I’ve been and gone and done it! A suitable printers’ quote came in, and I had a no-frills deal for an initial 50 copies with a reliable local firm (GP Printonline, Peterborough). It involved no proofs so there’s a couple of things I must alter in future; but the end result is saleable, and that’s what matters. The 9-day turnaround time was also appreciated, because it’s ready for the Newark Book Festival now. I’ll be taking them around at the next three events, to see how it goes; meanwhile, if you’re interested you can order one for £7, including p & p within the UK mainland. Please use the form on the Shop Stop page, or enquire through Twitter @rennieparker, or ww.poetrypf.co.uk. Once I’ve got my seller’s information on Amazon, you may order through there also. The title is Daughters of the Last Campaign, and the press name is Demeter, after the classical goddess. As it’s a trial printrun I’ve included some artycrafty inserts – you might find ’19th century adverts’ and a small print as a bookmark.
It’s been a long haul with this particular book – at first I wrote it as a radio script, which is why the whole thing is dialogue-driven – and I tested it while working on a community arts project where the main art was playwriting. Then I submitted it to a BBC department in the days before they changed to the Script Room system; and it was quickly rejected. But I could see how womens’ comedy (and comedy written by women) had gathered momentum, with many more delivering standup routines and older ones like me experimenting with different media. I kept faith with my idea, and re-wrote it as a collage text, with a cacophony of voices both male and female, some of them from the early 20th century. I was able to capture the period feel because my PhD reseach was on the pre-WW1 generation – and like a lot of people fascinated by the intricate layers of Edwardian life, I’d read the explorer literature from the same period.
I suppose the lesson I learnt was: ‘don’t dump your ideas’. Yes, creative writing teachers will exhort you to murder your darlings, cut, cut, cut, fillet and slash. But I’m not one of the people who writes like that. I nearly always revise up, not down, with scripts gathering interest and detail until they’re done. If you’ve tried out your work in a public format like a class or a local open mic night, the audience reaction is all you need to convince you maybe it’s best to carry on. I would have binned the project if people hadn’t laughed, or if a few independent script readers hadn’t said it was worth doing. I can’t spend years on a vanity project, throwing good money after bad – and neither can anyone else. But sometimes, you have to pursue an idea until it becomes real.