• PN

Guided by a Pole Star

While browsing a favourite magazine purveyor in Sydney, I was drawn to a travel publication called Lodestars Anthology. Given the name was unusual, I was later curious about the meaning and out of pure habit searched the term ‘Lodestar’ to find out. It's something I’ve done since I was a kid, when I didn’t know the meaning of a word my parents would direct me to a giant Oxford Dictionary to find out which became easier when I learned how to spell. In this case it proved useful as I discovered a connection to Pointing North that I wouldn’t have otherwise. I found that the definition of Lodestar is ‘a star used to guide the course of a ship, especially the Pole Star.’ Which then posed the question, what the fuck is a Pole Star? The answer of which left me speechless.

It is a bright star seen in the northern part of the world when one looks directly north. In essence, when guided by the Pole Star one will always be Pointing North.

Lodestar Anthology is an independent travel magazine, and yet the term magazine doesn’t quite do it justice as it is a clear passion project. Focusing on one country per issue, the well-stocked pages are laden with unique illustrations, stunning photography and inspired recounts of travellers. All things considered, it was unsurprising to learn that 'Lodestar' also means to inspire as after reading the ‘France’ edition I experienced a strong desire to delve into something quintessentially French. Embarking on a somewhat audacious endeavour to make the 'perfect croissant' after watching a Masterclass tutorial with Dominique Ansel. Which was shortly lived as he revealed it would take five days and was a life-long commitment to achieve perfection. I felt Ansel was coming on a little strong for a casual baking endeavour and decided to buy a croissant from a local patisserie instead.

Breaking open the pastry I ignored the flakes falling to the floor, more interested in the 'Honeycomb Affect’ in the centre that Ansel described. Taking a bite I munched in contemplation as I analysed whether the yeast was properly activated. And yet, I couldn’t help but wonder whether my determination was necessary considering I couldn’t make them myself. As I experienced a bout of 'Imposter Syndrome' I remembered what the Editor of Lodestars Magazine, Liz Schaffer had said about self-doubt in that it can be re-directed as a means of motivation. Undoubtedly there are budding pastry chefs out there right now using it as catalyst to distinguish themselves as Ansel's true protégé.

In Conversation with Liz Schaffer

Editor & Creative Director of Lodestars Anthology.

What did you do before Lodestars Anthology?

Before launching Lodestars Anthology, I worked as a freelance travel writer and photographer. In fact, I moved from Sydney to London after graduating to do just that. I felt that on the indie front, at the time, there was more happening here - more publications, more support, more chance of print surviving. It's been so wonderful to travel back to Sydney over the years and see just how far the indie magazine world has come; a lovely reminder that, globally, print is here to stay.

What motivated you to create a publication of your own?

Looking back, it was always something I wanted to do (oh the power of hindsight). There was always a desire to tell a deeper, slower story. To avoid 'lists' and 'must dos ' and instead spend the time delving into a country's character - looking at the art, history, food, characters, landscapes, everything really. The aim was to very much capture the essence of a place. At the time, I didn't feel like anyone else was doing this, dedicating an entire magazine to a single country - so felt that launching my own title was my only choice. I'd also crossed paths with so many amazing writers, photographers and illustrators as a freelancer, and I was excited to be able to offer them a platform, to collaborate. Working with those who share your passion is an absolute joy.

What were the pivotal moments that led to Lodestars Anthology going to print?

Gosh, it's so funny looking back - the journey to first going to print now seems so hazy! Probably because the process back then was so utterly bonkers. I like to think that 13 issues, a book and two reprints later, it is a smoother process ... it's not! With issue 1, it all happened so fast, I was terrified of losing momentum. I think the pivotal moments have happened since that first issue came out, as it was very much a case of learning on the job, perfecting the publication issue to issue, growing organically. Overall, the greatest moments for me have been meeting new contributors. I am constantly blown away by people's talent and drive - it makes me want to be better, but also makes new stories, angles, designs and projects possible.

Many creatives experience ‘Impostor Syndrome,’ which you mentioned has been something you have also experienced. At what points in your career has this feeling been most paramount and how did you push through it?

Oh Imposter Syndrome, that old, annoying, unwelcome chestnut! I still have bouts of it but I try to use that energy (I tend to call it fear) if I can. I can sometimes use it as motivation - that desire to prove my doubts wrong, to prove that I know what I'm doing, that I can curate something beautiful. Talking to others also really helps. For so long I thought I was the only one feeling intimidated, like I didn't have the right to do what I do. To realise that so many are plagued by these thoughts normalises it, makes you feel less alone, means that you can overcome it. Be open with your feelings, talk, and take the time to look back over what you have created and admire the creative journey you have gone on. Yes, there is much to do and even more to prove ... but just look at all the work you've put into it!

In self-isolation we're being forced to turn inward. This may be an opportune time for many people to explore their creative interests and hobbies, do you have any advice for those who want to start but don't know where to begin?

The best thing I can say is to simply do it! If there has been an idea bubbling away, go for it. Think it through .... but also don't - think too much and you panic, worry if it's perfect, if you're allowed. Act on your passion. Once something has started, then you can take the time to mull it over, edit it, consider exactly what you want it to be. If you take the first step, have something tangible, momentum will take hold and things will start to feel wonderfully real.


The latest issue of Lodestars Anthology, 'Mexico’ can be ordered online here or if you’re a Sydney local I know Journals stocked it as well!

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