Self-publishing Poetry: A Beginner’s Journey
Writing has always been a way for the individual to work through personal troubles. We caught up with writer David Wilkinson about how publishing your poetry not only solidifies your writing aspirations, but also helps to heal emotional scars…
Congratulations on publishing your poetry collection, Life, Love and Loss. Can you tell us a bit more about it?
The poem initially arose after the death of my wife in 2005 after 42 years of marriage. The first poem I wrote was The Beholder, although it is not the first one in the book. I had never written poetry before and cannot really explain why I chose this particular form of writing, but this first attempt spurred me on to write more.
Getting my feelings out at the time seemed to help but I never envisaged anyone would read them as I tended to bare my soul in them. Certainly I would not have wanted my sons to read them, as they would have been upset at the time. Most of the poems in the latter part are sad ones that I wrote in the first few years.
After this, I started to reflect on life in general, and the love that I had lost. The poem entitled Children is about my granddaughter who was a sweet child that I didn’t want to grow up. Apart from the last poem, I finished writing them about six years ago where they remained handwritten with no thoughts of putting them in a book.
Although the content and themes of most of the poems are quite dark, there is a sense of hope at the end. Did you feel it important to end on an uplifting note?
Yes I admit they are quite dark, which reflected my mood at the time. I had thought I was dealing with my loss well, but when after a few years I decided to read them again, I came to realise that I had indeed been in a dark place. Thankfully I am now in a very happy place having met Vicky who has been in the same situation after 42 years of marriage.
It is primarily because of this that I have added the last poem Hope Springs to give the uplifting end and the hope that what you have lost can be found again.
Writing can be a highly cathartic process. Do you think writing the poems helped you get through your loss?
Yes I am convinced that it helped me through it. I guess some would seek counselling. Others lean on family. I tended to keep my thoughts to myself and didn’t want to upset my family with the feelings expressed in the book. Self-counselling you might say.
How long did it take you to finish writing the poems and what was your main reason for creating a book with them?
It took about four years on and off. It was only recently that I realised I had over fifty poems and decided to put them in some sort of order. I had, for some time, come up with the possible title, and now that I was feeling better about myself, I wondered if they would be good enough to make a book. I had no illusions that they would meet with general appeal, because of the subject matter. However, as a reflection of the anguish one goes through it may find some interest.
Did you have a clear idea of how you wanted the book to be designed and produced, and are you happy with the end result?
I didn’t know how to proceed, but started by getting my handwritten work typed out. After this, I found this excellent website that has helped me through the process. As for cover design, I had initially thought of three flowers to represent each of the words in the title, but am more than happy with the cover done by TJ INK.
Why did you decide to get professional services for typesetting and cover design?
I needed some professional help as I was in the dark about how to go about making a book and I wanted it to look appealing. I consider I made the right choice.
“You have to be inspired by something. An event, a subject, a person.”
Poetry can be a very subjective form of writing. In your opinion, what makes a good poetry collection?
I wouldn’t know the answer to that. Mine has a theme, albeit dark in parts, and is of a certain rhyming style. I suppose a good collection would make you want to turn the page and read the next one.
What are your plans for the book?
I am still considering which avenues to pursue and the type of people that may be interested. Let’s face it, a book inspired by bereavement is not most people’s cup of tea! Who knows?
What piece of advice would you give to someone wanting to write their own book or poetry anthology?
You have to be inspired by something. An event, a subject, a person. Something you care about deeply. Or pick a theme, hopefully happier than mine.
And finally, what would be your “desert island” book?
Pride and Prejudice
If you have been inspired by David’s story and would like to discuss a publishing project, please get in touch here.