Was reading Writing Magazine yesterday (yes - the very issue that features my article Catching Them Young on pages 60 - 61, on sale now at W H Smith), when I came upon this article. It was only a short piece, a couple of paragraphs long (and typically - glancing back through the magazine, I cannot now find it anywhere) but I am going to try it because it is so simple. I don't know about you, but I have dabbled in some self-publishing. It is now becoming more and more acceptable for authors to fund their own work (and actually, when you think of it, aspiring musicians have done so for years) and one of my early poetry collections sold so well it went to new print runs for three years running!
Over the past couple of years, my poetry has taken something of a back seat, really. I was checking tonight and there is no getting away from the fact that, over the years, I have had a fair amount published in various magazines and anthologies, some of which have won prizes and some of which led to my being asked to do talks. I have been very lucky. I know that. But then two years ago, I wrote The Book. This was my first serious foray into books for some time (with the exception of the Yucketypoo books) and, because it is about what I love and know best in the whole wide world (ie. Writing), it became my focus. Then, the chance to run Addiscombe Young Writers presented itself and, apart from the odd poem here and there (like the ad-hoc one I included in this very blog just a few months back, surprising myself as well as anyone reading it), I have not done much. Most recently of course came The Article (did I tell you it is in the September issue of Writing Magazine on pages 60 and 61, on sale now at W H Smith?) and then The Epic - both of which demanded my full attention.
Now - and here's the rub - I have got notebooks and folders and box-files full of unpublished poetry, all of it tucked away and forgotten and dying from lack of sunshine like the orchid was in my kitchen. But then I moved the orchid to the hallway and - guess what - it began re-flowering and has five heads this year, its most ever! So - metaphorically, as I was giving my tiny study its annual clear out this evening - I took all those poems out of the dark and - guess what -they burst into colour again! Then I remembered that short piece I read in WM just yesterday and the suggestion was this: design a document on the laptop where you can lay out a number of poems so they look interesting, then, when you are happy with it, print off copies yourself and give them to places like libraries and coffee shops so that people can read them at their leisure, free and gratis. Not only does this give your work some valuable exposure, it gives you - the writer/poet - a huge a confidence boost. okay - so you don't get paid. But you get read and that is over half the battle won! I have now got several dozen copies of a collection of haiku (entitled Breathing) just waiting to be distributed to a few carefully chosen local venues and SIMPLES! I am a poet again.
So I am very grateful to the author of that short piece in the September WM (not the article on pages 60 and 61 - something about setting up a writing group somewhere) because that person spurred me on to start taking my destiny back into my own hands again. And who know where it could lead this time ...!