Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Highlights of 2010

This is my 100th post! According to my counter, I've had over 10,000 visits to my blog. And according to Google Analytics, I've had over 2,000 individual visitors this year. And I have 50 blogger followers at the moment. Those are some nice stats :)

Anyhoo. It's nearly the end of 2010. Once again I shall be moaning about how quickly time flies, and moaning even more that I can't get used to writing '11' instead of '10' in dates. Inevitably, the end of the year is a time for reflection.

Last year I set myself one goal for 2010: write at least 500 words a week. Unfortunately, I quickly forgot about my goal. I didn't record any word counts. But considering I've written 10k of a novel, and a bunch of short stories and poems, I think it's possible I may have nearly reached the target. Who knows!

Here are the highlights of 2010:

  • APR. I published the first issue of Inkspill Magazine.
  • MAY. I travelled to Greece.
  • JUN. I got to travel to Portugal for the EurOMA conference, and stay in a 5 star hotel - all in the name of work!
  • JUL. I got to read and comment on the unpublished draft of Write to Be Published by Nicola Morgan, before it hits the shelves in June 2011.
  • AUG. I was accepted onto Royal Holloway's Creative Writing MA.
  • SEP. I racked up 1 year's experience in the publishing industry.
  • OCT. I was short listed in Mslexia's poetry competition.
  • NOV. I was published in the highly successful Hint Fiction anthology.
  • NOV. I was whisked away to Venice for my birthday.
  • DEC. I managed to reach the first 10k of a novel - the most I've ever written for a single project.

Strangely, looks like the first quarter of my year was pretty uneventful. I think I was just focusing on work, and spending my free time creating the first issue of Inkspill Magazine. Either that, or I can't remember that far back.

Fingers crossed for an even better 2011!

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Inkspill Magazine Update & Advice from Lord Sugar

Inkspill Magazine issue 3 has been on hold for a while, due to my MA and freelancing taking up a lot of time. But I'm nearly there with the third issue now. I have all the content commissioned (and what a great load of content it is!), and I've drafted it all up in InDesign. I've drafted the cover, and am just awaiting confirmation from the photographer that she likes what I've done with her image. I'm hoping that I can finish everything before January, and send off for a proof copy, ready to start selling in early January.

Running the publication has taken a lot more time and effort than I had originally anticipated. And since my Masters degree and my freelancing work takes priority, sometimes I let things slip a little. I have been on the verge of giving up on it for some time... But in my heart I don't really want to.

I was watching 'The Apprentice' the other day, and someone on it said something along the lines of: If your business is failing, you don't give up on it, you adapt it. You have to constantly evolve it.

Well, Inkspill isn't exactly failing, but it could be better. Issue one and two were printed by differing companies, in an attempt to keep costs low and quality high. But the main problem is the distribution. I have been buying in bulk, and sending out printed copies to contributors across the globe. This leaves me massively in the red. And now that I'm not working full time, I can't afford to be in the red. So once again, I am having to re-think my strategy. And the solution is going to be print-on-demand.

I have always been against print-on-demand because one-off printing means higher costs. So I'm also working on changing the format to keep the price down. I want Inkspill to be an affordable publication. The set postage costs by the print-on-demand company are the biggest worry, though.

And contributor copies... I started off sending a print copy to every contributor, even if they lived in America or Russia. For this issue, I am only sending print copies to those in the UK and Europe, and those outside this area will receive a PDF version. For future issues, I'm considering only sending PDF copies to contributors, BUT having a £10 'prize' for the best piece in the issue. Just some ideas at the moment.

Talking of PDFs, I'm also considering perhaps making the PDF version free. At the moment, I'm charging £1.50, and get quite a lot of people buying them. Yet I wonder, if I make it free, it should reach a much larger audience, and I could hopefully secure some advertising to generate the finances. Again, this is something I'm unsure of, and might have to experiment with...

I'm also going to be changing how I receive submissions. I get hundreds of email submissions, and it's a nightmare to keep them organised. For the new issues, I'm looking forward to finally using SubMishMash.

