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I was delighted to get a five-star rave for my first column from the Skibbereen Eagle Online: ‘We have our eye on Kaiser Wilhelm, the Emperor of Russia, and this boyo. All will go far.’ Others, however, were less enthusiastic. The environmental lobby took issue with my casual reference to best vellum. Check the text. ‘I’m writing this on best pink vellum’ quote unquote. Incandescent of Sallynoggin had a good long rant about Amazonian rainforests, our children’s children and, possibly a sign that you should do a spell check before clicking send, the deleterious effects of warble gloaming. All occasioned by my cavalier use of paper.
But back to the vellum. Here’s the dictionary definition:
Vellum |?vel?m| noun
- fine parchment made originally from the skin of a calf.
- smooth writing paper imitating vellum.
With me? See where I’m going with this? Want me to spell it out? I never use paper, Incandescent. Calf skin. Always calf skin.
On a more personal level, I’ve been heavily criticised for placing my own name nine times in the aforementioned piece. Wrong. All Ian Macphersons were other Ian Macphersons, so kindly direct your accusations of narcissism (23), solipsism (37), and egomania (my alleged sister Bláithín and several co-signatories) elsewhere. To counterbalance this I’ve had one reference to my becoming modesty in the face of these scurrilous and highly vindictive allegations. As I sent it myself, however, it probably doesn’t count.
But to business. Gnarled Tree Press is to open a Dublin office. More particularly, a Clontarf office. I chose the location myself as I have many happy memories of growing up in this loveliest of suburbs. And it is indeed lovely. But it’s also steeped in the bitter narratives of our dark and troubled past. I’ve written a poem on the subject. Here it is.
A SHORT AND HIGHLY PERSONAL IRISH HISTORY LESSON
I grew up in Clontarf
named after the Battle
A defining moment in the history of our tragic yet curiously comic
and one which still
has the power
Neighbour from neighbour.
Father from son.
And my Aunt Brigid hasn’t spoken to me
since I was 13.
But that’s a separate matter
And in mitigation I can only say
she should have
This masterpiece of geo-poetic art is available in my latest slim volume, Probably The Finest Limerick Ever Written About Newtownmountkennedy and Other Poems Of Place. But don’t all rush to submit your own slim volume. Have a look at our submissions page first. It’s what I did in the early days of my award-littered career, with unexpected results. Here, in all its subversive glory, it is.
POPULAR MISCONCEPTIONS IN SUBMITTING MANUSCRIPTS
MAKE SURE IT’S LEGIBLE
Wrong. It’s a short step from legibility to conformity to school uniforms to fascism. Would Finnegans Wake have found a publisher if anyone had been able to read it? Check out our pamphlet ‘Write And Get Laid For It’, available free with every copy of ‘Learn To Tope The Easy Wax’.
SUBMIT THROUGH AN AGENT
Wrong again. There’s no point contacting an agent. They’re inundated. Besides, agents have the highest suicide rate of any profession – if you can call it a profession. Better to chuck it straight in the bin. That way you cut out the middleman.
DON’T TELL US YOUR MOTHER LIKED IT
Wrong on two counts. Firstly, your mother wouldn’t lie to you. Secondly, the world is full of mothers – and they do talk to each other.
QUALITY WILL OUT
The biggest wrong of all. It’s impossible to find a publisher if you’ve got a reputation as somebody no-one’s ever heard of. Remember the three golden rules for success as a writer: self-publicity, self-publicity, self-publicity. Spend less time polishing your prose and more on social networking sites. Better still, get someone else to write the book for you. That way you can spend the whole day tweeting about yourself.
SEND YOUR MANUSCRIPT STRAIGHT TO GNARLED TREE PRESS
Too obvious. Surprise us!
So I did. The matter is actually sub judice, but I’d just like to say that I was wearing flesh coloured ankle socks, so I wasn’t technically naked, and the Dalai Lama’s involvement was just happy chance. He seemed a bit upset about it at the time, but as I said to him, three million hits on You Tube? We must have been doing something right.
© Ian Macpherson 2015
Ian Macpherson’s The Book of Blaise was published in October 2015. Details on website: www.ianmacpherson.net