It’s Astounding, really.

To people of my age, let’s say those born before 1960: life is full of astonishment.  One need only consider this – this blog, this Mac, I’m writing on, this internet, this whole world that’s opened to us now.  When I was a teen and getting into wordcraft,  books, poetry and the magical world of the great literature I discovered in libraries – I was astonished.

I was enthralled by the possibilities and the newness.  My little world expanded hugely, fed by books and photographs and films and imagination.  Since then, I have watched the technological explosion brought about by PC’s and the web and the resulting avalanche of world wide instant communication with glee and joy.

I think younger folks don’t really appreciate what they have because it’s always been there for them. They don’t rememeber when there was only print and film and then TV. They don’t recall how rare even phones were. I do and I celebrate the liberation and true freedom of expression we now have. I am a still a little in awe of it. And yes, some of the evils that hitched a ride are nasty and unwelcome – but still – sit back and think about what we can do now? Really think about the possibilities of this communication revolution and then tell me it’s not really astonishing.

I am still struggling to keep up with the speed of change. Twitter is still a challenging stranger I’m trying to make friends with but I’ll get there, just as I got there with Indie publishing. Thanks to the new modern communication giant Amazon – I can speak to the world through my novels and my voice is not muted by the gatekeepers of the commercial publishers seeking the next big thing that fits their formulas.

Yes I really am astonished and celebrate this new smaller big world.

Non-conformity and rebellion vs. literary conservatism and establishment values.

A call to arms.

A call to arms.

There is a tradition in literature that has been deeply under threat until the advent of Indi publishing.  The tradition of novels that question the wisdom and normality of the day. Examples of these being: Steinbeck’s, Grapes of Wrath or any Joyce or Pushkin or Dostoevsky. That tradition of the subversion and undermining of the tribal, religious, political or social establishment in the novel; was deeply undermined by the contraction of the publishing industry in the past twenty or so years. The grip of a few international publishing and sales conglomerates was becoming overwhelmingly conservative and restrictive. Celebrity worship, meaningless pap, magic and fantasy dominated their output.

Non-mainstream or non-conformist work had little chance of making it past the all powerful gatekeepers. There were exceptions and those tokens are held to be examples of freedom but that was an illusion. Truly radical or overtly critical work was always marginalised at best and buried in the slush pile at worst. We writers conspired in this movement towards conformity by submitting to the idea that rejection by the gatekeepers was our shame. “Not good enough to be published by the establishment means not good enough.”

‘Conform, don’t speak unpalatable truths, don’t bite the hand that feeds you, don’t upset the apple-cart.’

Suddenly we are free of the gatekeepers, we can publish our work and bite as hard as we wish, well with certain reservations. We must still not upset the giant that facilitates this apparent freedom. And that freedom is still more apparent than real.

Having a radical non-conformist novel published means little if it is buried unseen and unread at the bottom of a pile of a million others. Struggling out from under that pile still remains a daunting prospect and one must still confront the powers of conservatism that seeks to keep us buried, marginalized and dismissed as: ‘Indi – worthless – self published – vanity – non-approved pap.’

It is time for we who choose this freedom to properly utilise that opportunity by losing our tendency to feel inadequate and apologetic. Above all we must stop using the derogatory and divisive language of the establishment. We need to do as the gay lib movement did with words like ‘fag’ and ‘queer’. We must take words like ‘self-published’ or ‘Indi’ or even ‘vanity’ and inject them with pride and remove all stigma from the idea of independence in publishing.

I call for an ‘Indi pride’ parade here on the world wide web.

Let’s not fall into the trap of petty tribal squabbles and arguments about which form of self publishing is worthy and which not. Yes some of this new found freedom will be abused by trash and ill conceived and poorly executed rubbish but that is the price we must pay for this freedom. We must rejoice in the opportunity, feed the giant and support each other in our efforts to surface in the fast and vast pool of detritus it produces.

Celebrate the possibilities and offer a helping hand to others who swim in this new sea.

A revolution is here if only we can make it.