A Year on the Ponce

It’s almost a year now since the spectacularly unpopular (yet multi-award winning) Pitching the World came into being. Over the year we’ve seen several nervous breakdowns, borderline alcoholism, chronic alcoholism, divorce, a football trial for Colchester United, me eating some beetroot, a pie chart and precious little else. Maybe a handful of pitches, but that’s about all. But Pitching the World isn’t – and never really has been – about pitching. Nor is it really about the world. Rather – despite me stressing on numerous occasions that the whole idea behind PTW was to pitch all the magazines listed in the frankly terrifying Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook – it’s always been about the life of a freelance journalist. 

And if Pitching the World is about trying to give an honest and accurate account of the life of a freelance journalist, then I suppose it’s been a success. And it’s nice to have been a success in one aspect of my life because every other area of my life – financial, matrimonial, professional and plenty more – has been a colossal fuck up. But I’m beginning to think that colossal fuck ups could become a thing of the past.

Since the breakdown of my often-wonderful marriage and my divorce from the always-wonderful booze, good things have started to happen. I’ve been asked to write a book for someone in Dubai. I’ve been asked to go on a covert mission with a team of detectives and write about it. I spend a lot of time reading philosophy. I also write really dull posts – much like this one – and completely neglect the idea of pitching or putting up pitches. But if Pitching the World is going to survive for the next year – and survive it will – perhaps this is the way of the future. Little talk of pitching, much talk about the life of a writer whose life has fallen to bits. Not that much of a deviation, then, from the previous year.

Thank you.


35 responses to “A Year on the Ponce

  1. If you’ve kicked the booze entirely that’s fairly impressive. If that Dubai book is a bio of a self-infatuated high-flyer consultant do contemplate the ethical and reputational consequences of taking his money in exchange for the wordsmithery.

    Try some Zhuangzi sometime, and if you’re into meditative thought melded into excellent fiction…get hold of a copy of Philip K. Dick’s “The Man in the High Castle”.

    Most ‘online diaries’ degenerate to Adrian Mole type angst, so I wouldn’t get too hung up over Pitching The World being an autobiographical commentary melded with salient screeds on freelance journalism as a practice.

    Pete, editor at Dirty Garnet.

  2. Don’t try Zhuangzi or any Philip K. Dick (Hah! Dick! Can that be a real name?), they’re both shithouse. What you really want to try is going down the dole office on the piss with Alan. I know you know this is good advice, because all the advice I have ever posted on this winner-blog (WOG) has been solid gold.

    I’ve said this from the beginning: Everyone is far more interested in your ridiculous life than your ridiculous pitches (which is good, it means your life is the nuts, even if your pitches are gash). If you started being serious about this and posting pitches all the time, both of your regular readers would fuck off. Where would that leave you? Writing multi-award winning political speeches for West Indian despots. We need fuck ups, and going undercover detective in Dubai is the perfect route so some of the most spectacular fuck ups any of us will ever see.

  3. Peter Demain wrote: “If that Dubai book is a bio of a self-infatuated high-flyer consultant do contemplate the ethical and reputational consequences of taking his money in exchange for the wordsmithery.”

    Yeah, contemplate them for about a millisecond and then take the money and do it. That’s what freelance journalism is, dummy.

    Oh, and while I’m at it – is Alan that kid with the earring in The Inbetweeners?

  4. Yeah, contemplate them for about a millisecond and then take the money and do it. That’s what freelance journalism is, dummy.

    To your opinionated self you mean. I prefer bringing unvirtuous slimeballs to bear – this includes those guilty of stoogery and much much more! Sorry if this doesn’t square with your narrow take on journalism: I’d not want ‘biographer for one Pat H. Ethic, financial consultant, Dubai UAE’ on a list of past ‘accomplishments’ is all.

    Different strokes for different folks.

    I hear The News of the World are hiring. Wait! You’re probably still busy running your abysmal pizza shop.

    Pete, editor at Dirty Garnet.

  5. Oh Peter! So young, so idealistic! You even have a list of past accomplishments – how sweet!

    Seriously, I do find it truly endearing that you should imply that being a “proper” freelance journalist means vetting any prospective commissions for the moral and ethical propriety of the organisation doing the commissioning. It’s touchingly naive of you.

