A North Harrovian Tangent

This Wednesday, I was invited by my old student friend Ramya to give a lecture over Zoom to the Writers’ Group of the North Harrow Community Library.

I talked in detail about the self-publishing approach to getting in print, and my current experience of it. We also covered the differing pros and cons of various self-publishing platforms, the practicalities of formatting and marketing your work yourself, the realities of funding and setting a budget, as well as how these various pros and cons stack up against traditional publishers.

A lot of people see self-publishing as fairly new, ‘hip’ and perhaps a little suspect; something that has sprung up quite recently as a youthful, counter-cultural, less-than-legitimate alternative to being traditionally published. I was, however, pleasantly surprised to see a wide age range of writers in the Group who are all carefully considering the self-publishing route.

And, as I was reminded by a couple of knowledgeable attendees, self-publishing has been around for decades… centuries, technically, as Jane Austen released both Emma and Sense & Sensibility on her own dime.

It was particularly gratifying to be reminded just how legitimate a publishing path it is, and just how undeserving the stigma is that surrounds self-published work.

On a little segue, the North Harrow Community Library has a pretty impressive story and ethos, which you can look at here if you’re particularly interested.

On a slightly bigger segue, Ramya‘s short story about enforced disappearances in Sri Lanka, Crocodile Meat, was featured in Rewrite Reads magazine. She’s also been longlisted in Penguin’s WriteNow programme and a finalist of David Higham Associates’ Open Week.

And on a fairly colossal segue, about 4 and a half years ago we both starred in a student production of Antigone.

It’s been a while since I’ve been able to go on stage – I can thank both COVID and my own health for that one – but looking back through some of the old production photos was a fairly pleasant blast of nostalgia.

If you look carefully at the photo down below, you can see a fresher-faced me at the very far right, doing my best to pull off a rather plummy-voiced Haemon.

Man, you can see the contour from here.

Photo cred: Beth Djora

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