In this pensive post sharing insights into his own journey to become a self-published author of creative non-fiction, Paul Murphy heralds the start of a year that will bring greater opportunities for indie authors everywhere.
I am writing this as the sun goes down on the end of a year. A time to reflect, consider and renew.
I am sceptical about the power of a date alone to initiate significant change. However four years ago my life did change forever: my wife filed for divorce and time was called on a long local government career. At the darkest time of the year, I was at my darkest.
Any latent creative writing instinct had lain dormant during thirty years of public sector life – in which imagination, wit and storytelling were signs of deviance, treason and insurrection. I had started writing stories again though around this time as a marketing advisor at Ty Newydd – the National Centre for Creative Writing for Wales and was invited to take part in an online arts writing initiative called 26 Treasures. I had to write just 62 words to quicken still life into existence. It sharpened my senses, awoke desire and introduced me to a new set of colleagues, all writers, several of whom shared a link – they had all completed the MA Professional Writing at Falmouth University. Also at this time, John Simmons, a Falmouth University Honorary Fellow, introduced me to his Dark Angels Writing School, and took me under his wing (so to speak).
The Sleeper Awakes
In the Autumn of 2011, I took the plunge myself and dived headlong into the deep, fast flowing waters of Falmouth academic life beside the sea in Cornwall.
Sometime during that year appeared a writer. Perhaps I had always been a budding writer, but it was this year, with body and soul immersed in a cocoon spun from febrile minds, cooled by winds of change, moulded from the blinding white Cornish china-clay, that allowed a chrysalis writer to emerge. ‘Pragmatism’ is a catchword at Falmouth that grounds the magical realism that still carries me away at times! Yes, they teach you about the art and science of writing; yes, they introduce you to the distinct genres of writing; they instil in you their passion for creativity, but above all they encourage the idea that all crafted writing is good. They love fiction but, unlike perhaps many other creative writing programmes, they do not value it above other genres.
As the course progressed, I discovered in myself a love of writing creative non-fiction. The MA gave me a platform for a new life as a writer, and soon, things began to happen. That online Arts project became a book – 26 Treasures: 4 National Museums, 104 objects, 62 words each. My first book, As I Walked Out Through Spain in Search of Laurie Lee, started out as a pitch to my non-fiction tutor, Susannah Marriott, in February 2012 and evolved into a dissertation. It was then further honed on a Faber Academy Memoir programme, completed and then self-published with Silverwood Books in June 2014.
I was delighted last month to be invited back to Falmouth University, alongside four of my fellow MA graduates from 2012, to speak to current students about our publishing journeys. We had all been published since graduating from the MA, a remarkable testament to the course itself and its ethos. The event was called ‘The Routes to Publication Symposium’ and focussed on how our individual publishing journeys reflected what Falmouth University’s Susannah Marriott, Chair of the Symposium and Non-Fiction Tutor, Writer and Editor, called ‘the new face of publishing.’ Two of us had followed the traditional route – published by leading multinational brands, one had been published by a small independent and the other two had, including myself, had self-published.
The ensuing forum produced the interesting conclusion that the experience of all five authors had led them to the view that self-publishing offered the most viable and satisfying route for the first-time (or second time) writer. As Marriott said, ‘This is the age of disintermediation…the traditional model has been blown apart and now everyone has the technology to become a publisher.’
So, as the new year dawns, I reflect on a recent significant development for the indie author this year: the landmark decision by The Bookseller to launch its new Independent Author Preview overseen by Caroline Sanderson, the magazine’s Non Fiction Editor. For the independent writer indeed, ‘The times, they are a changing…’
*Photo credit: Chris Tuff Photography
OVER TO YOU
Did you hit the ground running with your writing career, fresh out of school or uni, or did you take the scenic route and pick it up later in life? Did you always recognise the writer within you, or was that a late discovery? Share YOUR story via the comments box!
EASY TWEET: “#Authors: are #writers born or made? @hotspurman shares his view via @IndieAuthorALLi: https://selfpublishingadvice.org/?p=10221 #ww #selfpub”