Monthly Archives: October 2009

Duck soup

For those who are interested (no-one, possibly Alan) I’m on the second day of the superman sleep cycle. Five hellish days to go. My previously erratic behaviour has become even more pronounced: I’m talking to myself, walking into walls, making cups of tea without putting tea or milk in – generally acting as if I’m taking part in some sinister Marx Brothers film. A hoot, it is not.

I’m doing the superman etc. because I’m getting paid by a national newspaper to do so, and also so that I can have more time to write magazine articles, update this fine blog, work on my Radio 4 play about two Arctic explorers and so on. Have I mentioned my Radio 4 play about two Arctic explorers before? I say a Radio 4 play, but they’re unaware that I’m writing it, and will probably remain unaware, as, like most things I do, it will be abandoned halfway through. This extra time that I’ve created for myself is not being spent on all my wonderfully inept projects as I imagined it would be, but rather it’s being spent staring at walls. I’ve grown to love staring at walls.

Tonight has been set aside for a pitching frenzy. The pitching has been a bit thin on the ground recently because I’ve spent all my time banging into things and talking to myself, but tonight should see me get back into it. It should do. I’ll let you know. 

 

 

Sell Yourself

How much of a fuck up am I? Let me count the ways. First, and as much as I don’t want to, I’m going to have to give back the computer that I stole to the people who I stole it from. This will not only leave me without a computer, it will also restrict my ability to earn enough money to buy a new computer because the money that I am earning at the moment (although no-one appears to be paying me) is being made using this stolen computer. Not good. 

Second, I’m about to spend a week starving myself of sleep. From tomorrow, I’ll be following the superman sleep cycle – 20 minutes sleep every four hours – to see if I can create more time in order to do the alarming amount of work that I have on at the moment (an alarming amount of work that, if I’m being honest, I spend an alarming amount of time trying to dodge). I’ve sold the idea to a newspaper who are prepared to pay me quite a lot of money to write about my experience. This is fuck up number three: for the last few days I’ve avoided opening the uncomfortably depressing Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook as I’ve been pitching a few newspapers ideas that are clearly not suitable for my fragile mind.

Oh well, at least I’ll have the money soon to buy a new computer. I won’t buy one of course, I’ll spend all the money on drugs and exotic meals, but for a moment or two I will be able to.

An update, of sorts

Regular visitors to this phenomenally successful blog will no doubt have noticed a pattern: I keep drinking and smoking and lurching between one ridiculous incident and another and yet I never seem to have any success, nor do I ever really give any information about pitching, despite promises to the contrary and a blog title that suggests I really should.

Well, not today. This week has been a good one and the hours spent pitching a few weeks ago are starting to pay off. Yesterday I had two pieces commissioned and there are another couple that look as if they will be confirmed by the end of the week. And they are nice and diverse: one on naturism, another on Brazil, another on irregular sleep patterns and another one – actually this is boring. You people come here for slapsticky behaviour and spectacular muff-ups and that’s what you’re going to get.

So, in amongst my (boring) success this week, I received what was possibly the most damning reply to a pitch that I’ve ever received. This in itself was unusual. Normally when editors don’t like my ideas – which is often – they either don’t reply or reply with a brisk “not for us”. That this particular editor had taken the time to reply to my pitch in some detail was quite something.

I had pitched “Pilot Magazine” with a frankly shoddy feature idea. I know little about aviation and have no particular interest in it, but for the purposes of this experiment I have to pitch such titles. My idea was to write about the Royal Flying Doctors Service and how I had become interested in it after visiting the RFDS museum in Alice Springs, Australia. This is not true. It is true that I visited the RFDS museum in the summer, but I didn’t “become interested” and my wife laughed at me because I asked one of the staff if it was actually the doctors who flew the planes themselves. I was disappointed to find out that they didn’t.

The editor of Pilot Magazine started out saying that “a piece about that museum is a long shot and as a pro, you’d probably want paying” then went on to say that as a lot of their readers wouldn’t be able to go over there, then it wasn’t worth publishing and “as the piece would need to be photo led” and I didn’t have any photos, then that was a further reason why they wouldn’t want it. He also mentioned that he had read a lot about the RFDS over the years, suggesting that I perhaps wasn’t the right person to cover it. “Bottom line,”  he ended “probably not worth pursuing”. 

Still, good to get a reply. Plenty of my pitches don’t warrant one. Before I sign off, take the following pitch for a men’s magazine that I used to (and still do) occasionally write for. Everything about the pitch is wrong: the idea is awful, the information I give isn’t really true, it’s poorly written, I give up half way through and – the worst bit – I still sent it:

His name,
I read something the other day about how many football supporters are shunning the Premiership and supporting foreign clubs. Apparently you can nip over to Germany or Spain to watch a top match and – with plane tickets included – it costs less than going to a game in the Prem. Perhaps send a reporter (well, me) over to a game…look, even as I write these words I can tell that this one is never going to happen.
I’ll get re-thinking.
My name

 


Less than zero

I’m in a tight spot. I thought I was in a tight spot before but I wasn’t really, it was a false tight spot. The “Pitching the World” (ridiculous) experiment is rapidly becoming undone.

