RON’S TOP WRITING TIP
Don’t write for anyone but yourself. Write the stories, plays and poems you want to read. If you are honest in your appraisal of your own work and have, indeed, created something you would buy then other people will like it too.
Ron Barton works with words in his job as an English teacher but writes with wit and whimsy in his spare time. While he is proud of his writing and takes it seriously, his public persona is that of the class clown – to the extent his biographical details that accompanied his work in the inaugural edition of Tincture Journal sounded more like a dating profile… See for yourself:
Ron Barton is a hairy male with salt-and-pepper stubble (32). Likes long walks on the beach but prefers an afternoon of sitting on the couch watching football. Seeking readers aged 13-90 for intimate relationship with his neurotic, poetic self. Author of Ginninderra Press’ If God is a Poet, but modest despite this arrogant title. If you’d like to read between my lines, or just read the lines themselves, follow @Teacher2Poet.
In the 12 months since then he has had poems published by Deakin University and displayed at the Sydney Fringe Festival and the University of Western Australia. He has also reappeared in Tincture with a postmodern shot story. Currently in the works are a collection of short stories and another anthology of poetry.
For information about Ron check out his website: https://poetryzoo.com/author/teacher2poet
Why do you write? I don’t think I have a lot of control over it. At times, I just feel compelled to put pen to paper. Generally it’s a reaction to issues going on in my life or things I’ve found interesting that have sprung out of conversations. What I find strange is that I had always imagined being an author but I’d never considered poetry to be the form in which I’d write. As a teenager I wanted to be the next Stephen King, not the next Bruce Dawe – it’s funny how life pulls you in unexpected directions.
What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer? Career wise, I’m a teacher first and foremost. This was a deliberate choice so that I was constantly engaged in language and literacy with the expectation it would aid me in the writing process. In regards to spare time, if I wasn’t writing I’d probably throw myself into sports more or, heaven forbid, waste my life away on the couch.
What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? I’m actually one of the lucky ones. Getting published for me was a far simpler process than most seem to go through. I’d stumbled onto a website that said a complete manuscript would have 60 poems or more and determined that if I wanted to go down that route I wasn’t far away. After writing and polishing a few more poems I sent my works off to seven different publishers and was fortunate enough to have one of them offer to produce my book.
With regards to magazines and journals, I have been less successful. Although I’ve had a handful of poems (and one short story) published I’ve been disappointed by the rejection letters that have come from collections I’d love to be associated with.
What’s the best aspect of your writing life? The best aspect of my writing life would be the doors it is opening for me. Last year a politician asked if I would coordinate a writers’ festival in Secret Harbour and we’re now looking at making it an annual event. I have also been a guest speaker at a variety of schools and at the Perth Poetry Club as a result of my book being published.
—the worst? The worst part is that I get a lot of ideas at inopportune times, mostly when driving. I’m also finding that I don’t always get the time to write – teaching keeps me really busy.
What would you do differently if you were starting out now as a writer? My original publisher didn’t have the option of an eBook on top of the physical product. The electronic market is huge now so I feel like I’ve missed out a little. I think if I was starting out now I’d be looking for different publishing outlets.
What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become an author? Get out there! If someone had convinced me to get involved in writers’ groups and workshops I would have met some incredibly talented people a lot earlier in my career – people who now inspire me in a variety of ways.
What’s the best advice you were ever given? I haven’t actually received a lot of advice but one piece of feedback that has stuck is that my poetry “often has such innocence, something you are never afraid of expressing, something we should always hold onto”. I try to adhere to this where possible, to explore things from the naivety and untainted perspective often associated with children. It helps add that whimsical element to my writing.
In this diverse collection of poems, Ron Barton explores the various aspects of his world that make him who he is. Regardless of the seriousness of tone, which is often tongue-in-cheek, each poem contains some element of his life – whether it be a reaction to childhood and fatherhood, or a reflection of his love of teaching and football. If God is a Poet encourages readers to question their values regarding Australian identity and gender roles without aggressively promoting a specific agenda. Here we see the professional writer experimenting with form, imagery and theme while remaining highly accessible and readable.
The book is available from http://www.ginninderrapress.com.au/poetry.html