37 monuments in 30 days, and what I learned along the way.
Thursday 29 December 2016
December has just been insane. I feel as though I’ve been fired out of a cannon. I have several new projects taking off, tour bookings starting to fill up for 2017, and plans falling into place for some exciting trips in the coming months.
With the amount I’ve got on my plate at the moment, I think this editorial is going to be as much for my benefit as it is for yours – giving me a chance to organise my thoughts, and review progress on a few different fronts.
Alright, here we go…
After sitting on a back burner for most of the year, my Buzludzha website is finally finished and live.
For those not familiar with the project, the Buzludzha Monument is that vast, abandoned flying saucer thing on top of a Bulgarian mountain. It has been abandoned since 1989, and due to its communist associations its very existence has become a kind of political and social taboo.
One young Bulgarian architect is intent on renovating it though, and developing the site into a museum of Bulgarian history. Up until now, her website has only been available in Bulgarian – so I took it upon myself to make an English version, and introduce her project to the world.
Here’s the result: Buzludzha-Monument.com
Yugoslav Memorial Tour
I am already running tours of Bulgarian monuments… so after I posted that article back in September about the monuments of Former Yugoslavia, I think a lot of people probably guessed where this was going.
Well, after many late nights of playing around with maps, emails back and forth with bus companies and a whole load of hotel quotes (not to mention my month-long research trip back in April, obviously), my Yugoslav Memorial Tour is finally ready to launch.
As ever, I’m happy to offer a discount to all of my Patreon supporters.
Get in touch if you want to talk about it, or read more about the tour here: Yugoslav Memorial Tour
My third major project for December has been the launch of my forthcoming graphic novel, Rasputina. This is a big one for me, and something that I’ve been planning for a very long time. It feels surreal to finally see it taking shape… and exciting to be able to share it with others, after it existed for so long only in my imagination. Diana Naneva, the illustrator, is really quite brilliant – and before I got talking to her this whole thing was simply an impossible dream.
Tomorrow, 30th December 2016, marks the 100-year anniversary of Rasputin’s death. So that has been our target launch date – to have as much material ready as possible in time for the centenary. Rather than progressing in a linear fashion (page 1, page 2, page 3, and so on) we’ve skipped ahead to illustrate some of the more dramatic scenes to come; and for now we’ve focussed specifically on Rasputin, rather than his daughter, who’ll actually be the protagonist of the story we’re telling.
You can see what we’ve got so far on the new website, here: Rasputina.net
Much like this website, I’ve set up a Patreon page for the Rasputina project, complete with an exclusive, supporters-only blog. But as patrons, I don’t want you to feel like I’m raising funds on this blog, only to put my time into creating content for the other site instead. That wouldn’t be fair.
I don’t see these as separate entities, and I don’t see your support as tying you to the rewards associated with one project or another. If you’re helping me, you’re helping me. For that reason, I’m planning to give all my $5+ sponsors on The Bohemian Blog free access to the Rasputina blog as well. Watch out for the password in my Patreon stream.
Remember that book I was writing about communist-era monuments in Bulgaria? Well, it’s not forgotten. The truth is, pitching this book to publishers has proved more difficult than I ever anticipated. The problem is it’s long, it’s heavy, and it goes into extreme depth discussing the history of a country that a lot of people don’t know the first thing about. I’m pitching my Bulgarian historical epic to editors sat in an office in London or New York, who might not even be able to find Bulgaria on a map. Getting them to engage with the subject has not been easy.
In retrospect, I would probably have had a lot more success if I’d made it more sensational. A title like ‘The 100 Most Incredible Communist Monuments in the World‘ would likely have been a massive hit, and got picked up a whole lot faster. But that’s not what I’m about.
For now at least, the book is sleeping. Other projects have taken the lead. But as time goes by, I’m learning that my work tends to do much better when I go direct to my audience. The success of my tours, of using Patreon and the blog itself, all suggest that perhaps I ought to consider cutting out the middleman.
And so, early in the New Year I think I’ll try launching a Kickstarter project to self-publish Eternal Glory.
(More on this story as it develops!)
Let’s Have a Vote…
We haven’t had a vote for a while. That last article I published, on Freemasonry in Cuba, was the result of a vote – and I think it’s probably time for another one.
So here are three potential options. Leave a comment or send me a message, and tell me which you’re most excited about.
Have you been enjoying these photographs, by the way? I took a brief festive break from all the work, and had a walk along the waterfront in Varna, Bulgaria. There’s some wonderful modernist architecture in this city – perhaps I’ll write a post about it some day. (Aside from Rasputin and the two monuments, you can consider the other five photos on this page an early preview.)
In the meantime though, my next big trip is already planned. I’ll be flying to Istanbul on 4th January for an overnight stop, and then on to Belarus! Lately I have mostly been too busy to think about it, but the excitement is just starting to set in now. Belarus is a whole new country for me, and I can’t wait to go exploring it in the January snow… yes, I’m sure it’ll be cold, but I’m hoping it’ll be great for photography.
Anyway – I wish you all the best for the holiday season. I’m indebted to you all for the ongoing support over this last year, and I look forward to sharing more stories with you in 2017.
The Exclusion Zone.
The Bohemian Blog is bigger than it looks. In fact, there’s a whole restricted area hidden away behind the public pages… a space where patrons of the site can access exclusive content, book previews and private image galleries. It’s called The Exclusion Zone. Just sponsor me the equivalent of a cup of coffee for each new article I post, and I’ll send you the password. Check out my page on Patreon to find out more about the perks of getting involved.