Monday, 22 April 2013

HI-Arts and Writing


Many thanks for the opportunity to write here. I am new to blogging so please bear with me. All constructive feedback is most welcome.
                Several lifetimes and at least two incarnations ago I was an obese, unkempt, depressed single mother living off benefits in a nice wee house on a fairly safe council estate. I coloured my black hair bright pink for the sole purpose of attracting the attention of Peter Urpeth, then HI-Arts’ Creative Writing Development Officer.
                Pete set tasks for me. Writing tasks like ‘give me 3000 words by the end of next month’ then give me 30,000 words by the end of the year.’ Me and my pink hair jumped through each and every one of those metaphorical hoops. I think we did a good job, but I returned my hair to its natural state and just concentrated on the writing.
                HI-Arts tutored me. As a community they extended a hand of friendship which guided me through the sheer delight of meeting other authors. My dear friend Angus Dunn says (as often as he can) “Oh it’s just so gorgeous to be in the company of other writers.”
Pete and Angus independently pointed me in several, often differing directions. One area their opinions merged was the rise of self publishing via kindle or e-pub and in particular the rise of John Logan. At their suggestion I followed his progress. Then, when HI-Arts offered courses on e-publishing, advice on social media, when HI-Arts provided free on-line advice about audience engagement and development, I soaked it all up. I absorbed it.  
I eventually met John at a conference provided by HI-Arts, the result of which was my decision to self publish in kindle. It makes me feel very brave and avant-garde to have a kindle book that I wrote and produced, for sale on Amazon. It makes me feel much more confident than pink hair ever did.

                I would never have dreamed of electric books but daily I wish there was an easier way for an indie author to make deals with Bertrams and Gardners, the book distribution people. Accounts with bookshops are tricky, in my experience. The business of discounts and who-gets-what is an institution that a debut independent novelist cannot fathom or compete with.
                In my opinion it is a scandal, an outrage and even a sin ( I am Irish and catholic by origin) that HI-Arts’ services have been cut and their staff sacked. They changed my life – for the better.

Orla Broderick, author of The January Flower (councilhousepublishing.com)

1 comment:

Liza Mulholland said...

Orla, how beautifully you put your thoughts on Hi-arts and I wholeheartedly agree. 'Extending the hand of friendship' is exactly what Pete and the writing team have done, creating a community where aspiring writers are encouraged, mentored, given a wealth of free critique, seminars and advice, and where our confidence and ability has been nurtured. Remember the masterclass at Cromarty and how it was such a turning point for us?! And now you are a self-published author!
I just hope Creative Scotland and HIE are reading these posts to get an understanding of how important Hi-arts is in the lives of so many writers, musicians, visual artists, craftspeople etc, but also our communities and local economy.