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A year in reflection

As we approach the end of 2022 there is an opportunity to reflect on the last year in terms of writing progress. I didn’t set out to be the next Stephen King or JK Rowling. My aims have been much more modest than that. But I also did not impose any limitations on how I would approach getting my work out there in gradual steps. For many writers I think the biggest hurdle is themselves. I have found a couple of mantras have really helped me to focus on what I wanted to achieve and maintain resilience in the face of any perceived setbacks or failures. Everyone has them. When you actually think about what you are doing when you send out your work to a press or a magazine it is simply this:

Here is my work, do you like it enough to put it in your magazine?

You are not asking the entire population of the world, some 7.5 billion people currently whether they like your work or not, just one or maybe two people. So what happens if they don’t like it? Well that’s just two people out of the above number who it didn’t appeal to. This is not a reflection on the quality of the writing, more often it is about a good fit. Editors have limited space in the magazines and sometimes have tough choices to make. Perhaps look on it a bit like you are sending your poem or story on a date. When it comes home despondent, you could ask – how did it go? Likely your story would reply, Oh you know, really nice person, but, just not for me. And so you your story moves onto the next date. No loss, and maybe you have found a friend.

There are two key pieces of advice or guidance that I have stuck with and will continue to apply in response to the inevitable rejections I will receive over the next few years. The first is this:

I will not be deterred by rejection. It does not in any way define my writing

This is really about resilience. Many writers will give up at the first hurdle, taking the rejection itself as a personal slight. of course, it hurts when you have put your heart and soul into something and it gets returned with a hard pass. Much the same way you would feel if someone walked up to you in the street and said they didn’t think much of your children. Getting a piece ‘returned’ to you in my view is more about an opportunity for someone else to see it’s value. Of course it is also an opportunity for you to review that piece you wrote 6 months ago and wonder if it really does hit the mark or not. This ties in nicely with the second piece of advice:

I don’t hold anyone else’s opinion higher than my own

You may think there is an air of conceit about this, but nothing could be further from the truth. What I mean by this phrase is that I don’t hold the view of others any higher or lower than my own. Very often we think of an editor as the one holding the power in the relationship. They do over the content of their own magazine, but not over the entire literary world. Many editors will rightly disagree about what they feel constitutes a great piece of work, that is what makes their publications unique from each other. If you want to take this thought a little further, it might actually be a good thing if someone hates what you do. At least you will know that your work is not so middle of the road that whoever it was was indifferent about it. I would rather someone love it or hate it than comment ‘well, yes. that was okay I guess’.

As an example, I have three poems out this week with Roi Faineant press. All of these have been rejected before, and that’s fine, it wasn’t for those guys, it doesn’t meant that someone else won’t put it out there. You can read all of these pieces here and draw your own view

https://www.roifaineantpress.com/post/being-a-better-kind-of-ghost-the-promise-of-rain-opening-night-by-gavin-turner

I hope this advice helps anyone considering sending their work out, face it, you literally have nothing to lose.

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Hell is other people – a substack blog

One of my projects away from GT Poems is a new Substack blog I have created. ‘Hell is other people’ is the regular news letter/ diary of Phelan Tweed, Manager for People and Persecutions in Hell. Running a successful HR department can be difficult at the best of times, but HR in Hell is a whole different ball game. Why not head over and check it out.! Maybe I’ll see you in Hell.

https://gavint.substack.com

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In the Dark with Gavin Turner

Hi All,

Hope you are well, enjoying reading, writing and stuff. In between posting poems and short story links on my website and sharing these with you I have been doing a lot of updating and broadening my scope so to speak. I will be doing a monthly newsletter to share what I have been up to and some exciting projects I have been working on.

Collaborations

I have been working on some collaborative pieces recently. It has been really interesting and exciting to work with some great writers who I have met via twitter and through publishing in journals. The first of these was a collaboration with Tiffany M Storrs who is Editor in Chief at Roi Faineant press and Melissa Flores Anderson. Roi Faineant is one of the first magazines to publish my work and is a great supporter of new and upcoming writers and poets. I would highly recommend checking out their work. The whole magazine has a great vibe and they have recently extended their editorial team, moving on to bigger and better things all the time. You can link into what they do here https://www.roifaineantpress.com/

The piece we worked on is called ‘Curbing the Appetite’. It’s a kind of horror based romance story which combines all our writing interests in one place. We were really excited to see this accepted at the first try with Icebreakers lit, a new magazine that focusses on publishing collaborative pieces. They have a really enthusiastic team and support writers to find other people to collaborate with. Why not check out this piece and some of the other great writing there at https://www.icebreakerslit.com/

The next collaboration will be published in 2023 which is a piece I worked on with a relatively new friend of mine Kellie Scott-Reed. Kellie is also part of the Roi Faineant team and interviewed me for ‘A word with’ this summer, shortly after my debut Chapbook, The Round Journey was released. More to share about this piece nearer the time but suffice to say we both think it rocks!

