For a few months now my wife, who I suspect is beginning to hate me, has been looking at my career with increasing alarm. Frankly, I don’t blame her. I’m on her side. I’ve been looking at my career with increasing alarm too. In fact, my career terrifies me. If I’m not writing and sending off unsuccessful pitches, then I’m writing and filing unsuccessful (i.e. not good) copy to unsuccessful (i.e. not good) magazines. Then I sit back with increasing alarm and wait to get paid unsuccessfully (i.e. not enough, not on time, sometimes not at all).
Regular readers will know that this is nothing new. Nor are my battles with other things, including an ongoing battle with my hairline (not good), waistline (not good, getting worse) and attempts to stay sane (not good, going to get much worse). Still, I have a list. The list was dreamt up by me and my wife, round about the time when I suspected she was beginning to hate me. It reads:
By June 6th 2010:
- Get in restaurant reviews (130)
- Finish pitching for Pitching the World
- Write proposal/synopsis & covering letter for pubs/agents
- Other work?
Items 1 and 4 on the list are under control. Well, as under control as they can be. Restaurants are being reviewed (surprisingly successfully) and other work is rolling in. And although when I think about my deadline for the reviews and the deadlines for the other work that is rolling in I have to scarper up the road, by a can of super strength lager and hide in a bush in the park drinking it, I think I’m doing about as well as I can.
No, the problems don’t lie with items 1 and 4. The problems lie with items 2 and 3. I look at “Finish pitching for Pitching the World” and want to puke. My pitches stink. They haven’t got the colour or vim or zip or whatever it was that they used to have when I was okay at this (and for a while I was okay at this, rather than an almighty fuck up at this) and, more alarmingly perhaps, they don’t contain any information. I realise that I don’t have any knowledge of anything: so I’m sending off bland pitches that lack any information to obscure publications and the editors don’t really know what to do with them. Well, they do know what to do with them: ignore them. Ignore them, because they’re not really pitches even, I’m not really sure what they are, but I do know that I don’t like the little shits.
Yep, problems. Problems, because I can’t hope to write a book about Pitching the World if my pitches (which aren’t really pitches, just little shits) aren’t getting anywhere. The best I can hope for is a flash of inspiration or a leg-up. I’ve thought as far as joining the Masons for my leg-up. Seriously. This is my answer to everything right now: join the Masons, I say to myself, and everything will be alright.
Here’s a pitch that worked, from a while back (for the Independent, before I was an almighty fuck up at this):
I read with considerable interest your article on anaphylaxis and allergies in general, published last July in The Independent. Earlier this year I was admitted to emergency departments on two separate occasions with anaphylactic shock. The first time the complaint was relatively mild: a rash covered the whole of my upper body and face and I had slight swelling of the lips and tongue. The second time was far more severe and I nearly had what was described as “a complete system collapse”. Thankfully adrenaline and steroids – and indeed doctors – are wonderful things, and after seven or eight hours of observation I was released. Rather less thankfully, my GP said that although my initial reaction was due to penicillin, I could be allergic to anything or, in fact, “nothing”. So there could be no obvious trigger. I could – and I know this is a very shaky hypothesis – be allergic to writing this email. Doubtful I know, but reason enough to be brief. Essentially then, I would like to write both about my experience of anaphylaxis and have a broader look at why we may becoming increasingly prone to such reactions.
Try and let me know if you are in any way interested.
With very kind regards,