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In 2011, when I was trying to get my head around Wordpress (a major fail for me by the way), I came across a feature while browsing the internet for help. It sold me on the virtues of self publishing and never having to get caught in unsolicited manuscript submission hell. The book in you has an out. I had not had this kind of inspirational excitement since my parents gave me the best ever Christmas present, a blue Petit Junior typewriter when I was 10 years old.  

I played at touch typing with it all the while dreaming of the books I would write and let my imagination flow. My first idea had to be perfect. Well that was December 25th and by December 27th my sister broke the letter 'e' and just like that my dreams were abruptly dashed. For days I looked at the machine and wondered how it could be fixed. Was it possible to write without the 'e'. I was delaying the inevitable disappointment. My parents rolled their eyes in that 'kids will be kids' not realising the enormity of the catastrophe. I took to the local stationers as directed by my father, but there was nothing they could do. I still ache for that thing. I only threw it out when I was 14. Gave up the ghost and let it go. That tail off of my imagination was kickstarted again the more I delved into self publishing. 

I had been writing poetry since I was 6 years old which was read out in the school assembly after I won a pen nib badge for my joined up writing too. I won again after that every year of infants school. I knew it was something I could do. We had a new headmaster, Mr Silverman who was passionate about reading and writing. Isn't weird the things we remember? For the first time books became a part of a prize giving ceremony over each term. I didn't know how important it was, I just knew I enjoyed writing as much as drawing. Looking back the prizes were either Ladybird or Enid Blyton's post colonial crazies. I treasured them though. I still have them. 

My writing journey started early. Further down after Art College, I joined a few bands and started singing and that was when I purposely set about trying to write poetry and songs. A had a manager (he fancied me, this was his excuse to hang around), who pushed me to hone the craft because as an artist the money was in music publishing. It's common knowledge now, but not back in the 80's. I struggled with it. I heard the hits and really listened, but didn't want to end up being influenced to the point of imitating. 

One broken heart too many, I turned to writing my emotions on paper. It was certainly better than writing a Dear John letter in reverse. You only make that mistake once. The process was cathartic. I wasn't surrounded by poets. I wasn't in a bohemian world. I wouldn't have known the cliche that poetry can be. Only that it took sadness to really hone my craft. I tried prose. I tried metaphors. I experimented. All just to write away my feelings until I healed. 

And so it went on. Girl meets boy. Boy dumps girl. Heartbreak. Repeat. As you can imagine between 1986 to 2011, that amounts to a body of work. 

The original manuscripts were written, most times on lined paper and kept in folders. I photocopied them and self addressed them back to me to protect the copyright - unrecognisable in the UK. When the PC came in, I painstakingly wrote them out and saved them on a floppy disk, editing and revising them as I went along. That's when I realised how prolific I was. When I progressed to an Macintosh Desktop Pro, I really went to town to create a new file. Timely, just as I was getting to grips with self publishing. Here was the material ready to cut and paste. 

The joy I found in megalomania, I could write, design my own cover and fonts all from the Mac. There was no no gatekeeper to tell me that I couldn't. I did it for me. Nothing more satisfying than putting these books together for the first time. Typical me, I did four at once. To be honest, I wasn't aware of the 'anthology' concept at that time. 

The poetry became spokenword, because as an ex-singer it was natural for me to speak the words out loud, perform them. Looking back at the naiveté of the young girl I was when I wrote them, was a bitter sweet experience. I wanted to hug her and tell her it gets better. I want to reassure her that expressing yourself through any medium is a good thing for your sense of self. I wished she could have known that the book The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron would change her creative life. 

The thrill of seeing my words dating back, my poetic journal if you will, in print. On a page. All my own handy work, well there's nothing like it. The satisfaction of a mission complete was enough. Not for me the day dream of best selling. I did once have a music publishing deal which came to nothing. I was realistic. The books were first published on Amazon. I priced them at £26 each, to prevent sales. I just wanted a record of them, ISBN registered. The author copies I took with me to various studios for singing the odd top line and the one or two performances since. Having them in my possession validated my ability. 

There was another reason for the overpricing and that was I was uncomfortable with my raw feelings being 'out there'. I didn't want a pity party of my vulnerability. Some of the poems were reimagined, completely made up as part of my experimenting with prose. I didn't want to have to explain myself. 

Here we are 9 yers on and I do not care. There is treasure between the simplest ideas. I learned that I always had a social conscience. The words are out of favour, but they're a time stamp. Authenticity is everything today. Recognising 'Mindfulness' is humanity moving forward to greater empathy at last. Our young people are fighting it out, writing online. How will they look back at their puberty and idealisms? It is all in writing for all to see. The outcome must be that they are not alone. They all did it. My outcome and many others is we did it on pen and paper. Lost diaries. 

This is kind of an elaborate caveat to the reasons why these pamphlets exist. I haven't changed a thing. Just fancied up the covers. 

They are to be enjoyed or dismantled. Debated or ignored. But it's just one young person trying to figure her emotions out. Expect an anthology in the new year. 😉

They will be available for purchase via Amazon end of October 2020. 

JaxEtta Vintage

Colour Me Street Heart

JaxEtta Retronome



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