wits is a bit like an oil tanker. It takes time for such a huge ship to turn. It can't make quick and sudden maneuvers. It is very likely that as ITCH is absorbed into the institutional culture of the university, it will take a little time to adjust to new processes of communication and production. So please remember this, and please bear with us as we develop our new systems and modes of communicating with contributors and readers. I have no doubt that with each issue, the new-fangled ITCH will improve not only in terms of the scope of each edition's content, but in the ways that we do things. Any member of the editorial board will welcome any feedback or suggestions that you might have. This first edition published by the SLLM is a first step to what I believe will become a brilliant future. It has taken a lot of effort and collaboration in order to create this new, more flexible, digital platform for the magazine. It has not been easy to transfer all of the archival material from the old site architecture to the new. Some things might not have come across very smoothly. We are very likely to find a few glitches that need fixing. We will smoothen and we will fix as we go along. If there is something we need to know about, tell us. We are committed to doing whatever we need to do in order to ensure that all of the archival content is properly represented in such a way as to do justice to all past ITCH contributors.

Stepping aside as ITCH editor (even though I will remain on the editorial board) has been a long time coming. I believe that I have learned everything I can possibly learn from ITCH. For ten years, I have been involved in conceptualizing, communicating, editing, pulling together and publishing five paper, and ten digital issues of ITCH (well, eleven if you count this one). It has been awesome, in the very literal sense of the word. But I have other projects to which I want to devote my time and intellectual energy. It is time now for fresh blood to take over and make ITCH something new. It is time for ITCH to serve as a platform for other young, creative people to learn things about creative, independent publishing by doing them. If you would like to get involved in ITCH – especially if you are a Wits student – don't hesitate to get in touch. We would love to hear from you. The extent to which you can get involved is in direct proportion to the energy you have to share.

My days at the helm of the zippy, but often leaking, little speedboat that was ITCH are now over. Now we have a bigger, more stable and better-resourced ship. We have some marvelous ideas for the voyages that we plan to take in the years ahead, and we invite you to come along on those journeys. I'm taking early retirement as captain. Now I'm just a member of the crew, who will sometimes be scrubbing the deck, but mostly will be cheering while other members of the editorial team chart the waters and set sail. ONWARD!
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Mehita Iqani

I am a member of the ITCH Editorial Board. I have been involved in ITCH since 2003, when I started the publication. I have a PhD in Media Studies from the London School of Economics and Political Sciences. I am currently a Senior Lecturer in Media Studies in the School of Literature, Language and Media at the University of the Witwatersrand.

Website: www.wits.ac.za/staff/mehita.iqani

1 comment

  • Comment Link Judy Croome Tuesday, 07 May 2013 17:47 posted by Judy Croome

    With apologies to the Bard, Mehita,love's labours are never lost - and as you watch with that mix of pride and sadness as your creative baby grows up, know that for as long as Wits is around, the niche you carved for the magazine you created (with both love and hard labour)will forever keep part of you alive ... what a wonderful legacy as you move onto pastures new. Good luck to you and good luck to the editorial board of the new Itch.

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