My name is Frank Prem, and I’m a poetry blogger from Australia who has recently (December 2018) become an author (and a publisher and a publicist and …).
Thank you so much for inviting me to write a note for your guest blog. That’s very good of you, and I appreciate it very much.
I thought perhaps I’d talk a little today about the journey that has led me to being able to claim transition from ‘writer’ to ‘author’, as it has very much been a case of the light shining on me as I wandered toward Damascus.
I’ve been what I consider to be an ‘apprentice writer’ for most of my life, but forty years as a serious preoccupation. My form of writing is a free verse poetry that is something of a hybrid, in my own opinion at least, between poetry and short story. During my long apprenticeship to the muse, I learned or otherwise taught myself what constituted a good story, what amounted to a satisfying poem, what my writing ‘voice’ sounded like.
I began as a rhymer, who submitted work to magazines and competitions, sometimes winning or being published, but most often not, and without explanation of why my submission might have been not accepted.
I also found that the critique I sought and preferred, came from countries other than my home in Australia. I always wanted to reassure myself that what I wrote could be read by people unfamiliar with me or my lifestyle. That the work would convey across geographic and even linguistic boundaries.
I ended up virtually ceasing any submission activity at all, and should a critique indicate serious rewrite might be necessary, I would discard the work and move on, attempting to absorb the lesson for the next piece, rather than rewrite something I had already finished with.
At different times I attempted the ‘self-publishing’ game. Three books were published as collections with the assistance of wonderful friends, initially, and my wife Leanne, latterly. The collections, which are no longer available, were: A Book of Evenings(2003); Memoir of a Dog (2008), and the first version of my current book Small Town Kid (2009).
That was wonderful, but … There is always a ‘but …’.
To get a book produced in the early 2000’s, it was a requirement to buy a lot of books, to get the cost per unit down. The shift so many books, there was a requirement to do an awful lot of legwork and marketing and the like.
It turned out that I wasn’t ready, with the result that I had boxes of these wretched books tagging along with me through changes of addresses and occasional floods and frequent inconvenience, until I had to get rid of them and we gave them to a local charity.
Fast forward to May, 2018. By this time, I was writing prolifically for my blog page (https:// frankprem.wordpress.com), writing in series – in a sequential manner, rather like chapters of a book – and writing better than I believed I had ever done before. Also, approaching the end of my long career as a Psychiatric Nurse.
I have always believed that if you have a passion that you think you would like to pursue, you should commence immediately, rather than wait for a convenient time. I have seen too many people who thought they could write, but finding after they had retired, that it is a skill that needs to be learned over a long time.
My wife, (rather brusquely, I thought) pushed me out the door and sent me off on a Writers Retreat in far North Queensland at the Rainforest Writing Retreat. Among the marvellous Masterclasses that were conducted, was the information I needed about contemporary Indie publishing, with Print-on-Demand technology available. Also with book design help available at affordable cost to design a book, inside and outside and sideways. Not forgetting editing.
I came away from the retreat persuaded that my writing apprenticeship was concluded and I was now entitled to think of myself as a Journeyman poet and writer. My next mission was to produce an industry standard collection of my work in book form, as well as publish the book under my own imprint (Wild Arancini Press).
I am so delighted, some six months later to be able to show you my memoir – Small Town Kid.
Amazon review extracts:
“I recognize a true storyteller when I see one, and Frank Prem definitely fits the description. Like the minstrels of old, he tells his stories in a lilting, musical format that conjures up pictures, even in non-poetry people like me.”
“ Frank’s work is approachable, understandable, and sensitive in its handling of the most delicate of subjects.”
I chose to start again with Small Town Kid rather than a different collection, for a couple of reasons:
- The material was very familiar to me – I have read it to audiences many, many times.
- Given that I had published it previously, I felt that the manuscript was probably in an advance state of proof-readiness. I wasn’t entirely correct, there.
- The subject matter was local in its content. I believed this might help me to redefine my persona amongst the local population, where I am known as a Psychiatric Nurse who writes a bit, but predominantly as the son of my father. I wanted to quickly change perceptions to become the author, who works here as a nurse and has been a long time resident of the place in his own right. And finally:
- I believed it could be done quickly (it was) and without much hindrance. As it turned out, the hindrance was me, because life always gets in the road of a good plan.
I’ve made mistakes along the way, and could talk about some of those another time, but on the whole, this has been a spectacularly quick part of the journey, and I am delighting in my new identity as ‘local author’.
About the author
Frank Prem has been a storytelling poet for forty years. When not writing or reading his poetry to an audience, he fills his time by working as a psychiatric nurse.
He has been published in magazines, zines and anthologies, in Australia and in a number of other countries, and has both performed and recorded his work as ‘spoken word’.
He lives with his wife, musician and artist Leanne Murphy, in the beautiful township of Beechworth in northeast Victoria (Australia).
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