OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe expression, ‘emerging writers’ has popped up in my consciousness several times recently, in the editorials of various Indie publications.

It raises some questions, the most obvious being, from what, and into what? There are some equally obvious putative answers: from obscurity into celebrity, for example. There is the more metaphorical option too: from darkness into light.  And note that it is the writer that is assumed to be emerging, rather than the writing. Some assumptions stand behind that, I think.

Emerging is a process, and as such might be transposed into a trajectory, and trajectories are a popular attribute of writers viewed over the time-span of their ‘careers.’ But if we’re talking about gaining public attention – careful with my ls there – perhaps the trajectory is ours? Writers might be emerging, but is it  our perception of them, as readers,  that is changing? A.E. Coppard, for example, was said to have a shed-load of stories written before he was first published. His emergence, arguably, was a reflection of how well he was known, rather than how well he was writing. The same might be said of poets like Gerard Manly Hopkins, and even more so of Emily Dickinson. Do we readers, emerge from ignorance into awareness?

When it comes to ‘getting known,’ which is what ‘emerging’ seems to be about, as the term is currently used, individual pieces of writing could also said to be going through it. Even writers who, as individuals might be seen as being still in the larval stage, can have poems, or stories, that seem to have emerged quite a long way.

I wrote a very short poem a very long time ago, which seemed to emerge, being picked up by more than one publication, including a local newspaper (I suspect the brevity was the attraction). It also won a local competition, and I have since recorded it for Vimeo. (So Still, read by Mike Smith on Vimeo at BHDandME).

A short story of mine has also developed a life of its own…being published – hacked to death, and without my knowledge or permission, put on a website by an editor who removed it when I offered readers of my blog a comparison with the original – he became abusive, and told me it was a rubbish story anyway, which of course, after his treatment, it was! – Highly Commended in a competition, published online, and then in a printed ‘Winners’ anthology (HISSAC 2015), download (1)included in CUT’s downloadable short stories, recorded for Vimeo, due out in an Inktears anthology, and, taking me by surprise again, appearing in the Eden Arts online magazine The Carrot#2 http://www.thecarrot.org.uk/category/issue-2-killing/. This story, (The Turkey Cock) has definitely emerged, with or without me!

There are other qualities of emergence though, which might be relevant to writers and writing: vulnerability, and exposure, for example, but those editorials always imply the ‘from obscurity’ trajectory, and it always the writer, rather than the writing. It’s this focus on the singer not the song, that hallmarks our ‘celebrity’ conscious society. We celebrate individuals, not primarily for what they are doing, or have done, but for being ‘known’ …for having emerged. But as writers, should we be striving for our own emergence, or for that of our work? Are the poems, or the stories, or whatever Art form we work in, the means by which we get to be celebrated, or are we the means by which they do?


Meanwhile plans progress for Bordelines, Carlisle Book Festival (http://www.borderlines.co.uk) on the first weekend of September (4th-6th). Today we popped up our pop-up Gazebo for the OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPop-up Bookshops. Needless to say it didn’t pop quite as poppingly as we hoped it might, but after a few teething problems it popped well enough, and so we popped it down again. We’ll be popping it for the OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Writers Quarter on Saturday 5th Spetember, on the grass outside the Great East Window of the Cathedral. We’ll be selling books by local writers from 10.00am till 4.00pm, so come along and make our day (we’d be blown away if you did – but hopefully won’t be otherwise!).