And I never use exclamation marks! Never! And it’s not really even a pitch, more an illustration of how far I’ve come. Regular readers of this grief-filled blog will recall the heady days at the beginning of the year when I sent off four magical lines to editors asking about freelance work. They read:
I’m a former political speechwriter, almost a former professional footballer (see clip below), and currently a freelance journalist. Frankly, I’ve become a little jaded over the last few months writing for the same handful of publications that I regularly write for and am looking to broaden my interests. One of these interests is writing for you. Are you accepting freelance contributions at the moment, or would I be wasting my time if I knuckled down and pitched?
At the time I felt pretty enthusiastic about the responses and was moved to write, on this grief-heavy blog on January 24th 2010, the following:
And perhaps the state of journalism isn’t as bleak as many people seem to think it is. If one four line email (a four line wonder, if you like) sent to ten magazines can provoke eight promising leads and a relationship, however slight, with eight different editors then the future might not be so bad.
I even ended up praising the state of the industry in an article published in the British Journalism Review. Well, I’m a little ashamed – yet not at all surprised – to tell you that the future is indeed ‘so bad.’ Despite my initial optimism, my four-line wonder has provided absolutely zero work. It did open a few doors to editors who were receptive to me pitching, but in typical pitchingtheworld style, the moment I saw that those doors were open, I did my level best close them. And not so much just close them: close them, then piss all over them. Then set fire to the pissy doors and walk away.
Still, it’s not all bad news in the life of PTW, it never is. Miraculously, I’ve rediscovered my love for journalism. This is partly because I’ve actually been doing things this week: going out to interview people, visiting restaurants, pretending to be undercover, trying to catch mice etc. and I’ve realised that there are a lot of aspects of the job that I like. I’ve developed a kind of bumbling, shambolic persona – think half Columbo, half Louis Theroux – that allows people to open up to me. The trick here is to make the person who you are interviewing feel as if they are cleverer than you. Actually, that’s not true: the real trick is to make the person who you are interviewing think that you want them to think that they are cleverer than you. I don’t know why this might be, if it’s even remotely true or even if it makes sense, but in my defence I’ve written nearly 500 words and have been working to a strict schedule of Pomodoros today and all this week and my mind’s turned to sludge.
Here’s a pitch I sent to Cat World earlier:
Dear Cat World,
What are your views on cat sharing? More specifically, what are your views on running a feature about a business claiming to be ‘the first cat sharing website’? The idea for Cat Even Stevens (good name) is simple: rather than pay expensive cattery bills when you are going on holiday or otherwise engaged, why not pair your cat with someone who could really reap the benefits. Someone with mice, say, or someone who’s just a bit lonely. Frankly, I think the idea is a winner and I haven’t come across anything quite like it. I haven’t written many cat related features before, but have written for The Guardian, The Independent, Square Mile, Business Destinations, Hedge Magazine, Overseas Living, FRONT and a whole host of others and can pretty much turn my hand to anything. Plenty of clippings available. I should point I am fond of cats. I should also point out that Cat Even Stevens was conceived and implemented by my wife. However, she is on the verge of divorcing me so don’t worry about the piece coming across as too gushing or partisan. Here’s the website address, should you care to take a look: http://catevenstevens.wordpress.com/
They haven’t replied so far. I’ll let you know when they do.