Friday, 15 February 2013

Commit To Your Community

“This is a blog for Indie writers everywhere, right?” you ask.

“Absolutely!” I reply looking sincere.

“So why is this Eto magazine you seem to be spending so much time on exclusively for Welsh writers and not everyone then?” a hint of accusation in your voice.

“I can best answer that by telling you a true story.” I reply.

So here it is

The story takes place back in the dim distant past when I still had black hair and computers hadn’t begun to roam the earth. I was head teacher of a small village school at the top end of the Rhondda Valley called Blaencwm. Blaencwm nestled snugly among the mountains and if it snowed there was no way in or out. It truly was a very close knit community.

At one time a tunnel had been driven through the mountain at the top end of the village to provide easy access to places like Aberavon, a staggering feat of engineering. When the government instigated cuts to the railway network in the 60’s Blaencwm was left stranded on the economic beach with no hope of the tide ever turning. My years spent in this vibrant community were among the happiest of my life.

“All very nice.” I hear you say. “But what’s the point?”

One day during a drama lesson a little girl said to me. “My Uncle’s a writer.” My response was something condescending like, “That’s nice.” While secretly hoping it wasn’t the school wall he had daubed with graffiti.

The little girl’s name was Elaine Berry. Her uncle was Ron Berry.

Niall Griffiths has described Ron Berry’s novel ‘SO LONG HECTOR BEBB’ as “one of the greatest novels to come out of the twentieth century.” 

Ron Berry was probably living in Blaencwm, or very close by, at the time. It frustrates the hell out of me to think I could have actually met him. Here was a writer ignored by the world at large and relatively unknown in his own community. Having just read his book for the first time I realise what an opportunity was lost. Never in a million years could I hope to write something like that!

Now as a writer myself I feel a responsibility to my own community. Eto is one of the ways in which I hope to discharge that responsibility by providing a platform for local authors so that writer’s of the future will be less likely to suffer the fate that Ron Berry endured. A towering talent that very few people knew existed.

So having answered your question let me ask you one.

“What commitment are you prepared to make to writers within your community wherever you live?”
As Ron said through one of his characters:

We’re each and every one of us shaped for muck and glory, thank the Jesus Christ All-bloody-mighty for it an all.

1 comment:

  1. I'll refer to a meeting I recently had with you and Glyn Scott, Phil. Sharing insights and information was both pleasurable and helpful. It's good to share a passion for reading, creative writing and improving literacy and numeracy standards from many perspectives. For my part, I write for children and I'm grateful for so much support from the writing community so that my efforts may hopefully play a part in encouraging a love of reading as far as books and technology can reach these days. Supporting fellow-writers is intrinsic to the whole process, without a doubt.