Sunday, July 26, 2009

Cottage Industry

Writing can be a cottage industry, except it's not particularly industrial, and I've not got a cottage. You can see how it might work, of course. As my friend Elizabeth points out in her little piece on last week's Manchester book market, the writer sometimes doesn't just get to write the book and read the book, but may also end up distributing the book and collecting the money for it. In some ways that can be part of the fun - the cottage part, I guess - but the industry part is more difficult. After all, we all practice division of labour in life; saving time by getting someone else to do things for us that they're better equipped to do.

So, this weekend, with a very rare three day stretch to hand, I've been almost religious about staying cloistered. And what have I done? Worked so hard...done so little! For the simplest of things in the cottage industry can take so long, just to get right. We industrialise for a reason, to be more efficient, mostly. And if I was running a little magazine still, or something similar, I'd be the same - but this weekend's tasks have been catching up with months of neglecting my "literary business". Not the writing, but the "putting out."

I've diligently typed up a few longhand poems; carefully re-read and lightly edited a short story and a non-fiction piece for various competitions; re-formatted the documents according to the particular "rules" of each competition (and wondering whether life was easier when I was surrounded by envelopes, cheques and stamps, rather than online submission procedures?) Finally, I've tried out Feedbooks which Scott Pack had mentioned as a place to get free e-books from for his holiday reading. Maybe, at last, there is an audience for reading fiction on mobile devices? Certainly most of my friends and acquaintances - at least those in the digital realm - have an iPhone or similar. Making it easier to upload in various formats - which is what Feedbooks hopefully does - seems a good option.

So, although "For the Want of a Gas Barbecue" is a couple of years old, it seems the perfect summer reading for a mobile device, being humorous, contemporary, and not too long.

In between this activity I'm reading Helen Carr's excellent group biography of the imagists, "Verse Revolutionaries", and enjoying the cottage industry of literary London 100 years ago. It seems more similar to the present day than the intervening years, somehow...


Crealock said...

Dear Mr. Slatcher,

I have a blog, Online Novels,, with the names, descriptions and web addresses of several hundred free novels available on the internet; please let me know if I may include a link to your book, For the Want of a Gas Barbecue, as featured on Feedbooks.

Thank you.

Sincerely, Susan Crealock

Adrian Slatcher said...

Please do.