Author Stephen O’Donnell writes –
Like a lot of other sectors in the post- credit crunch economic mayhem that has infected the global economy in the last few years, the traditional publishing industry appears to be going down the tubes just now. In a remarkable parallel with the way the old-fashioned media appear to be undermining their own popularity and credibility with a public who are thoroughly sick of their complacency and malpractices, at a time when the need and thirst for information among the general populace has never been higher, so the publishing industry has found itself in extreme difficulty just as the popularity of books and reading in general has reached an all-time high.
In another unflattering comparison with the print media, the reaction of the corporate publishing industry to the threats and challenges posed by new media and the internet has been defensive and largely unimaginative. Consolidation amongst established houses has been matched by the ever desperate search for “safe” commercial fiction; new writers are still being taken on, but only if they can be used as a corporate vehicle to massive sales amidst endless promotion, whereas “risky” ventures by contrast don’t get past the posh London literary agencies that nearly all new writers have to go through if they want their work to be published by traditional means.
Step forward the old interweb strikes again; just as bloggers and internet journalists have perhaps permanently damaged the standing and credibility of Glasgow’s sports media, so writers’ sites and self-publishing sites have offered an opportunity to talented writers who, despite their ability and the potential size of their audience, have been squeezed out by the increasingly commercial concerns of the celebrity biog merchants and the supermarkets turned bookshops.
At this point I should say that my own recently published novel ‘Paradise Road’ was a lucky exception to this general rule. It was taken on by a small, independent publisher based in the West End of Glasgow whose expressed mission it was to buck the current trends in publishing and give a voice to new Scottish authors who might otherwise be overlooked by Random Penguin (or whatever the new merged conglomerate between Random House and Penguin will be called, personally I hope it’s Random Penguin but I somehow doubt I’ll get my wish) in the rush to find the next JK Rowling or EL James. While these authors have provided the publishing houses with eye watering profits and made multi-millionaires of their authors, what a lot of them still don’t seem to realise is that not everyone wants either read or write that sort of crap…
Step forward the good people of Etims to redress some of this imbalance (by good of course I mean bonkers). Ralph, Bedford, Hector and the gang have asked me to ask you to send in your short stories. The boys would like to invite submissions from any and all would be writers, of any age and experience, who are willing and ready to have a bash at putting pen to paper, finger to keyboard on any subject under the sun… provided of course that it has to do with Celtic.
ll going well they’re going to set up a separate section on the site, dedicated to writing, where the best, funniest, and maybe even the downright weirdest stories will be published and (hopefully) enjoyed by the entire Etims community. In the words of renowned Classical scholar Prof. H.D.F. Kitto “that which distils, preserves and enlarges the experience of a people is literature” – so what are you waiting for, get writing. If that doesn’t put you off nothing will.
Tell us about your experiences supporting Celtic, about how you once spent twelve hours sitting on a National Express bus just to make it up to a game, then afterwards went and got pished at the Cathouse and spent the next twelve hours sleeping it off on the bus back down the road. No wait, that actually happened. That was a typical weekend for me when I was a student. While we wouldn’t be averse to reading your non-fiction stories, what we really want is to read your fiction. Use your imagination. As Professor Kitto might have said, make shite up! (he was a Glasgow man, was old H.D.F.)
What we want to read is football fiction. Modesty (and space) prevents me from extolling all the virtues of Paradise Road, but what I can say is that there’s definitely a gap in the market for more fiction in this genre. Non-fiction books about the beautiful game sell like hot cakes, yet the list of contemporary fictional works on the same subject is pretty short. In the sixties the genre was fairly well established, with guys like Brian Glanville doing their thing with great skill and subtlety, but in the last twenty years or so only John King’s ‘The Football Factory’ and its sequels really stand out. King’s novels are excellent and hugely enjoyable, they are essentially an apology for the uncompromisingly right-wing, protestant agenda of Chelsea supporting soccer thugs and their various associates, such as Rangers Steve, ‘who spends his days shouting Fuck The Pope as he buries each palette in the racks.’ Think you can do better? Not quite your tesse du thé? Reckon you can offer an alternative perspective? You shouldn’t really need any more encouragement, should you…
Writing isn’t easy. At least making a living as a writer isn’t easy. Booker prize winning novelist James Kelman has to supplement his income by teaching. And apart from the problems with the publishing fraternity already described, there’s also the fact that writing is not like a normal job. Nobody pays you; if you sit over your laptop for three or four hours and produce what you consider to be some excellent work, nobody comes along and pats you on the back and says well done. It’s a solitary occupation, half the time you’re wondering whether or not anyone will ever read the words and sentences you’re wracking your brains over; your family start to wonder what the hell you’re doing with your life. Women of a certain age (in west end pubs anyway) start to turn their noses up at you. And if you are lucky enough to find a publisher then you have to deal with such worthies as literary agents, editors, publishers and please, don’t get me started on Amazon
So, if I haven’t put you off already, and you’re feeling suitably inspired, the creative juices are flowing etc. etc. (insert suitable artistic cliché here) send us in your short stories. As mentioned, a new section of the Etims site is hopefully going to be dedicated to publishing the best in Celtic related fiction, so get typing. One good thing about writing I’ve so far failed to mention; the satisfaction to be gained from knowing that like-minded people are reading and enjoying the shite you’ve just made up – you cannae beat it.
Kicking us off is Heart of Glasgow by Desimond. Keep em Coming.
Send your submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Stephen O’Donnell is the author of Paradise Road, published October 2012 by Ringwood Publishing. It is available from Amazon and many other outlets. He lives in Glasgow and is Celtic daft.