My Writing

a writing by Paul Butters

I see myself as a “closet” writer. People say that I am blessed with talent. I do indeed seem to have a wealth of imagination and a happy knack with words. Although I only have a smattering of French, I often answer quiz questions by spotting roots etc. I’m “lexic” and a dreamer for sure.

Someone recently pointed out that to be “published”; all you need to do is post your work on line for all to see. That’s true, and rather comforting. Yet it’s one thing to be “posted” and quite another to be “read” by many, highly rated or famous, or well paid.

I’ve posted 119 poems on the “Poemhunter” and received some nice comments. In fact I’ve posted most of the poems I’ve written. Unfortunately there are no statistics on the total views for each poem. I have also posted on “Voicesnet”, “Neopoet”, “Triond”, “Poetry and Friends” etc.

Neopoet are currently offline, but Voicesnet provide statistics on my total “hits”. For the record some of my most popular (viewed) pieces are:

“Champion” (poem) 4314 (is this correct?), “Territorial Animals” (blog), “The Meerkat Empire” (story) 300, “Man U Script” (joke poem) 575, “Seashore” (poem) 536, “Nothing Lasts” (poem) 243, “Humber Connexions RIP” (poem) 157, “Twin Warning” (poem) 133, “For Ever” and “Vista” (both poems) 121 each. Actually I have singled out poems mainly here, to compare like with like. I have some other well-viewed blogs, stories etc. too. “Well-viewed” for my stuff, that is.

As for money, well I once “received” £5 from “Forward Press” for a poem but they donated it to an animal charity. Meanwhile, over the past year or so I have “earned” the princely sum of 35 cents from “Triond”!
Actually I first started writing “compositions”, as they then called them, when I was an eight year old junior scholar. One teacher described my stories as “imaginative” and “colourful” amongst other things. At about nine I wrote a space story opening, “Five, four, three... Lift Off!” I vaguely remember writing stories about a “gladiator”, and “The Loch Ness” monster. Unfortunately the exercise books containing these gems vanished many years ago.

My first “published” piece was the non-fiction “Holiday On a Smallholding” in “Cadmus”, the “Cow Close County Secondary School” (later “Farnley High”) magazine. That was in my first year there, when I was about eleven. In my fourth year (now known as Year Ten) I had my first story published, again in “Cadmus”, entitled “Tramp”. (Around that time I had my only drawing published (in Cadmus again) called “Bikes”. Around this time I compiled numerous short stories, firstly football, then space, in my old exercise books and finally some loose-leaf folders. To be honest I achieved the “number” but not the quality!

From about sixteen I tried to write poems but struggled hopelessly with the technicalities. It was only when my English teachers at West Leeds Boys’ High Sixth Form explained about iambic metre, metaphor, assonance etc. that I started to produce anything acceptable. The first stanza of my poem “The Sea” (later reworked as “Seashore”) was published in the school magazine.

From 1970 to 1980 I achieved a third class Honours B. Ed. English Literature Degree at the now Huddersfield University (then under Leeds University) and spent six years teaching the then 16+ Qualification (later GCSE) English in a South Yorkshire 13-18 Comprehensive. Frankly, I hated teaching. I was left with no time for writing I’m afraid. No. That’s not true. I wrote endless journals, diaries and so forth. Yet nothing was published in any shape or form, until 1996!

In November 1995 I saw an advertisement in “Grimsby Target” (in a “The Phoenix” Chinese Takeaway, Cleethorpes) for poems required for a new anthology. I submitted my poem “Her Eyes” (amongst others), which was published in “Inspirations from Eastern England” (Anchor Books, Forward Press). Encouraged by this, I had a few poems, plus a story (“Power”), published with Forward Press, Penhaligon Page, “The Poetry Guild”, “Poetry in Print” (formerly “PIBI”), “The International Library of Poetry” etc. Later I was told that at least one of these is a “vanity publisher”: another lesson! (To be fair, real vanity publishing involves paying hundreds or thousands to have your novel in print...).

The highlight of this “phase” was when I had 15 poems published together called “A Storm of Perceptions” (1997 – Forward Press). My last poem published in print was “Poem” in “Poetry Now” magazine (1999 Forward Press).
During December 2000 I posted my poem “Liverpool” onto “poetry.com”, which I later discovered to be run by “International Poetry Library” (above). “Liverpool” has since vanished and “poetry.com” has become “Lulu.com” under new ownership. My first “permanent” posting was poem “Earth” onto Poemhunter (7th January 2007). The rest is history as they say.

“Neopoet” remains offline tonight (unusually). The conclusion to this story? Not sure really. Will just mention that I’ve entered the odd short story competition and reached the last few hundred or so, to be offered a “writing course”. Generally I’ve shied away from competitions to be honest. The notion of “competing” in a personal activity like creative writing seems abhorrent to me. I am happy to keep writing, or rather typing (!) and posting, for now.

Paul Butters

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