Monday, February 7, 2022

UK-Based Author and Publisher Dawn Bauling Chats on Submissions and the Writing Journey

Author Dawn Bauling is editor of The Dawntreader quarterly, the highest circulation magazine of Indigo Dreams Publishing (IDP), based in the UK and formed by Dawn and her and her partner, Ronnie Goodyer, in 2009. Here, Dawn answers questions about what she looks for in submissions to The Dawntreader and about her own journey as a poet, writer, author and publisher.

What do you look for in submissions to The Dawntreader?
It’s quite an alchemy of things, really. Initially, I like the courtesy of someone emailing and contacting me by name, and getting it right! I’m enraged by being called Sir, Balding and/or Dennis! A brief covering letter is always good, too. You can tell a lot from that, even before you open the submission – arrogance is not winsome, and poems as attachments with no introduction makes a publisher think there’s no thought; overly long and detailed isn’t helpful to a busy publisher either. I need to know that the person sending knows what the magazine is all about and wants to be part of it.

The Dawntreader is themed to the spiritual, nature, myth and legend, love and the environment, so work must meet that [criterion] first and foremost. This all happens before I even read the work. I do read every submission, however, as I know how much effort and nerve may be needed to send work out. That’s important to us as IDP. I do, therefore, read a lot of poetry! When I read, I want to be surprised. I want fresh language, new insights, space to contemplate and walk with the writer. I need to know that the writer has taken care with their craft, spent time selecting words, like a painter chooses color. I want to be challenged, too, not to sit too comfortably. It’s disappointing to be led into a piece of writing and then to finish with a feeling of, “So what!” Equally, I don’t want to be berated, or given a lecture.

And … as a cheeky tip … I’m a pushover for a good title! It’s like an irresistible “come hither” to me. All that said, lots of people do get it absolutely right. I have so much good work on file, waiting to appear in The Dawntreader – prose and poetry – a lot have real fire attached, simmering, ready for publication. Who can refuse work like that!

What writing projects are you working on at the moment?
At IDP, we are taking a more bespoke approach to 2022, with mostly competitions and commissioned projects ahead: collaborations with Leeds Trinity University, an anthology aimed at supporting the work of The League Against Cruel Sports (my partner, Ronnie Goodyer, is their Poet in Residence), and those authors whose work we love and want to showcase. I won’t name them, as I’m bound to miss one off. Please visit Indigo Dreams Publishing to have a look.

2022 is the first year we haven’t had an open window for collection publications, so we are seeing where that leads us. We also wanted to make time for our own writing, which has been put on something of backburner over the last two years. Personally, as a poet, I have a several embryonic writing projects on the go. I have been asked by my Twitter followers to pull together some of my Twitter posts (@wavelace) into a pamphlet. Ronnie and I are joining forces again, after the success of our collaboration in Forest moor or less. We love France and Corfu, and have quite a few scribblings from our times there. We are told that our poetry voices make quite a nice harmony, so it’ll be nice to sing again along together. We’ve still not settled on a title so, or finished 50% of the work so, more on that story later.

What are some writing challenges you've worked through, and how have you addressed them?
My main writing challenge is time. As well as being a publisher, I work part-time for the NHS [National Health Service], in our local surgeries. You can only begin to imagine what the last two years have been like, so juggling shifts and poetry, publishing and vaccination clinics has been a real challenge. I love both but knew that I had to make a change last year, to get a bit of balance back.

I broke my leg at Christmas 2020 and spent the first part of 2021 recovering and learning to walk again. It gave me time and perspective. So, thanks to my incredible NHS managers and colleagues, I am now only working two days a week as the local Primary Care Network media officer. I have more time, less stress and am just beginning to feel like a writer again, picking up my own pen, rather than helping everyone else sharpen theirs.

What one thing would you want writers to know that could make a difference in their writing and/or writing life?
I went on an Arvon Course about 20 years ago when I first started taking my writing seriously. My tutor was David Hart, who sadly has just passed away. He told me to take my work and cut it by 50%, read it again and then cut another 25%, if possible. That way you get parfum and not eau de toilette! He told me to dare to be dangerous that way. It’s not always easy, as I’m a naturally shy kind of person, but as a quiet person, he also gave me the confidence to dare to shout. I try to pass that on to lots of people – in my NHS work as well. It has certainly helped me. Don’t give the reader everything, let them walk with you, give them space to wander in your words and don’t ever be afraid.

What else would you like to add?
Without a shadow of a doubt, I have “met” some of the most wonderful people in my poetry life. I found Ronnie through poetry, by reading one of his collections and word-wooing him until he said yes! I have also found some of the closest kindred spirits through being an editor. It feels less of a job and more of a lifestyle, as necessary as a limb. We live in a beautiful forest in Devon, but when I open my laptop I find the world and its people and all the reasons I need!

Author Dawn Bauling and her partner, Ronnie Goodyer, formed Indigo Dreams Publishing in 2009. They offer a breadth of knowledge and understanding about what it means to be a published author today and how to enjoy it to the max. They live in a wooden house in the middle of Cookworthy Forest, Devon, with their rescue blue merle collie, Mist. The Dawntreader quarterly is IDP’s highest-circulation magazine, with an international readership that offers writers and readers a chance to let the imagination run free.

1 comment:

Julia Duke said...

Thanks for the tip on ruthless cutting of work, Dawn. Wise advice - so hard to do - but your parfum/eau de cologne distinction is motivating!