freedom
NEWS

Writers’ Freedom



It is often said that there has never been a better time than the present to be a writer. “Anyone” can now write a book, get it published and enjoy the “glow” of holding a printed copy with their name on it. It means that more and more people can experience the emotional self-fulfillment and pride of such an achievement. This possibility does of course give writers the tremendous freedom to express themselves without having to be dependent upon the whims and humors of agents and/or publishers. Just think of it, you never need receive a rejection slip again!

This freedom has given the craft of writing a unique place among all the creative arts. For to create their art and communicate it to others, writers can be in total command of their entire project. No other artform gives artists such tremendous freedom. Just think of it, musicians need impresarios, tour managers and invariably, others to perform with them. Composers need musicians to play their music. Painters and sculptors create unique works that have to be exhibited in galleries, film makers have to find producers, huge financing and massive marketing machines…

The list goes on and on. But only writers can write exactly what they want, commit it to printed or electronic form and have it available to millions of people around the world at the push of a button. The downside of this is, of course, that if they don’t succeed, it can be argued that they only have “themselves to blame”. Their writing may be great, but perhaps their marketing savvy lacked something, or their IT skills weren’t up to it, or they found it difficult to sell themselves… So, as writers, we certainly have unprecedented and unparalleled freedom – but also the freedom to fail. There again, we also have the freedom to try again, and gradually acquire the various skills we need.


Personal experience

As a teenager and young man (in the 60s and 70s!!!) I was always writing. Monologues, radio plays and stories, before launching into visionary painting. This is the kind of symbolic art that requires great precision and can take up to 6 months for a single work. I exhibited these in a top London Gallery, leading to the works either being sold or stored in the gallery’s vaults where very few were likely to see them. Ultimately, this became immensely frustrating and I returned to writing, deciding to put all the paintings I would never have time to complete into a book. In other words, I started painting with words, rather than with brushes and oils. After something more than a year of typing and retyping (in those days if you wanted to change a single word you had to retype the whole page), I produced “Zandernatis” the story of human origins during a pre-glacial civilization in Antarctica. It was about 180,000 words long. I started collecting rejection slips.

Not very many though, because I soon lost heart. The main reaction was, “Interesting, but far too ambitious for a first novel”. After that, I moved into other fields and gathered experience in several different spheres, ranging from tour guiding to leading a team of English teachers in a Paris language school before ultimately becoming a presentation skills coach, translator and copywriter working for most of the top advertising agencies in Paris. Writing advertising copy really hones your writing skills. Every word counts. The slightest nuance is put under the microscope, and the job also involves rigorous proofing and copy editing which are of course so vital for every writer, especially indie authors…


Freedom and revival

Not so long after the self publishing tsunami began to revolutionize publishing, I decided to resurrect “Zandernatis”, adding a new “meta-realist” dimension to it by incorporating press articles, interview transcripts, commentaries by various erudite “experts”, etc. all designed to give the story greater credence. This did of course make it even more “ambitious” than the original version, but with the freedom to self publish, that was no longer a concern. This project involved transcribing the original narrative – all 180,000 words of it – into Word. This was where the freedom offered by today’s productivity tools for writers played a huge part in getting the book into print. Using voice recognition software, it was quite easy to transcribe between 2,000 and 3,000 words in a couple of hours, and while working on Volume 3, I even managed to do 23,000 words in just four days!

All of this has to be very carefully re-read and rephrased, checked for repetitions, grammar, punctuation and everything else. But I didn’t have to worry about writers block, and already have a vast body of text to work with and perfect. Being able to do this also gave me a tremendous feeling of freedom and, coupled with the certainty of being able to publish volumes 2 and 3 in the course of the next few months is exciting and liberating. Needless to say, the marketing side of things is another story. But there is so much help out there on the forums, social media and sites like Goodreads and the Rave Reviews Book Club, that writers no longer have to exist in “splendid isolation”.

We’re all part of an extended, liberated family, free to express ourselves as we want, when we want, safe in the knowledge that our work is “out there” to be discovered. In a nutshell, “freedom of expression” has really come of age. And we are privileged to be the first generation of writers who can benefit from it!!!