First, the company that I used to work for has informed me (repeatedly) that they want the computer that I stole from them returned. I enjoyed stealing that computer and if I had my way it would remain stolen, but I fear I may have to give it back. Giving the stolen computer back would put a serious dent in my future (ridiculous) pitching. That said,  I’ve worked without a computer before. For the first year I spent working as a freelance journalist I would write in libraries, or borrow computers from friends, or work in the evenings in my wife’s office but although that sounds romantic on paper, it was far from ideal.

Second, I split my head open at the weekend falling up some stairs when drunk. There are some benefits to this. For example, when I’m out with my wife and bump into someone I know who asks “What happened to your head?” I can reply “I fell down…I mean up some, um, stairs” whilst glancing at my wife in a terrified fashion. Funny, I know. But there are downsides: I can’t think properly and may have concussion and this fuzzy thinking is made fuzzier by the thought that I may have to give back the stolen computer that is integral to my livelihood. Perhaps I should stop stealing things. And, I suppose, getting drunk. The thing is it’s only the theft and the drink that’s keeping me alive these days.

Pitches? No, some other time – tomorrow possibly. I know it’s always some other time but it’s murder out here at the moment and I just don’t want to drag all my regular readers down. I might be getting somewhere though. Might be.

Tales of the expected

The link below might explain why I’ve been a little quiet on here recently and why my pitching hasn’t been going as smoothly as I would have liked. 

Take a look:

http://www.twns.co.uk/

It’s not the full story, but this is the sort of stuff I’m having to deal with every day. I don’t really think it needs much explanation. As well as staring for hours at stuff like that I’m trying to think up suitable pitches for Star Trek magazine, Scottish Memories, The Sign (a C of E parish magazine that, brilliantly, costs 5p a month), Sea Angler, Sea Breezes, Sewing World and so on

The whole thing (the whole experiment that is, if you could call it that – which you can’t) is making me a feel a bit unbalanced – which I quite like – but it’s also making me feel that it’s a complete waste of time. Seriously, am I ever going to write for Your Dog or Woman Alive or The War Cry? And if not – and I won’t – then what’s the point? Is the point just to walk around like a plum telling anyone who is foolish enough to listen that I’m pitching 642 magazines? I mean, really, who cares?

I am then, on the verge of packing it all in and going back on the bins. I won’t pack it all in of course because I’m stubborn, and an idiot, and I get a kick out of the idea of writing a feature for Your Dog. I also think there’s something worthwhile to be said, I’m just not sure what yet. So I probably won’t quit,  but I’ll be on the verge of quitting the whole time, which is a great deal worse but should make the whole experiment (if you could call it that) much better.

I’m going to post more regularly from now on because I’ve been getting a lot of hate mail from people saying that this blog is the only thing that gets them up in the mornings and without a regular dose of it they’re nothing but husks. I appreciate that. But the reason I haven’t posted for a while is because I kept promising an update, and the reason I didn’t post an update is because there was nothing to update anyone about, and the reason for that is the link near the top of this post.

In Praise of Brinkmanship

The more beady eyed and sharper minded among you may have noticed something. Notably, that I was missing a trick. The fine yet desperate idea of pitching 642 magazines is a novel one, you were probably thinking, so how about pitching that as an idea. How about writing for some of the publications listed in the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook about your experiences of pitching and writing for the magazines listed in the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook? It would be just like one of those Charlie Kaufman films, you thought, except nowhere near as good.

So that’s what I did. I pitched the idea at 2 am this morning when I was drunk and mad in the kitchen and woke up this morning to a commission from a writing magazine to write a couple of articles about my experiences.

Just a slip of a post today as I have a lot on. I understand that a lot of regular readers – and there are lots of you, probably too many in fact – are desperate to hear about the 70 magazines I was going to pitch over the weekend. An update will be forthcoming.

It’s a wonderful life

Things have taken a monotonous though not entirely unsurprising turn. I say turn, but it’s nothing so dramatic – more of a steady decline. My life now is one of bananas, cigarettes, cans of lager bought with 20 pence coins and inactivity. That, more or less seriously, is all I do: eat bananas, smoke cigarettes, drink lager and sit at this desk that is barely even a desk and pitch or write or research and miss one deadline after another. It’s thrilling stuff.

Another 600 magazines to go. It’s good having something to work towards, something with a bit of a resolution. After said 600 magazines have been pitched I reckon I’ll either be: (a) rich (b) mad (c) divorced (d) sick of bananas or (e) a combination of (b), (c) and (d). Depending on where I’m at mentally, financially, and in my relationship after all the pitches are complete, I can then decide whether I want to carry on writing for a living, become a male prostitute, or get a normal job. Whatever the hell that is.

See? Something to work towards, something with a bit of resolution. In the meantime, I’ve given myself 70 magazines to pitch this weekend. I already have an uneasy yet entirely predictable feeling that I’m not going to do any work tomorrow so that leaves Sunday (and to be honest, probably only Sunday evening) to do 70 pitches. I’ll start posting them up next week, along with pitches that have worked in the past and some that haven’t. 

Thanks to everyone who keeps reading. I’m not as much of a fuck-up as I make out, but I almost am.