Getting into writing – an interview with Sam Rose of Peeking Cat Poetry

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My name is Sam Rose and I’m a writer, poet and editor from Northamptonshire, England. I am the editor of Peeking Cat Poetry Magazine and The Creative Truth. Peeking Cat Poetry Magazine has until now been a monthly magazine showcasing mainly poetry but also flash fiction from new and established writers all over the world. The Creative Truth is a quarterly creative non-fiction magazine. Both magazines have previously been available in print and as free downloadable PDFs. However, due to my illness, both magazines are currently on hiatus. I’m wading through submissions for Peeking Cat Poetry, and the successful submissions will be published in this year’s anthology. When we reopen for submissions, both magazines may come back in a different format, which is yet to be finalised. This is a turning point for the magazines, and I hope when we do come back we will be bigger and better than ever.

Why did you start your publication?

I started Peeking Cat Poetry Magazine in July 2013. I had originally created a previous magazine, Blinking Cursor, which came about when I discovered people were making poetry books using print on demand companies, and I realised that I could do something similar. I was excited by the thought of doing something new and creative with other writers. Blinking Cursor stopped after a few issues due to time constraints, but months later I was sitting at my desk at my day job, just doodling, and I drew a picture of a cat. It looked like a cat sort of peering – or peeking, of course, around a wall. The logo for Peeking Cat Poetry was born that day, and the magazine came soon after.

What is the most gratifying element of publishing the written word?

I love to receive submissions I get excited by. When I receive a poem that I love, that expresses something in a beautiful way or makes me feel something, I want to be the publisher that helps those words find their audience. And working with the great writers who submit to Peeking Cat is a joy. I publish both new and returning writers to the magazine, and it is very rewarding for us all to share our love of writing and to enjoy the magazine together.

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What are your happiest memories in your writing/publishing career?

In 2017 I released the second annual Peeking Cat Anthology, and it was very well received. When the book launched I ran an event on Facebook which involved showing videos of the contributors reading their poems, running contests and giving away prizes, and sharing writer interviews. I had never done anything like that before and it was a great success. On a personal level, completing my MA Creative Writing course with Distinction, studying part time while working at my full-time job, is one of my greatest achievements. The course was a lot of fun, a great challenge, and one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

How do you handle success and failure?

I’ve been submitting my work to literary journals, magazines and anthologies since I was 17, so I’ve had a lot of rejections and therefore a lot of opportunity to grow a thick skin. If my work is rejected from one publication, that just gives me the opportunity to offer it elsewhere. Submitting work is a bit like dating – if it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t mean the work is no good. It just means it isn’t a good fit. In terms of success, I like to promote myself and bask in it a little whenever I get published, but it isn’t long until I’m back to writing and looking for a home for my next poem.

What makes you write when you’re exhausted and your fingers ache?

It’s the need to get things down. When I’m not writing poetry I’m writing non-fiction in the form of blog posts, essays or memoir, and that’s where the urge to write at all costs usually lies. If I really want to be productive but I’m uninspired or it all seems too difficult, I might do a free write, just to get something down, even if it’s nonsense.

What is your advice to young and new writers?

Take yourself seriously. You are a writer the minute you decide to commit yourself to the craft, so don’t be afraid to call yourself a writer and start putting yourself out there. Everyone has to start out somewhere. We all start off a bit wobbly, we all have off-days, and we all get rejected. What makes us writers is that we don’t stop writing. Keep going, write what you are passionate about, and enjoy it.

Are you a traditionalist or a digital? (paper or eBook)

I have a Kindle, to save shelf space more than anything else. I like being able to take lots of books with me when I’m travelling, so I find it quite practical. Though of course, a paperback won’t run out of battery. And there is something that’s simply more enjoyable about reading a physical book – the smell, the feel of the pages, the look of the print, the front cover. The tactile aspect is still a big part of reading I think, so while I like my Kindle, I prefer a paperback.

Do you blog?

We have a sporadically updated blog at https://www.peekingcatpoetry.co.uk and I blog personally at https://www.writersam.co.uk. This is where I put some of my own poems, my publication announcements, and general updates about my life. I’m a cancer survivor (currently a cancer patient for the second time, unfortunately) and a lot of my blog, as well as my poetry and non-fiction writing in general, is centred around this.

Do you self-publish?

I self-published one poetry book in 2015, and if my next collection doesn’t get picked up by a publisher, I would certainly consider self-publishing again.

If you have a publication or promotion – tell us.

My poetry book Empowerthy is currently available on Amazon. Previous copies of Peeking Cat Poetry Magazine can be found at https://peekingcatpoetry.co.uk/issues, and copies of The Creative Truth can be found here: http://www.creativetruth.co.uk/issues.

Include back links to your site/blog/or publishing venues.

My blog: https://www.writersam.co.uk

Peeking Cat Poetry Magazine: https://www.peekingcatpoetry.co.uk

The Creative Truth: http://www.creativetruth.co.uk

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