Apparently we both know if what we are writing is SciFi, but Fantasy is trickier to pin down.
As part of our Arachne 5th Anniversary celebrations, we’ve asked all of our authors to come up with a blog, that might have something to do with writing or anniversaries. Some of them responded! This one is from Paula Read whose work we published in Stations
The publication by Arachne Press of my two stories in Stations back in 2012 was a significant moment for me. I’ve made my living as a journalist and teacher, so writing has always been essential to those roles. I continued to squeeze imaginative writing into this life and, like most aspiring writers, had folders full of half-finished novels and abandoned stories.
Publication by Arachne, however, changed everything. It signalled that I could write a story that someone else would want to read. It signalled that I should be serious about writing for publication. It signalled potential.
But I realized I needed help – and deadlines. I signed up for a creative writing MA, with a non-fiction book in mind, and with time to devote to it. I am about to start my second year, with many thousands of words still to write – and I am having the time of my life.
A huge thank-you, therefore, to Arachne for the part it has played. Without Arachne’s founder Cherry Potts and her decision to publish my stories, I should not now be able to say the following: I expect to finish my book, the story of my cousin’s eventful move to a mountain top in Italy, by the end of 2018. Look out for The Hazelnut Grove by Paula Read.
As part of our Arachne 5th Anniversary celebrations, we’ve asked all of our authors to come up with a blog, that might have something to do with writing or anniversaries. Some of them responded! This one is from Joan Leotta who we published in Shortest Day, Longest Night
Why I Write!
Let me say, before we even begin, I write a variety of genres, lengths etc. I’m a journalist, business writer, author of woman’s fiction (four book historical fiction series, Legacy of Honor), author of children’s books (four are out, latest is Rosa’s Shell), essayist, short story aficionado and practitioner, and poet. Poetry is the most personal thing I write.
Why I write and why I seek publication are not exactly the same thing. I write because I am compelled to put on paper my ideas—to help me think through things, to help me understand what is in my heart. Writing is both a gift and a compulsion. I seek to publish my writing to serve others with my gift.
Even when I write something personal, confessional, and grief stricken, such as the poetry that deals with the loss of our son, if I seek to publish it, I review my work and then revise with an audience in mind. What do I want them to feel, to know? Do I want to make them suffer? No!!!! I want them to understand what grief does to a person so they can be of assistance to a person who grieves to help them in their grief by knowing others are there on the same path…
Tolstoy says that writing is a transfer of emotion form one person to another. Even when I transfer sadness, anger, I want it to lift my reader to a place of hope or at least understanding.
Writing is my gift, but it only enriches me when I share. When a piece is rejected, I feel it has not found its right audience, or is not yet ready for an audience and I revise and/or file, and send it out again.
Unlike stage work where at the end of a performance I can bask in the love of applause, writing like mine garners few appreciative letters or emails, but when it is published, I do at least know it has touched the heart of an editor! So, thank you, editors and readers for participating in my writing process by giving it audience. I write for you.
Come on writers, you’ve got two days left to send in something wintery for The Story Sessions deadline 4th January. If you need some inspiration have a look at the videos from Solstice Shorts. Story or poem under 2000 words. Must be to theme.
We have a small budget for travel expenses so you can get to us to read on Wednesday 18th January 7pm, at The Brockley Deli 14a Brockley Cross SE4 1BE
We video/ audio record the performances so that there is a (small) chance of world-wide reknown, not just the SE London crowd who turn up on the night, and its an opportunity to give your calling card to us as publishers. We have a resident actor to read for you if it’s too far for you to come, although we only do a maximum of 2 stories/poems that way.
I’m a writer as well as a publisher, and when I had my first work published I was dreadfully naïve and thought the books would sell themselves.
After all, I’d written it, and someone liked it enough to publish – my work was done!
Now, three books in, and running my own micro-publishing company I am a bit wiser and a heck of a lot more cynical.
The statistics on the number of books published every year don’t bear thinking about – how on earth can you get noticed? Especially if you haven’t been snapped up in a bidding war between the big publishing companies who have an army of publicists on their payroll?
You have to be prepared to get into the limelight and tell the world how fantastic and fascinating your writing is, and what a wonderful charming person you are.
I know. You’d sooner walk across hot coals and sell your child/cat into slavery.
Well, nonetheless, the books don’t sell themselves, and being prepared to get out there and meet the public in all their various guises really helps, whether that is in person, touring your work round bookshops and libraries, or setting up a blog, or being interviewed on your local radio station. THIS is how books become word of mouth best-sellers.
I have cast iron evidence. My first book hardly sold at all, because I was too frightened to do the publicity my publisher wanted from me. The second book pretty much sold out because I did it anyway, fear not withstanding… and I ENJOYED it. (not a lot, but it was bearable and I discovered I LIKE talking about my writing.)
The popular image of the writer, secluded in her attic/ the library with her notebooks, gazing at the view from her window or the riveting ancient text that has inspired her work, is desperately out of date, but some of us (me included) would MUCH rather be doing that, than spending time on Facebook/ Twitter/ Tumblr/ Whatever, inviting people to make contact and talk about their work and READ it, and the idea of facing a microphone or camera and having to SPEAK…
How to cope? Why would you want to?
How I did it is: I thought about who I needed to be, and in what circumstances I can pull that off, and I wrote myself a character who is the relatively thick-skinned, witty, charming, outgoing person, I can be when I’m really comfortable, and I put her on, coat-like when I need her. She’s been really useful for my publishing face too.
That doesn’t help with the white noise that hits when I’m asked a (to me) stupid question live on air. What does help is preparation. Interviews are fairly predictable, you will almost always be asked – what do you write/ where do your ideas come from/ what’s this book about? Although you might want to respond – haven’t you read it? Your interviewer is actually trying to help – the viewer/listener/reader hasn’t read your wonderful scintillating work, and the interviewer is getting you to persuade them to do that. If you do get asked something that throws you – say what a good question (flatters the interviewer gives you time to think) then answer as gracefully as you can, and don’t be afraid to say I hadn’t thought about that, or I don’t know!
Why am I explaining all this?
I’ve made the difficult decision that I won’t publish people who won’t support their work. I haven’t the time or energy (or money) to promote every book as though it were my own. If you can’t get behind your book, why would I? With an anthology it’s not so bad because there will be 20 or so authors to spread the load – although it’s hardly fair on those who will schlep around libraries reading to expect them to support those who won’t.
How can I support the diffident writer?
I really do get it! As I said, that was me once upon a time. That’s why I’ve got Arts Council funding for a series of workshops for writers, that aren’t about writing – you’ve missed the performance one, but…
FRIDAY 23/9/16 (that’s this week!) 2-4pm Canada Water Culture Space £12 we have: Handling the Media with Rosie Wilby, who broadcasts at Resonance FM, and is also a comedian.
These workshops are heavily subsidised, you would expect to pay £35 or more on the open market. At the moment we have no takers for the basic marketing, so we are cancelling it if we don’t get at least 4 bookings by midday Thursday. Tell your friends! (if we get 3 bookings, we’ll transfer you to the advanced course, or return the booking fee) The other courses have some space left, but if you want to come, you need to get booking.