A while ago I advertised for the help of some guest poetry editors. Again, I have let things slip, and have yet to go through the submissions and select some guest editors, but this is something I am intending to do, to help with issue 4 and 5. I'm hoping SubMishMash will make it very easy for me to share the workload of submissions.

I'm also considering overhauling the website. Many days of work went into creating the current site, but I'm considering changing to a blog platform, simply because I need something that is much easier to change, adapt and move around. Once again, this isn't set in stone.

One last thing. I intended for the magazine to be published quarterly. Yet this year, I have only managed 2 issues. And so I'm considering making it bi-annual. But again, I'm not sure on this point yet.

Any thoughts and opinions on all this greatly welcome. After all, this magazine isn't for me - it's for you! Anyone with a creative spirit. So suggestions and opinions welcome.

Inkspill Magazine issue 3 will be available to buy January 2011.

(With thanks to Captain Cat for the wonderful promo shots)

Wednesday, 15 December 2010


The first semester of my MA in Creative Writing is over. It's gone so quickly. Though there are three semesters in the year, only two of them are teaching semesters, so I've already had half of my teaching - a daunting thought!

Over the Christmas break I'm writing a 3-4k theory based essay. I've never had to do an academic essay to do with Creative Writing before. The essay side of Creative Writing at undergraduate level was about self-responses. Likewise, I've not had much experience of inventing my own title - about anything. Again, this is quite daunting. If I chose a bad title, my whole essay could fall through.

Luckily our first assignments are marked twice, and we have a chance to re-write them before the final submission. So that's quite comforting.

We also have to submit the first 5k words of our novels. I am going to go over all the parts I have been workshopping, and spruce them up a bit. I'm not too worried about getting this work done. But I'm very apprehensive of having it marked.

Now that a third of the academic year has gone, I'm also starting to panic about what I'm going to do in the future. Should I go back into the publishing industry? Can I expand my freelancing? Could I become an English teacher? ... I just have no idea.

Ideally, I think I need a job I can do part time, and one where I have a balance between working alone and interacting with people. Above all, though, it needs to be something I enjoy. That has always been my number one goal when it comes to a permanent job.

I know I have time to figure this all out. But sometimes time has a nasty habit of speeding up.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Student Riots - Punks Down on Their Luck

"You've got to ask yourself one question: 'Do I feel lucky?' Well, do ya, punk?"

Personally, yeah, I do. When I first went to university, just four years ago, I felt pretty unlucky. I was the first generation to have to pay £3k per year instead of £1k per year for my education. Now, students are facing £9k per year.

At the moment, I'm shouldering about £20k's worth of debt for my undergraduate degree (including living cost). I can imagine that with these new student fees, many students will be facing around £35-40k of debt. It's outrageous.

I'm unsure how post graduate degrees will be affected, but I'm also feeling lucky that I went for mine when I did. The cost was already on the cusp of an absurd amount to me. If it had been any higher, I would not be a student again right now.

MPs are saying that £9k a year is still a small price to pay for a degree, considering that students are given loans and won't have to pay anything back until they are earning £20k+. But degrees seem to be decreasing in value, since so many people have them, and there is already a lack of jobs. Graduate enemployment is at an all-time high, so how can it be justified that a degree is worth £40k in the end? It is not a guarantee for a higher paid job, or even a job at all.

If this price increase discourages people to go to university, the value of a degree will increase. But the people whole are dissuaded will be those from working and lower-middle-class backgrounds, for whom £35-40k of debt is actually a significant figure.

The BBC's top story today seems to be about a few protesters kicking Prince Charles' car. Because that's obviously the most important thing here.

I watched around three hours of news coverage of the riots last night, with mixed emotion. Students are rightly protesting. The minority are (in my opinion) wrongly protesting using violence.

Many people are saying that the decision is undemocratic. News reporters retaliated saying that the MPs making this decision were democratically elected. To which protesters responded that when they voted, these student fee increases were not in the parties' policies. Liberal Democrats said they would fight to abolish student fees, and the Conservatives said they would not increase student fees. Many people are angry because the voting system seems to be nothing more than a fa├žade.

I'm still in a state of disbelief. It's simply unsustainable, ridiculous, and outrageous.
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