Self Publishing and Poetry.

Since I've been thinking about self publishing a pamphlet of my own poetry - for reasons which I'll outline in due course - I thought it might be a good idea to talk about the process here on Blogger for the benefit of anyone who might be thinking along similar lines.
At this time of the year, perhaps because I seem to do more work in autumn, winter and spring, than in summer, when too many other things get in the way of writing, I always have the desire to take stock, think about what and where next.
I'm shelving plays for the time being.
Well, I say that's what I'm doing, but I have several proposals of one kind or another 'out there' and if somebody said 'yes' I wouldn't, of course, say 'no'! It's just that nobody ever responds at the moment, and unless I want to get a group of actors together, hire a hall and 'do the show right here' there's little more I can do, except carry on writing dramas that, in all likelihood, will never see the light of day. And much as I love working in the theatre, there is only so much on spec work that you can do. This is not, incidentally, aimed at beginners! Most beginners can expect to do nothing but on spec work for years and years. But there does come a point where you have had a number of critical successes, and many years of experience, but are still not getting any response to submissions, not even rejections, and at that point you have to wonder if you can - or even if you want to - carry on doing it for much longer.
This is, perhaps, a hallmark of just how dedicated you are to a particular medium: ask yourself if you would continue working in it (a) if nobody was responding at all and - perhaps more interestingly - (b) if you were earning so much money that you didn't have to do it. This last condition, alas, doesn't apply to me, but there are certain areas where I would still answer a resounding 'yes' - namely with novels, and poems - perhaps because I feel I still have so much to learn with novels, and am progressing further with each attempt, each rewrite. Well, that and the hundreds of ideas, buzzing around my brain. And then there are poems, where a long hiatus, and all those years of writing drama which seems to have become increasingly poetic, have brought their own rewards. I'm writing more measured poems, more surely, knowing what I want to say and how I want to say it.
Which is where self publishing comes in. Not for the novels of course. I still have hopes of finding a conventional publisher for those, particularly for the work in progress, which concerns a contemporary answer to a historical mystery, and seems pretty commercial to me - but certainly for the poems. I have a couple of pamphlet's worth and am writing more all the time. And the thought of sending them out and waiting and waiting, only to have inexperienced editors tell me what I ought to be doing makes my heart sink. A few years ago, before I stopped writing poetry altogether, I sent some poems to a literary magazine, which had better remain nameless. Back they came with the comment that the reader liked the 'livelihood' of the little boy in them, but not much else. She meant 'liveliness'. But the fact that I was being expected to take criticism from somebody who clearly didn't know the difference, astonished me. So I'm thinking about self publishing a couple of pamphlets partly for my own satisfaction, partly because the whole process interests me, partly to have something reasonably priced to sell at readings and workshops, and partly because I have other plans for some of the poems, but need something that looks professional to send out. And at the moment, I'm talking to printers. Of which more later.

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