Inkspillers Raglan Writers Collective

For about a year, around eight or more local writers and illustrators, whose published books include fiction, non-fiction, memoir and poetry, have been meeting to support and encourage each other’s writing processes.

Like all artists, we’re opinionated. We’re also still figuring out what we do and what we could run in Raglan in the future. So far, we have a book stall at the Old School Creative Market, which is a great way to show Raglan who we are and what we do. We are hoping to run workshops in the future for those keen to start their own writing journey, or who want to complete a writing project. We will also have a presence at Hamilton Book Month, where local writers present their books and talk about their writing processes.

Inkspillers is an old reference to the days of ink, of course, and the quill, where in the urgency to complete a decorated manuscript it would be covered in spillage and blots, and maybe tears of frustration and futility. Writing anything is a lot like that: an emotional seesaw in the confines of your computer or notebook; riddled with the perpetual swing between self-assured genius and paralyzing self-doubt.

Why the hell would anyone write a book? I ask myself this often while I sit on one poetry novella completed, and several manuscripts in various stages of sorting and completion, or fall over and abandonment, depending on the weather or my mood.

When you have your published book in your hand, it is very exciting. All that hard work of writing and editing is done, your manuscript copy edited (hopefully free of mistakes), and printed and launched. It is only the beginning though … of a long process to get your work out in the world. What next? It’s tempting to ask: Why did I ever start? Why are writing ghosts haunting me? Writers are strange obsessive creatives, often working and living inside imaginary worlds they create that no-one else has access to until their book is published. Usually by then, the writer is well over it and onto the next one, or two or three, and a holiday in a tropical paradise looks like heaven.

If you are published by someone other than yourself, all the business of writing and publishing is mostly handled by your publisher, or your agent if you have the good fortune to have an agent. You are still expected to provide info for the media, and to self-promote, particularly these days through social media, where possible. That’s a big ask for some of us.

When you self-publish, all the business end of writing is in your hands. All the promo, social media engagement, marketing and distribution is yours to manage. It’s a good and a bad thing, both exciting and exhausting. However, the rewards of such perseverance can be financial if you’re onto it (although, in truth, very few writers make even the minimum wage) and the satisfaction of being in control of your own creative business is invaluable.

The primary business of Inkspillers, then, is to provide a forum in Raglan for published writers to share information about publishing, whether it’s to submit to outside publishers, or to self-publish, and to support writers with a finished working manuscript through the processes and pitfalls.

The second priority for us is to look at shared marketing, publicity and promotional possibilities for the books we have already written and are currently working on. As such, we are not a creative writing group (we don’t usually share our work in progress, although a finished manuscript might do the rounds, for copy edit and feedback).

Similarly, we are not a book club, although we do share our reading lists (invaluable for all writers) and favourite books. We are also continually discussing ways to encourage and support creative writing and book activities in our community.

In the immediate future, we are excited to announce that we are coordinating two events in Raglan to celebrate NZ National Poetry Day on 23 August 2019:

Youth Slam Event on Thursday 22 August, at the Old School Arts Centre, for anyone under 18 a Spoken Word and Open Mic Night on Friday 23 August, at the Raglan Club.

Both these events kick off at 7pm, have koha or gold coin entry, and are open to all forms of the spoken word – poetry, song, slam, rant. All you poets, scribes and songsters, come along and share your work. Short and sweet.

Register on the night for both events or beforehand by emailing sarah@ sarahjohnson.co.nz

Over the next few weeks, some of our Inkspillers members will be writing about their work and their writing processes. All for the love of words!

Wanda Barker, Inkspillers Raglan