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On The Table Read Magazine, “the best book magazine in the UK“, author Sean BW Parker talks about the experiences that inspired him to writehi s new book, Compelling Speech: The Stammering Enigma.
Written by JJ Barnes
I interviewed Sean BW Parker about the work that went into his latest book, Compelling Speech: The Stammering Enigma, and the experiences that inspired him to write it.
To learn more about Sean’s life and career, and his previous work, check out my interview with him about his previous work, States Of Independence.
How long did it take you to complete your latest book from the first idea to release?
About four years, though I’ve had the idea since my first proper adult speech therapy in 2004, at the City Lit in London.
What made you want to write Compelling Speech: The Stammering Enigma?
Though I have a bag of tricks for dealing with it, stammering is core to who I am as a writer and artist, for better or worse. As anyone who’s read my other books knows I can be fairly analytical, and one of the central tenets of counselling is also ‘working on’ yourself. How much of my being a writer is about also being a person who stammers? Possibly quite a lot. I go into this in the book.
What were your biggest challenges with writing Compelling Speech: The Stammering Enigma?
It was written while I was on a sort of enforced sabbatical on Dartmoor, and then lockdown arrived in the middle of it, which was as barmy there as anywhere else. It’s also autobiographical so there’s a requirement to delve into the corners. I didn’t want anything extraneous, so it went through a series of edits to make it as lean as it could be. All of that’s pretty challenging.
What was your research process for Compelling Speech: The Stammering Enigma?
A lived knowledge of therapeutic processes and the thinking underlying them. Since the age of five, and living with the mystery of what’s going on inside the mouth, I’d analysed it enough myself. That knowledge helps in eventually realising that it’s not a life or death sentence, and there are coping strategies. Eventually we, as people who stammer, start to understand what we’re doing, why we’re doing it and how to get by. Easing the stammer through speaking as much as you can helps (without wanting to bore people).
How did you plan the structure of Compelling Speech: The Stammering Enigma?
It’s a condensed life timeline, slipping in experiential anecdotes, observations from culture (A Fish Called Wanda, Life Of Brian, Gareth Gates, The King’s Speech etc) along the way. It sort of ‘chaptered’ itself on first read back.
Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did Compelling Speech: The Stammering Enigma need?
Well I got some feedback from certain publishing bods who said it wasn’t for them, that it should be twice as long, that it was just a series of anectotes, that they didn’t think there was a market…etc. There’s not a ‘not for us, thanks’ thst I haven’t heard from the publishing industry. I’m an editor myself, so as I say, I trimmed, and everything else is down to me. I intend to support it with podcasts, interviews, festival talks, that sort of thing.
What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a book?
Write with your own voice, not the voice of others you want to sound like, or you might think ‘the market’ wants. Readers will always appreciate honesty and integrity of voice. It’s why ‘cancel culture’ goes down so badly with well-read people. They’re bright enough to see through one-dimensional moralising, and vigorously resist any attempts to impose it on their intellectual or aesthetic tastes. Morality has no place in art.
Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?
I have a lot of the work done for a ‘conventional’ narrative novel – it’s huge at the moment – and my collection of poetry, also from the Dartmoor era, is doing a morbidly grotesque dance with the publishers. I plan to read some of that at the Empowering The Innocent conference at the University of Bristol in April, where I’ll be speaking (I’m also editor of False Allegations Watch, a division of ETI).
And, finally, are your proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?
Yes it’s the most autobiographical thing I’ve ever published, first person, full of things I know about. Publishing such a work is cathartic, and makes a lot of criticism redundant as it’s subjective experience juxtaposed with learned experience. I’ve never had a creative experience that wasn’t worth it in one way or another.
Pop all your book, website and social media links here so the readers can find you:
False Allegations Watch: https://empowerinnocent.wixsite.com/website
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