I have always been a writer. When I was in elementary school, I would write and illustrate little books, bind them together with yarn and sell them to my friends for a quarter at recess time. In high school, I ran the poetry club and was news editor for the school paper. As an adult, I have had numerous poems and articles published in anthologies and other small publications; I even published a weekly community newsletter out of my home for awhile. Like all writers, I yearned to have a good year or two in seclusion to write that great novel.
Through events unseen, I found myself locked in jail for two years. Yes, this is a traumatizing experience, but it was also a blessing. I was secluded in a room where I didn’t have to worry about rent, bills, a job to go to. In my cell I had a mat to sleep on, a desk and stool and a toilet and sink. Meals were served to me through a slot in the cell door and I had an endless supply of writing paper and a collection of little golf-sized pencils issued by the jail. In an odd way, this is a writers dream situation and I used it to its fullest potential.
At first I started drawing the things in my cell: my cup, my mini toothbrush, the toothpaste I used more for glue than for brushing my teeth. Then I started drawing the cell itself with its gray brick walls, cement floor and cold rusty metal. Soon I was inspired to write poetry.
I went on a whim and there was nothing to disturb me. I wrote and I wrote. I wrote stacks of poetry, piles of essays and kept a daily journal of the events going on in a place no one wants to be. I wrote children’s books, adult fiction and even a film script. I wrote for two years straight and was released from jail with two duffel bags heavy with manuscripts and calluses on my fingers where the pencils were held.
It didn’t take long for me to realize I had written enough to start a small publishing company. Coming out of jail, I went straight to typing. I figured that the first book I should publish should be my collection of poetry and sketches. It had the simplest content to create a book out of if I were to bind it by hand until I was able to afford a professional printer.
I went to city hall and registered my book publishing company, Ankle Bone Books, as an official legal business. Next, I obtained an ISBN number. I then printed the book up, folded each sheet of paper meticulously by hand; cut up the covers from sheets of Bristol board, scored them, folded them, then glued the pages in.
It didn’t take long after the glued dried that my first book ”Songs From The Slammer” started selling.