Poetry

Yesterday I attended the Wigan Write out loud poetry event. I haven’t been able to get down recently so it was great to see the range of excellent poets sharing their work with a friendly and supportive crowd. I performed two poems that I have shared on the site recently, ‘A need to read’ and ‘Johnson’s Tarantella’. I have a Christmas poem ready for next month so looking forward to getting down there again. If you aren’t local they also run a zoom meeting which has poets from all over the world on it. Just google Wigan write out loud for all the details.

Short stories

I will share the links to most of my published short stories on the site. A few of the recent ones are on there already. Some of my work is shared via my Substack page where I am looking to build a following and self publish some of my stories and flash fiction. It seems pretty unusual to get a high level of feedback about your work from publishers so I would really encourage people to add their comments, thoughts etc. I always try to provide a response and am keen to meet new people who enjoy literature as much as I do.

Fifty styles of grammar

Sometimes I like to put something together that most people will think is, how can I put this, stupid. Part of being a writer is to experiment with things that bring you joy. So I put together a little parody site of the infamous Fifty shades books, only in this version, Crispin Grammar (Christian Grey) is really into…books, and the protagonist, Amistakia, has never, in her whole life, read a book.

A short sample:

“I guess you never met anyone who does his own book binding before” he smirked.

I felt the blood rush to my cheeks. I’d never even seen a chapbook before, and here he was, explaining how you might self publish.

“I’ll ask Bobby to ring it up for you”

Crispin didn’t say anything this time, he just glared at me, the way he does. With his eyes. Once all the items had been paid for he crinkled the paper bag in his strong fingers, seductively.

“Goodbye Amistakia, perhaps our paths will cross again”

My inner passive voice squeaked a bit.

“There’s a book fair next month and I might be a little short on binding glue” he said knowingly.

“Oh, I said, and is that for?”

“Yes, he grunted, for sticking the pages together”

Check out the first three parts here!

https://fiftystylesofgrammar.wordpress.com

The Round Journey – debut Chapbook

I released The Round Journey with Alien Buddha in May 2022. I have been delighted with the experience of getting my first book into print. This short collection is a series of poems all linked to specific places, objects and sites around the village I live in. But it goes deeper than that. The circular journeys of life we all go on, our history, our future is all wrapped up in a round journey. I like the idea of being able to read the pieces and physically see the places I was talking about when I wrote them. I took all the photos used in the book and am really proud of the cover. Alien Buddha did an excellent job helping put this piece together. You can purchase a copy from Amazon or if you would prefer a signed Author copy I can arrange this also. I like to add a little extra poem in for direct purchases and I can send to the UK for £10 or $20 US. Send me a message direct if you would like one.

Recommended Reading/ Writers

I want to do a shout out in each of these letters about either recommended magazines or writers that I have come across who I have connected with. This month there are a few that I would like to highlight, particular those with new books coming out.

Mathew McGuirk

Matt’s debut book ‘Daydreams, obsessions, realities’ was one I reviewed recently. It is a heady combination of poetry and short stories. I thought it was an excellent book and would recommend it. He has just recently announced the publication of his second book ‘Oils stains like Rorschachs’ so I’m really looking forward to getting hold of a copy.

Barlow Adams

I loved this piece recently published by Reservoir Road review. Barlow’s work is raw and unflinching. His writing really connects with all aspects of what it means to be human and he puts it out there on the page. The link below takes you direct to his piece ‘Tell me if I stop’

https://www.reservoirroadlit.com/issue-05/tell-me-if-i-stop

Courtenay Schembri Gray

Courtenay’s substack site The Maple Moon is a treasure trove of poetry and stories. Courtenay also writes commentary pieces on her experience of being a writer. By subscribing to her page you can get access to a wide range of free stuff and for a little extra you can access the full site for all her ongoing work. Her poetry collection The maggot of Maple street is due to be released in January 2023 and can you can get a sneak preview below!

https://themaplemoon.substack.com/?utm_source=substack&utm_medium=email&utm_content=share

On the socials

Twitter

You may have picked up on the purchase of twitter recently and some nervousness about what it will become in the future. You can still connect with my on there via @gtpoems and I intend to keep my account open for the foreseeable future. There are other options available which I am exploring but this is where I post most of my updates. Would love to get some more followers if you feel like joining in the conversation.

Facebook

You can find me on Facebook – just search Gavin Turner Author to find my page.

Hopefully get another of these out next month. Would love it if some of you got in touch. Let me know if you enjoyed the recommendations, if you’ve written something you’d like to me to share/ talk about or anything else to be honest. Enjoy reading and writing and I’ll catch you In the dark somewhere.

Gavin