Writing Down Deep: becoming a story of generosity, attention and creativity
For almost fifteen years I’ve been running an independent publishing house, Cinnamon Press. Coming up to its fifteenth anniversary has given me pause to think about what an amazing story to live through this has been. We started with a poetry magazine, printed one copy at a time on a home printer, then a poetry competition snowballed into a couple of beautiful collections. And, within a few years, we found ourselves publishing twenty and eventually thirty or more books a year.
It’s a story that only persisted because of a community of wonderful authors, readers and supporters. These were people who not only wanted to write and/or read great fiction and poetry, but pitched in to save the press during a funding crisis in 2012. They gave gifts of time, money and expertise, enabling Cinnamon not only to survive but to grow stronger and more inventive.
Cinnamon Press is proudly different. We’ve stayed passionate about publishing small wonders from distinctive voices; books not defined by genre but by their unique ability to provoke thought and to say something innovative. We value independence of thought in our authors and in how we work and we’re determined to stay outward-looking, with authors from all over the world.
We run on shoestring budgets assisted by the fabulous Books Council of Wales, the amazing support and marketing services of Inpress Books and because we’ve learnt that improvisation is a skill that doesn’t only apply to theatre.
We don’t do social media as we found it neither innovative nor supportive of independent thought. Instead we value a community of readers and writers who don’t so much buy our books and courses as participate in our story by investing their time and resources with us.
As well as publishing gorgeous books of poetry and fiction, we’ve always had a smattering of creative nonfiction. And we put a lot of stress on author development, not only in editing but also in mentoring and courses, including an exciting venture in master-classes.
Coming up to the anniversary year has made us think about how to engage with more writers in creative ways. There are so many writers who are hungry to push not only their craft but also the depth of their writing and their commitment to their art. Developing a writing life is a huge and rewarding process, but also one that often requires a few fellow travellers and some creative input.
This is something I’m passionate about and I blog weekly on the writing life over at Becoming a Different Story. In addition to weekly posts there’s also a range of courses (including several free ones and free taster sessions) that focus on writing through the seasons, journalling, creative writing processes and establishing a writing life.
An imprint for the deep stuff
At some stage, most writers want more than simple ‘how to’ manuals and Becoming a Different Story aims to offer some deep nourishment for the writing soul.
I love working with writers. It’s wonderful to see new writers gaining confidence and good writers pushing themselves to become increasingly excellent, to never stand still. So Cinnamon Press will be celebrating the 15th anniversary with the launch of a new imprint, Down Deep Books.
It will exist to help writers explore and develop their writing processes and writing lives. This is not so much the mechanics of writing (there are tons of good books out there on this) but the deep stuff –
- from why we write to how we build a life around writing,
- from the values a writing life might entail to the radical practises of writers exploring fluid identities or working in innovative ways.
Generosity, attention, creativity
The core values of Down Deep Books are
- Radical generosity
- Deep attention
- Transformative creativity
Radical generosity to ourselves, our writing, and all we connect to, involves slowing down enough to dive into the sediment of ourselves, to emerge as writers of skill and imagination.
Deep attention opens us to flow and crafting. Deep attention makes us listen within — to our vision and passions, and without — to how we can reach out to the world.
Transformative creativity changes the stories we write and stories we want to live by. Transformative creativity enhances our quests to live good and meaningful lives.
Alchemy for your writing life
We will be launching Down Deep Books with Writing Down Deep; an alchemy of the writing life.
The book takes elements refined from two years of blog posts on writing plus lots of new material and hundreds of new writing exercises written to match each section:
- craving the writing life
- the mindset of the writer
- the writing process
- embodying the writing life
- writing the soul.
The book also includes ‘interludes’ to facilitate mini writing retreats through the year, each with plenty of insightful prompts.
And we’d love you to be part of it.
So how can you get involved?
Writing Down Deep; an alchemy of the writing life, is a response to many of you — to questions from writers, to feedback to the blogs and online courses, to writers on residential courses talking about the resources they need.
This is the book that many of you have told us you need to help you design your writing life or grow more deeply into it. So the title is collaborative in its genesis and in its contents — filled with resources to help writers make breakthroughs and to develop writing processes and writing lives that they love.
And we’re also inviting you to collaborate in getting the book out into the world.
We will publish two editions of the book: a big handsome paperback and a limited edition hardback. And, to help with publishing on a shoestring, we’ll use crowd funding and early bird funding. For everyone who gets involved, there are exciting thank you gifts and there will also be surprise extras along the way.
The courage to become a different story
Down Deep Books will exist to help writers develop more humane rhythms, embracing the need to miss out on things that never mattered anyway in order to value their quality of art and life, and to make space for experiences of kairos (moments of truth, epiphany and connection). We hope you will get involved and you can find out more here about how to help us publish books for writers on a quest for
- process over outcomes
- values to sustain their writing lives
- courage to become a different story
Every pledge will make a big difference. Thank you for reading.
An invitation to become your story
Thank you for reading — I’d love to help you as you transform your story.
Sign up to my email list and I’ll send you a free PDF on writing and the writing life. On the website, you’ll also find free courses, Setting Out, Giving yourself time to become a different story and Finding the rhythms of your different story as well as tasters for the paid courses so you can dip in and see for yourself. And while you’re there, don’t forget to take a look at what we’re doing with Down Deep Books.