Sunday, 13 December 2020

I Commit To Paper

On Wednesday evening, I launched I Buy A New Washer (and Other Moderate Acts of Independence) by Zoom, from my bathroom. I decided on the bathroom location as the book has its origins in my learning to change a tap washer back in 2014, albeit in a different bathroom. I was so proud of my achievement that I started a blog in order to let people know about the experience. 

From that act of minor independence to now, I have written around 250 entries, now edited to a book of 52 short essays which span the course of a year. You can read the endorsements on the back cover - they'll give you a flavour of what it's about. 

I enjoyed  the book launch enormously, not least because so many people I care about were able to attend. I also like my book, which (as those of you who have published your work) is not guaranteed. I like the feel of it, the cover design, the thickness of the paper, guaranteeing no show-through. I like the colour of the font in which the title and my name appear (teal, I think).  It's a physical treat to pick it up, feel the smooth cover, open it to its first white, thick, blank page, turn that page to see the title again. It's still too early for me to look much further. Now that I've committed to paper, I know I won't be able to hover my cursor over a sentence to insert a missing Oxford comma, if there is one. 

Committing to paper meant eschewing the photographs I often use in the digital realm for drawings by John Rae. These lift the whole to a cheerfulness which is more Billy Collins than Philip Larkin, something I could not have achieved alone. Whilst I admire Larkin, of course, and all the other slightly depressed poets, you can bet Collins has had more fun. 

From deepest Somerset, Krakow, Edinburgh, and Wem they logged in to wish the book well on its journey into the world, and what is more, they brought their own drinks. I told you they were a generous crowd. For Penny in Western Australia, it was 4.30 am the next day. My editor Ross Donlon (Mark Time Books) was even further ahead -- 7.30 am in Castlemaine, Victoria. This skillful display of time and distance travel was all part of the ride.

Although moving from the digital (this blog) to the page (that book) may seem counter-cultural, for me it's been necessary at a time when so much of my time is spent staring at a screen a couple of feet away from my varifocals. The book weighs in at 210g. I know this because I've weighed it (plus packaging) in order to post it out to readers. 

If you would like to buy a copy of your very own, they cost £10 each including second class UK postage. If you want to get a first class postal service, add 50 pence. Email me at to let me know your requirements. If it's a gift, I can giftwrap and add a card for another £1 and post it straight to the recipient. If you live outside the UK, I can work out the postage rates. 

You can also find I Buy A New Washer (and Other Moderate Acts of Independence) in the Poetry Pharmacy in Bishops Castle, and Pengwern Books, Shrewsbury. And there is a lending copy at Shrewsbury Library, (although the librarian I've been dealing with has taken it home for the weekend, so you may have to wait your turn). I will sort out a wider means of distribution in the new year. 

I'm deeply grateful to those who suggested this project to me, in particular Ross Donlon and Anna Dreda. I am so grateful to you, my readers. Some of you -- Peter, Kev, Anna, Graham, Helen, Morar, Mike (and it turns out, Zoe!) -- have been reading diligently for years. 

When I started this blog in 2014, I thought it would be a playground in which I could practise my poetry writing skills. What I've discovered is that playfulness / mucking about / having fun / being spontaneous (and moderately independent) suits me. 

No comments:

Post a comment