Tuesday is carrying on with the hum of the usual weekday chores. Except, for a while, the skies grows darker with clouds heavy with unspent moisture and the wind is sharp and cold, rushing through the trees in their tender green covers. As the treetops sway under the onslaught of the winds, the ambient white noise putting me in mind of sitting by the ocean somewhere and listening to the sound of the waves, I feel relief. Not travelling anywhere for such a long time now has been a drag on the senses. But it has been a conscious decision between my husband and I. We had discussed about it at length and decided that we would take all possible care and wait out the storm. Travelling will only feel that much more pleasurable when we finally catch that first flight to some place far out or even if we simply drive down in a car to a place nearer home. We have not been anywhere since March in 2020. That for us feels like a long, long time because we are so used to being on the road. Then again, everyone is fighting a battle of their own, most on the mental front, while plenty others are involved in fighting it on the physical front. Some are cash-strapped, trying to survive somehow in a strange new world in which work has completely dried up. On the other hand, there are those who are learning to love their own body, those who are fighting on a daily basis for their unborn children, some are dealing with diseases, and many others are coping with losses of their loved ones. When life seems overwhelming, you find yourself wondering how to keep your head above water.
The struggle/s of the mind is no new phenomenon for the writer. One is used to doubting everything one puts on paper. Because sometimes every word seems out of place. Ever since I have been writing, I have been bogged down by doubts, but the magnitude of it hit me like a locust storm when I undertook the job of writing a book. If you are not a writer who has written a book or is in the process of writing one, you really cannot imagine what self-loathing and self-recrimination is and how those two devils can really do a number on you. There are many more emotions thrown into the mix, but those two were the main ones I dealt with as I worked on finishing the book and then arriving at the crucial decision that I wanted to publish the book on my own. It helped that I came across an Irish writer called David Gaughran, reading whose books on self-publishing and watching whose videos on the subject gave me hope that I could do it privately.
If you had asked me previously about this indie effort of mine, about the alternative world of publishing out there, I might have turned down the thought with alacrity. After all there is a certain snobbishness about the entire affair, a kind of stink if you will. But reading Gaughran I was convinced that it was what I thought that mattered at the end of the day, especially if I was determined to have my book out there and not be dependent on the whim of some agent. Sure traditional publishing is the well-established route to fame. But I am not hung up on fame; I would rather run in the other direction. I have an Instagram account of roughly six hundred followers. That is telling. I do not court the numbers because it is a rabbit hole of desperation and despair (if life does not deal us enough of those emotions already). All I wanted was for my book to be read by those who love reading for the sake of reading.
Now to return to the whole endeavour of privately printing the book, I was enthused by the story of Virginia Woolf and her husband, Leonard Woolf. They set up their own publishing company in 1917 and called it Hogarth Press after the cottage they lived in, in Richmond. Though they made no money off it, they continued printing books by authors such as Katherine Mansfield, Sigmund Freud and T.S.Eliot, for the passion of the business of printing. In 1901, Beatrix Potter published The Tales of Peter Rabbit on her own because she had failed with the traditional route. Using her personal savings she printed 250 copies to begin with.
There are so many examples out there that I fear this might become a thesis if I delved into the lot of them. What I want to tell you if you are an aspiring author, is that embrace those fears you had and don’t look away from self-publishing. Sure, you might not get the kind of attention you want, but at least your book will be out there for readers to read and decide if it passes muster or not. And it is okay, if some do not like it. Remember, your book cannot and will not please all.
However that said, before you decide to trip down the indie publishing path, do make sure you have a bang-up product. Get a professional book editor to shape your book, make sure the content is not plagiarised in any form, give proper attributes to other writers where you have quoted them, read the proofread copy as many times as your need to make sure there are no errors in it, format it properly, and invest in a cover designer who will reproduce your vision for the book on the outside of it. And you shall be golden. As for marketing, I am still learning the ropes of it. Honestly, I am terrible at it, having realised I do not even know how to host a giveaway. Yeah, lots for me on the learning curve yet, but hey I persevere.
The biggest joy at the end of the tunnel has been this that Ramblers in Cornwall is finally out there and enjoying its moment in the sun and for that I am so very grateful. All those times of being sat at the desk, worrying if all of it would come to naught, has finally been soothed away by the hands of time and I can finally bring myself to quote Kerouac without faltering. “One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.”
Leaving you with a groovy song from Hurrah for the Riff Raff for your listening pleasure. Peace out.