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The FA Cup

It’s important to state that ASPA is not anti-traditional publishing. We respect anyone who is taking this route and understand how difficult it is to be accepted by an agent and a publisher.

We also welcome traditionally published authors to join ASPA, to share their expertise and experiences and we welcome those who want to try their own hand at selling more books by publishing themselves. One of our aims is that one day there won’t be such heavily drawn lines between how writers get books to market.

You will notice an earlier article called ‘writing for writing’s’ sake, and I concluded it is important to immerse yourself into the practice of this art without always thinking about financial reward or prizes. To some degree they will come, but you must want to write and participate in the process as well.

For me, it is important that the opportunity is there for everyone, although not everyone will want to do it and for some it will just be too difficult a process even with the support that’s on offer. Without making a big issue of it, I have had a life in which I’ve done many things, hopefully some successfully, which would not have been possible without the political changes that took place after the Second World War. That, of course, includes my health and yours too. Without the NHS, there were probably at least two occasions when I was a child when I would not have survived. Of course, at the same time, everyone in the UK was offered free education. It seems so long ago now that many may have forgotten what an astounding gift this was.

Considering my four grandparents, on one side there seems to be a military trail that went on forever: father who fought in the Second World War, grandfather who fought in the First World War, his father who fought in the Boer war et cetera but on my mother’s, mother’s side, it broke my heart to discover that in the Wigan area I had forbears going back many centuries who had worked down coal mines, some barely ever seeing the light of day and dying before their time of lung cancer, silicosis, pneumonia, emphysema and horrific accidents. For this reason, I have made sure I have taken advantage of every opportunity in my life, no matter how difficult it may have been, and I believe we all should.

I’m a little suspicious of workplaces, businesses, societies, or ‘closed shops,’ where there are regular prizes and competitions, especially when the same people seem to win time and time again. This is not to say that there isn’t excellence in every field, and we should applaud it.

It reminded me of this issue when I was recently talking about our prestigious FA Cup.

The generosity of spirit which has led to the survival and increased respect for this competition from people all over the world is mostly because it is a David versus Goliath competition. In theory, almost anyone who plays organised football on a Saturday can enter the FA Cup and win it. We all know that the odds would be limited for the ‘ASPA over 80s eleven’ to win the cup, but it is the opportunity itself which is heart-warming. This thought came to me as I was watching the documentary on the Disney channel about Wrexham football club and how two Hollywood stars had invested in it. Watching Wrexham play teams that were leagues above them astonished Ryan Reynolds and you only need to watch his reaction to see that he completely understood the jeopardy and drama involved in a competition where anyone can win. A bit like a real life Rocky Balboa situation, I suppose,

Where on earth is Rob going with this? Well, it would never happen in my life, but wouldn’t it be great to believe that there was an even playing field for the arts? At least the prospect of self-publishing offers that.

Every now and again, we get one of those uplifting stories, don’t we? By all accounts, you would not describe J. K. Rowling as a writer previously. All the odds were against her when she first had an idea for a story, and this excerpt from Wikipedia states it best:

“The seven-year period that followed (her idea) saw the death of her mother, the birth of her first child, divorce from her first husband, and relative poverty until the first novel in the series.”

Lee and I talk so much about how creative works come out of adversity, but while she was going through all this, she maintained a dogged belief that she could compete with those at the top of the greasy pole, and it is an admirable success story.

A perfect analogy for what I am talking about is what happened with the music industry between the 1940s and the late 1960s. It was a regulated industry with specific qualifications for each role and musicians were classically trained. I invite you to look at that timing because after 1945; we see the emergence of scruffy kids from all over the country beg, borrow or steal guitars, keys, drums, and basses and in no time, they were creating the music we listen to today.

I’m hoping that soon, the same thing will happen with writing.

So, whether you’ve started yet or you’re on your second or third book, keep the FA Cup trophy in mind and get training.


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