Saturday 9 July 2011

A few pictures and a story of a story...

Front cover of Good Condolences the chapbook I've already written and produced
...and printed.

These pictures are here because I want to provide a bit of context about chapbooks and what I've done so far.

Good Condolences is a story that I've known all my life and one that I have wanted to write for years. I tried it as a novel when I was at university in leafy Norwich, but it wouldn't stick and I wasn't convinced it was what I wanted to do with it. I had some good feedback on the start I made, but that wasn't enough to persuade me to finish it (well, start it). I don't like to waste words or time and really it was just an experiment. I would like to *emphasise* here that I don't like to waste words or time when I am writing fiction - when I am doing anything else, I frequently waste words and time. 

So four or five years later, this novel idea has become a single-story chapbook. It is thirty-two pages long and contains only the story (and some pictures). The pictures and design and editing took far longer than the writing - but that makes sense, since the story was sitting there waiting to be written. 

All at once several things happend to get me started in January. After looking around at several websites about writing, I can't remember exactly how, I stmbled upon the idea of the chapbook, and was particularly inspired by a blog post entitled The Art of the Chapbook. Around the same time, I went to London and at the V&A I saw an exhibition of Beatrix Potter's illustrations and first editions.

Beatrix Potter, ‘Privately printed edition (1901)’ © Frederick Warne & Co. 2006

Potter self-published The Tale of Peter Rabbit (image above) after writing the story for a 'real live child.' I have always said that I wouldn't self-publish anything, but I have also said that I want to be in creative control of what I produce. This idea then is a compromise but hopefully is not me 'giving in.' I'm not self-publishing something that publishers and agents have rejected, but producing something in a medium that is separate from the world of big agencies and ur...Waterstones. Perhaps I'm copping out, but I hope not. I hope I'm making something along the lines of an EP by a new band or a small print by a young visual artist. The book has been professionally edited and so I feel confident that I can share it with the world. I'd love for an agency or publisher to pick me up one day (I'm not completely anti-establishment!), but at the moment this is what I do - or part of what I do - and I am really enjoying it!

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