On Friday I shaved off all my facial hair, head hair and body hair. Then, for the remainder of the weekend, I lay in a cold bath with just by head peeping out pretending to be a seal. I didn’t really. I nearly did though, I certainly wanted to. I’m really on the edge out here in East Horsley. Self-imposed isolation in Surrey isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
But I’ve been sick. Terribly sick. If life has taught me one thing, it’s that if you’re sick – terribly sick – you shouldn’t spend all weekend in a cold bath pretending to be a seal. Frustrating though, this sickness. Frustrating that I couldn’t pretend to be a seal, and more frustrating that I couldn’t get on with all the work I feel like I should be getting on with.
What work? Well, there’s a weekly column to get stuck in to, a couple of features to write, an idea for a column that needs to be refined and pitched, work on at least two books and a load of other stuff that I’m not too inclined to think about because if I do think about it, I really might end up in that bath yelping away. Still, I can cope. Since quitting this ridiculous business of trying to pitch 642 magazines, my head has felt considerably fresher. Cleaner. No longer do I have to think of feature ideas for Electrical Review or Ships Monthly or Slim at Home. No longer do I have to periodically take out that stinking book and glaze over as I try and work out who I have and haven’t contacted. No. Now I have the mental freedom to actually chase after and conduct the sort of work that I should be doing.
With that in mind, then, earlier today I wrote to 79 publications listed in the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook. I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, ‘This man is a riot. This half-man half-seal is such a wreck that he can’t even quit properly. He fails at quitting. Fuck this, I’m unsubscribing.’
Is that what you’re thinking? Don’t. It was a one-off. Well, a 79-off. It’s just that I’ve half-heartedly sunk two and a half years into this beast and I wanted to be sure, you wanted to be sure, we all wanted to be sure, that by quitting I was doing the right thing. And I figured that if I contacted another string of magazines with my usual bullshit (‘I’m broke and homeless and possibly a seal looking for freelance work’) and they responded with their usual bullshit (‘We like you, we like your work, we don’t have any money, leave us alone’) then I would feel nicely vindicated in my quitting.
And that’s what’s happened. Sort of. Most of the publications who have replied today say that they have little or no budget for freelancers and only one or two have said they would like to me to write for them. If I do write for them, it won’t be under the Pitching the World umbrella. It’ll be under something else.
Excuse me. I’m heady, aren’t I? It’s okay, you can be honest with me. I’m sick, still. But I do have one piece of good news before I drift off for the evening. A kindly benefactor has emerged from the shadows and offered to financially support me whilst I write a book about Pitching the World. Special, isn’t it? Brings tears to your eyes, doesn’t it? I’ve no idea why I’ve left this slice of news until now. Surely something as welcome and flattering should have been shoved up to the top of this post. All I can think is that for some reason I wanted to tell you about pretending to be a seal first. And I wanted to show that persistence pays off. You’ve got this far. Well done.
So there will be a book about Pitching the World. It will be about persistence not paying off (but also paying off), and borderline homelessness, and the state of journalism in the UK, and alcoholism and writing and some other stuff – loads of other stuff – that I haven’t even begun to mention over the last two and a half years. Will you buy it? I hope you’ll buy it. Even if you’re not going to buy it, I hope you’ll pretend to me that you are going to buy it. Thank you.
A seal (not me) in a bath, earlier.