Having a publishing company or printing press has been a dream of mine for probably about the last ten years. I’ve been heavily steeped in poetry, probably all the way to my plain boring brown optics. But there is something to be said about the creation process. From simple air molecules that surround us, thoughts start to form, and we create because honestly, we do not know any better. As David Greshel from Neon Sunrise Publishing knows, there is a lot of work that goes into building a proper publishing company to host reputable writers -- looking to create a decent final artifact. When you take the work of another writer regardless of what genre that is their most sacred work – not just any publishing house will do. For more information on Neon Sunrise Publishing please follow David on Instagram @electricinfamy.
RMMW: Have you ever been creatively blocked? If yes, how did you overcome it?
DG: I’m genuinely impressed by anyone that can answer this question with a ‘no.’ I think every writer comes up against some form of creative block every now and again. It may not be very long or overly difficult to get past, but sometimes the flow just isn’t moving.
When the dry spells hit me, I tend to alternate between taking extended breaks without trying to write and sitting down and just writing something – anything – to get words on paper. It doesn’t matter if it’s absolute garbage (it usually is), the exercise serves to loosen the flow and the ideas start to surface. For poetry specifically, I like to search for writing prompts that help to spark imagination. My latest book – Fallen Sky, Bought and Sold – is a collection of monthly challenges I participated in during some of the dry spells.
RMMW: We all have to deal with an inner critic, how do you contend with yours?
DG: That inner critic is a right bastard sometimes. He knows all the right buttons to push when I’m feeling low. He isn’t all bad though – I think being our own toughest critic can help thicken the skin just a little bit. It prepares us for the slings and arrows of those on the outside.
If I hope to have an objective standard of what is “good” that I apply in reviewing the works of others, it would be dishonest to not apply that same standard when appraising my own work. What helps me to balance the criticism is remembering that my worth is not defined by the work I produce. I’ve mostly learned how to recognize when that inner critic is moving beyond the constructive and into the defeatist, but I still beat myself up on occasion. It happens a lot less often these days, though.
RMMW: Do you have any artist rituals before starting a new piece?
DG: I don’t really have any particular rituals that I go through when I start writing. The only thing that might be close would be that, since I do a lot of writing on my phone these days, I made a kind of deal with myself that I would try to write something any time I go out for a meal by myself (usually lunches on work days).
RMMW: What is Neon Sunrise Publishing's origin story?
DG: Back when I was in college, I was in a local band and wrote a song called Neon Sunrise. The band didn’t go anywhere, and the song was average, but I hung on to the name. When I decided I was going to self-publish my work in 2012 I wanted to have my own imprint associated with the publishing and I decided to resurrect Neon Sunrise.
Flash forward to 2018. I felt a calling that I was supposed to take Neon Sunrise beyond being just a vehicle for my own work, and a legitimate company was started in earnest. We’re still finding the path forward, but we have some cool things on the horizon for the latter half of 2019 and beyond.
DG: They’re quite a bit different, aren’t they? The publisher hat is still kind of shiny and new for me. It’s still being broken in, and with all DIY projects there’s a good bit of a learning curve. I do like the logistical challenge of seeing all of the disparate pieces pulled together into a cohesive product though.
I guess I will always prefer the writer hat, as I’ve been identifying as such for close to 30 years now.
RMMW: What inspires you to write?
DG: I feel like the inspirations have changed a good bit over the years. I started writing as a form of catharsis in my teen years. I didn’t have a good handle on how to adequately express what I was feeling in a healthy manner, so a lot of those emotions were channeled into notebooks and paper scraps.
Over the years, I’ve come to find inspiration to write in a lot of different avenues. Music, my faith, relationships I’ve been in (or the lack thereof), current events. There’s an entire world of inspiration out there if you’re willing to open yourself up to it.
RMMW: What’s your favourite genre to write in?
DG: The easy answer is to say poetry, as I feel quite comfortable with myself there. It’s like that old pair of jeans that you have that just feels right the second you put them on.
I’m branching out though and trying to push myself in new directions. I have several shot stories I’ve started over the years that I hope to finish for my next solo project, as well as some essay-styled material that I’ve been compiling on my blog.
RMMW: What kind of writers do you like to publish at Neon Sunrise Publishing?
DG: I am open to a multitude of different writing styles for Neon Sunrise. Poetry has been the starting point, along with a multi-genre anthology project. Coming up this year we have three poetry collections by a great Florida writer named Jason Lee and an anthology on Human Trafficking that will be used to raise awareness and charitable donations for organizations combating that terrible plague across the globe.
Later on, this year we will also be putting out a call for open submissions for our 2020 publishing slots. I don’t want to be defined by any single genre if it can be avoided.
RMMW: What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned having your own publication house?
DG: It takes more than just a desire to see your own work in print. That desire is the starting point, but there’s a lot of work that goes on to bring it from idea to finished product in your hands. Yes, there are some great companies out there that help to alleviate some of the difficulties of self-publishing, but you still need to put in the time and effort to get it finished.
I love the idea of doing it yourself, and to me there is nothing more satisfying as a writer than holding a physical book in your hands with your name on it. Neon Sunrise was created to help give other artists and authors a chance to experience that same feeling.
RMMW: Who are your favourite indie poets?
DG: Hmmm, there are several these days that I enjoy quite a bit. We could debate the relative merits of Instagram and other social media, but I love the fact that it’s helped me, and a lot of others find an audience for their work. Here’s a few of the people I dig reading whenever I see their work in my feed:
Kabrie Waters - @itskabes
Elizabeth Heffernan - @spellbell.poet
Katie Morris - @klmorris_poetry
Patrick John Ward - @poems_by_patrickjohnward
Stephen Piccone - @spwrites
RMMW: What do you feel are the biggest struggles facing independent writers?
DG: I think a lot of us would come up with a few different responses to this. For me, I think a major struggle is the marketing side of things. We pour our creativity into bringing the work to life and there’s often not enough left over to put towards developing something unique that will grab the reader’s attention. Luckily, there is a multitude of people and firms out there dedicated to helping you accomplish this – for the right price.
I think there’s also a struggle to balance the feeling and desire to be relevant in the genre you’re writing in. You want to be known and for people to enjoy the work, but you also don’t want to come off as egotistical and self-absorbed. We’re fighting for space and for recognition in a greater field of play without losing ourselves in the process.
RMMW: If you had a superpower what would it be?
DG: This one has so many potential choices for me, huge comic book fan that I am. If I had to narrow it down, I would want Wolverine’s healing factor and the cosmic power of the Silver Surfer or the power ring of Green Lantern.
Batman has always been one of my favorites though, because he doesn’t have actual superpowers and is still just as heroic.