These are some comments I made before the California Writers Club back in 2018.
Thanks for the invite.
first of all I want to thank everyone for coming and especially Kim, who couldn’t come. I met Kim when she started coming to an open mic I host called writers on the air. Writers On the Air. Kim and I talked a little about what I was doing and the history of things as I know them, about self-publishing, and all that. When she asked me if Id be interested in coming to talk a little about self publishing, We agreed that you’ve probably heard and possibly explored every angle from the technical/ aspect of … I told her I wouldn’t be interested in going over that but was more interested in exploring and sharing with you different ideas on self publishing, illustrating our talent and creativity in various ways.
Over the course of my writing lifetime I came to see publishing through different lenses and not necessarily the end of a piece but a continuous process. A poem could become a part of a chapbook, a poster, a song with musical accompaniment, a love letter, or a letter to the editor.
so today I wanted to look at writing from a more or less artistic/creative aspect and how self- publishing can expand word art into many different areas of creativity and discuss more about our relationship to our art, emotionally and creatively rather than repeat what we’ve been told and advised about mainstream publishing and/or self-publishing.
There’s at least a couple of ways of looking at art. Objectively as the reader, the viewer, or as the artist itself is through the objective frame of reference of the person who is reading, seeing, appreciating the art. from the artist perspective though art is seen almost purely subjectively and it’s the clash between the two that gets us to method of publication, subjective or objective. As artists and readers/viewers we can slide between subjective and objective. We may become more subjective as we become more involved in reading something we’re interested in or before we publish something we try and look at it from the reader side, will they like it? In the mainstream publication we cater to the whims of “experts” who will tell us what is expected from “readers” or a product upon which you’ve put your heart and soul or just plain hard work into.
Publishing itself is the art of the publishing industry and marketing is part of that and we all know the difficulties of getting something published through the mainstream and the lack of monetary rewards of most self- publishing.
Show and tell history
Here’s a little history of my path toward the way I look at my writing/creativity.
The first poetry book. Illustration.
Kenneth Patchen, Ferlinghetti,Broadside, writing for small alternative newspaper in Portland Oregon, poetry, novel (thirty years later finish novel), readings, chapbooks, posters, postcards,
If you’ve ever used Vistaprint or any other marketing resource like that you’re aware of how much you can do.
In the end whether or not you’ve chosen mainstream or self publication, you’ve chosen a set of collaborations and a certain way of making decisions.
One of the people who comes to the shut up and write session I attend has a published daughter who having found a small publisher for her memoir went one step further and had her manuscript translated into mandarin and published in China. she’s just finished her second novel.
Writers on the air is a radio/streamed/web/podcast program. About four years ago a small group of us, most of us members of a Shut Up and Write meetup started getting together and recording our poetry and various writings. We’d record from our closets, at access sacramento, a local community radio and tv organization bathrooms, any quiet place we could.
I have a radio program that I use to broadcast my own stories, poetry but others hat I have recorded.
Writers On the Air records local, original poetry stories, prose, songs, put them on a LP-fm radio program, website, and podcast
Who has published? Self-published?
I’m not a mainstream nor method guy. I truly enjoy just starting to write something-poetry, prose, essay, short story- simply because of impulse. I may reach a dead end right away, that is, I’ve said what I want to say or I may go and on until I have to rear back and say what the hell is this? A story? A narrative poem? maybe it opens the door to research, find out more about something.
She liked my little poetry book. I told her that I’d seen even smaller. I’ve written a novel, three chapbooks, a set of short stories, and a book about The Election of Twenty 12, my wife’s and my political adventure in red state Arizona during the second Obama election.
As you may know recording your work for web publication is publication. I personally feel that publishers who would not consider a piece that was an open mic recording or you tube performance because it was no longer a first submission to be almost insulting.
but it is what it is.
First of all, I consider everything I write, draw, scheme, integrate into another form having to do with thought, emotion, feeling, as art. to me, art is the transformation of the nether world of thought and feeling and other relationships we have to the outside world.
Against all advice of publishers and psychologists I attach my well-being to whatever I write and of course, agonize over edits, changes, and do overs.
Even what I discard, I save because someday, and someday has come, I may see another use for what’s not used, maybe just paper machie, but something.
Nothing I do is mainstream. I don’t think in advertisements except to ask when somebody is trying to sell me something or convince me to do something, I ask what assumptions are he or she expecting me to have in regard to this form of persuasion.
Words of course are communication of one sort of another. it could be persuasion, command, teach, lie, fabricate, any number of methods of interacting with another. they are all beautiful. maybe the one true difference between us and them, the reptiles. except for our ability to rationalize mass murder, language and communication is foremost of our strengths and weaknesses.
Every artist wants someone to appreciate their art. hell we plaster our kids and grandkids scribbling so on our refrigerators and walls.
but that’s from the other perspective. when our kid brings something to us we think the refrigerator is encouragement but really it’s what’s inside the kid, and thus when we create its what’s inside us coming out and not the reward for having it come out.
For its true I used to come home from going to the movies and seeing some movie and wanting to describe thE movie in every detail to where she would always say later, I guess that’s one movie I don’t have to see. my mom every and the bothhistory of my life as an artist. avid reader, my father giving me an illustrated version of King Arthur’s story. comic books and the reading of newspaper comics. first book of poetry I ever read was Coney Island of mind from a young woman who I wanted to be a lover, first poem was raven the Raven and Poe, first poems published were first published as broadside.
Always intrigued with broadside representation such as Kenneth Patchen, the early efforts of beat poets and handing out poems and statements by plastering on telephone poles. chapbooks. handwritten or typed. as I wrote Marat over the years I’d make little illustrations so I put them in more as pictographs rather than as true additions to story illustrative text, admiration of the artistry.
I love the art of writing. the sometimes structural deviations of poetry, appreciated as much and sometimes more for the creativity of its shape in space as for its meanings.
My writing is the beginning of my art not the end. self publishing is the process where I put my art on the refrigerator or the wall or on the airwaves or imprinted on the face of a piece of art.
It’s true I always want to give two lessons, two talks, two reasons for doing anything because there is always more than one way forward because it depends on where you’re starting from and where you want to go.
When I was a history teacher I wanted to say that even though George Washington crossed the Delaware in a last ditch effort to save young America’s ass he also had wooden teeth and you can guess correctly what the first question most students were interested in as to George’s attributes, bravery or having wooden teeth.
The same goes in a more serious tone about the writers of the Declaration of Independence and their rational for the ownership of slaves. any thinking person should find those two things completely irrational especially from a modern perspective so it’s always surprising to think that even the concept we are all the same species and very little separates us as to intelligence, spirit, and humanity we continue to act we’re from different worlds.
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