INTERVIEW: HCE MEETS PAUL GRIMSLEY
FORGE NETTING BY PAUL GRIMSLEY
£10.83 /96 pages
Paul Grimsley is, in his own words, a “prolific poet and multi-genre writer; made in the UK, re-tooled in the US of A”. Across more than seventy books of poetry and four collections of short stories, Paul’s engaging lyricism boots down the door of literary convention, brandishing a challenge to his readers’ intellects. He is the enterprising founder of numerous websites and projects, continually firing out innovative ideas that enable writers to embrace the digital age and connect in mutually-beneficial exchanges – and, importantly, actually puts these into action. Ever community-minded, Paul often seems like a one-man search party on the outskirts of the mainstream, striving to collaborate with, and promote, the other creative minds who cross his path.
HCE made contact with Paul, to find out what he’s been up to recently.
When did you first know you were a writer?
Before I ever wrote a word, I was telling stories to myself. I actually drew a whole host of characters that were original when I was pretty young. I drew comics before I started on poetry and prose. I wrote a novel for my GCSEs, and then by the time of A-Levels I had enough of a reputation for how good my poetry was that they gave me a whole class in A-Level English where me and a bunch of people read my poetry. The thing though which really nailed it was an art teacher that came in and turned me off art, and then I found myself feeling freer with the written word.
How often do you write a poem? Do you have a fixed writing routine?
Every day I write something, pretty much. I created two or three things that guilt me into writing: Day Event Pomes and Regular Movement, which got me producing at a high level. I had a blog I was writing called PSG Daily that gave me a chance to write an essay or a short piece on where my head was at on a daily basis. And if I was blocked I created something called A Place For Block Thoughts to work through the problem.
Superstitions? To not have any rules as to where and when you can write because that builds a cage around you. Learn to write anywhere.
Would you say your work has any recurring themes?
The nature of what it is to be human – that carries through the poetry and the fiction. The nature of time and reality also come under a lot of scrutiny. And identity. So, all the big ones.
Who/what are the biggest influences on your work?
I would say jazz and punk music in equal amounts – Ornette Coleman’s Harmalodics are a big thing, coupled with The Clash and PIL. As far as writing – there is a pull between straight story tellers like Stephen King and Ray Bradbury, and more experimental stuff like Kerouac, Burroughs, and Ginsberg, with Atwood and Winterson playing a real important role in making me aware of the difference between male and female narratives and the way they unpack.
Tell us a bit about Musehick Publications.
The tagline for the company is “Books that matter”. It spent about 10 years as a vehicle for self-publishing. And in the last two has shifted become a house for me to seek out publish new talent. I am looking for people and voices that wouldn’t necessarily see the light of day otherwise. I want it to be big so that I can create a paying market and reverse the notion that art doesn’t pay, because that is BS when you look around you and see exactly how much money and influence it exerts on every area of culture. I have a mission to rehabilitate those who thought their art and writing was gone from their lives. I have a desire to put out high quality products that raise the game for Independent Publishing, and I want to make the whole process of getting published by someone that can recognise the quality in your work and wants to publish it less painless, and more A to B.
What are the key elements Musehick Publications is looking for; what makes work stand out when you’re reading through it?
It has to be real and honest – that’s the real decider. If it needs polish I can work with that – but if it comes off as phony, or derivative, I’m gonna pass on it. Also, if the writer can’t accept any direction and I have to argue them into publishing with me, I’ll pass. My relationships with my writers so far has been easy – we have become friends if we weren’t before. That is who I want to work with.
What turns you off a submission straight away?
Bad grammar and spelling don’t matter – originality does…it jumps off the page, as does poor copying.
If people are too skint to buy a book right now, what’s the next best way they can support their favourite indie publishers?
Honestly? Don’t download illegal books. Ask your library to buy in copies. Even contact the publisher and help them supply copies to your library.
Thanks to all the collaborations you’ve been involved with, you’re basically at the centre of a massive network of creative individuals with an array of skills, talents and experience. Can you offer some advice for people hoping to form/reach out to a mutually-beneficial network (for example, to get a project off the ground)?
Flow power to other people in the creative field – when you get asked to contribute, do. When you want to do a project yourself, ask. And the thing is, I go into most of these with no notion of recompense in monetary terms, because I am trying to program the environment and create a market for mine and my friends’ work, by helping it get out there. I buy as many of my friends’ works as I can, and I talk them up whenever I can. Art can change the world, but it starts with a commitment to that art – the creation and the purchase of it.
Do you engage with arts communities purely online? For example, have you ever taught workshops face-to-face?
I ran a spoken word night for a few years. I talk to writers one on one, and I offer my services to help debug any issues people are having with writing wherever I can.
You’re good at getting yourself and your work out there. Do you have any tips for writers re: self-promotion?
Make friends. Support your friends. Friends will talk about you and tell their friends. And you always have a pool of people you can pull from for projects too. And the other thing? Never complain about other writers buying your stuff – they are good indicators of the quality of your work, and they are good front-runners in the battle of promotion.
What have you been reading lately – anything you’d recommend we check out?
Lavie Tidhar’s Central Station is an amazing and vibrant take on science fiction. Track down some Laurie Penny for the best journalism. Poetrywise, I honestly believe you can find some of the best poets writing for my imprint. Anything that Zero Books puts out is interesting.
What are you currently working on? Any upcoming gigs/books/future projects?
The two biggest things are a huge interconnected set of books, one called Fiction Designate, and one called This Burning World, which should turn up if you Google them. I write on Regular Movement all the time. Beef Stew Third Eye on Facebook is being updated regularly, and Preeks.
Plug some website/social media links here:
Anything we didn’t cover that you wanted to share with HCE’s readers?
Art shouldn’t be hard. Art does make money, and you can make a living doing what you want to do. Look around you and you will see art – the greatest lie told to artists is that there is no money in it, and that you have to suffer for your art. It shouldn’t be that Basquiat died how he did and then his art posthumously becomes super-valuable – it reveals the lie. And anyone who says to do something more practical misunderstands that art is something you practice, and it is something that produces something – what could be more practical?