Gordon Keirle-Smith, writing in June 2014


NEWS

Writers’ Freedom



It is often said that there has never been a better time than the present to be a writer. “Anyone” can now write a book, get it published and enjoy the “glow” of holding a printed copy with their name on it. It means that more and more people can experience the emotional self-fulfillment and pride of such an achievement. This possibility does of course give writers the tremendous freedom to express themselves without having to be dependent upon the whims and humors of agents and/or publishers. Just think of it, you never need receive a rejection slip again!

This freedom has given the craft of writing a unique place among all the creative arts. For to create their art and communicate it to others, writers can be in total command of their entire project. No other artform gives artists such tremendous freedom. Just think of it, musicians need impresarios, tour managers and invariably, others to perform with them. Composers need musicians to play their music. Painters and sculptors create unique works that have to be exhibited in galleries, film makers have to find producers, huge financing and massive marketing machines…

The list goes on and on. But only writers can write exactly what they want, commit it to printed or electronic form and have it available to millions of people around the world at the push of a button. The downside of this is, of course, that if they don’t succeed, it can be argued that they only have “themselves to blame”. Their writing may be great, but perhaps their marketing savvy lacked something, or their IT skills weren’t up to it, or they found it difficult to sell themselves… So, as writers, we certainly have unprecedented and unparalleled freedom – but also the freedom to fail. There again, we also have the freedom to try again, and gradually acquire the various skills we need.


Personal experience

As a teenager and young man (in the 60s and 70s!!!) I was always writing. Monologues, radio plays and stories, before launching into visionary painting. This is the kind of symbolic art that requires great precision and can take up to 6 months for a single work. I exhibited these in a top London Gallery, leading to the works either being sold or stored in the gallery’s vaults where very few were likely to see them. Ultimately, this became immensely frustrating and I returned to writing, deciding to put all the paintings I would never have time to complete into a book. In other words, I started painting with words, rather than with brushes and oils. After something more than a year of typing and retyping (in those days if you wanted to change a single word you had to retype the whole page), I produced “Zandernatis” the story of human origins during a pre-glacial civilization in Antarctica. It was about 180,000 words long. I started collecting rejection slips.

Not very many though, because I soon lost heart. The main reaction was, “Interesting, but far too ambitious for a first novel”. After that, I moved into other fields and gathered experience in several different spheres, ranging from tour guiding to leading a team of English teachers in a Paris language school before ultimately becoming a presentation skills coach, translator and copywriter working for most of the top advertising agencies in Paris. Writing advertising copy really hones your writing skills. Every word counts. The slightest nuance is put under the microscope, and the job also involves rigorous proofing and copy editing which are of course so vital for every writer, especially indie authors…


Freedom and revival

Not so long after the self publishing tsunami began to revolutionize publishing, I decided to resurrect “Zandernatis”, adding a new “meta-realist” dimension to it by incorporating press articles, interview transcripts, commentaries by various erudite “experts”, etc. all designed to give the story greater credence. This did of course make it even more “ambitious” than the original version, but with the freedom to self publish, that was no longer a concern. This project involved transcribing the original narrative – all 180,000 words of it – into Word. This was where the freedom offered by today’s productivity tools for writers played a huge part in getting the book into print. Using voice recognition software, it was quite easy to transcribe between 2,000 and 3,000 words in a couple of hours, and while working on Volume 3, I even managed to do 23,000 words in just four days!

All of this has to be very carefully re-read and rephrased, checked for repetitions, grammar, punctuation and everything else. But I didn’t have to worry about writers block, and already have a vast body of text to work with and perfect. Being able to do this also gave me a tremendous feeling of freedom and, coupled with the certainty of being able to publish volumes 2 and 3 in the course of the next few months is exciting and liberating. Needless to say, the marketing side of things is another story. But there is so much help out there on the forums, social media and sites like Goodreads and the Rave Reviews Book Club, that writers no longer have to exist in “splendid isolation”.

We’re all part of an extended, liberated family, free to express ourselves as we want, when we want, safe in the knowledge that our work is “out there” to be discovered. In a nutshell, “freedom of expression” has really come of age. And we are privileged to be the first generation of writers who can benefit from it!!!


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