    Because “proper” freelance journalists don’t write for the News of the World, do they? Or The Sun, the Times, the Sunday Times. Or the Wall Street Journal. They don’t write for the Mirror, the Sunday Mirror, the Daily Mail, the Mail on Sunday, the London Evening Standard, the Daily Express, the Sunday Express, the Telegraph, the Sunday Telegraph.

    Oooh no. Proper freelance journalists wouldn’t sully themselves by taking the shilling of the unvirtuous slimeballs who own these newspapers, would they?

    Would they? Hang on just one cotton-picking minute! They would! They do!

  6. A generalizing screed from er…a person on the Internet. You’re charming aren’t you?

    A concise definition of ‘proper’ as well as hinting who you are – or indeed some (any) ‘accomplishments’ you’ve got under your belt might add credibility to your argument. So go on; what’ve you done other than make pizzas?

    I’m a mere ‘young idealist’ and a ‘dummy’ so there must be a lot to learn about the real journalistic world from you. You’re clearly happy to qualify your insights with salient verbiage…you are a hack then?

    Pete, editor at Dirty Garnet

  7. A hack yes. (A pizza-maker, sadly, no. I investigated the moral and ethical backgrounds of all the major pizza chains and found that I could not in all conscience grate cheese and slice mushrooms for them.)

    But you’re right. I’ve hacked for all the big bad boys. Except the Sunday Telegraph – bastards. And the Wall Street Journal. In fact, technically I’m hacking for them right now. Or should be. And my point, dear Peter, is precisely that. A freelance journalist is a freelance journalist: he is asked to write something for someone, he writes something for someone. And if you turn down doing just that for some Dubai-based moneymaker on ethical grounds, how can you square writing for The Big Rupert? Or, indeed, any of the others listed above?

    The answer, sweet Petey, is you can’t. And so you don’t. You just get on with the job of being a freelance journalist.

  8. So you’ve written for publications on sale to the public but won’t reveal your identity on a website that exposes such insightful pontificating? No irony there then!

    You make an assertion that I’d like to work for any of those newspapers you’ve quoted. Aren’t they rather unpopular? Might it be because many have a vigil at the PA wire and much content is identical save slight rewording – no wonder circulations are plummeting! Maybe it’s because the staff don’t go outside to do old fashioned gathering? Perhaps it’s just passionless drudge ‘churnalism’ in those offices…

    ‘Big’ Rupert is 80 next year. The Times paywall, MySpace, or the North Korean Flash games aren’t seeing much success; all his British rags are seeing uniform decline and across print media ad-laden beefy supplements bring the quantity over quality model into doubt. Ever considered that, perhaps like Murdoch, you’re a dinosaur when it comes to journalism?

    In answer to your question of ‘how?’ – yes, I don’t. Consider this: When people read this they see one guy under a pseudonym extolling the virtues of taking paycheques off rich, powerful conglomerates to write something he hasn’t mentioned yet…

    Then they see another guy writing under a pseudonym, albeit one tied to his journalistic work. Unless the ‘big bad boys’ are taking ad columns from Dominos pizza which at this late date (wouldn’t be surprising), you can’t say the same, so you can’t help but lack something important; Credibility: As yet, how can anyone know you aren’t spouting falsehood?

    I’d sooner take a fraction of what you’re paid and retain ethics. Whether that’s ‘proper’ journalism – a definition you’ve yet to make – is a matter of perspective. However the Internet does have a long memory, so once your meal tickets in the print press really are feeling the pinch…perhaps your sentiments on very topic might dissuade some Dubai high-flyer from hiring you?

    If you enter this enterprise for money over principle you probably aren’t cut out for anything beyond some scribblings for Desmond or Murdoch. If a name is pinned to your online alias someday, perhaps by an investigative journalist, consider how your words might jeapordize any authority you have with the wider public or peers.

    Pete, editor at Dirty Garnet.

  9. Peter Demain wrote “You make an assertion that I’d like to work for any of those newspapers you’ve quoted. Aren’t they rather unpopular?”

    The Sun is the best-selling English language newspaper on the planet, Peter. Do keep up, there’s a good chap.

    And of course I entered this “enterprise” (what a quaint way you have with language!) with the intention of making money. Gotta scoop for you Pete: it’s a job! It’s what I do for a living!

    (And it really won’t take much investigative reporting to work out my “online alias” (there you go again!) – it’s almost as badly disguised as dear Pitchy’s here. Only I fear said investigative journalist would be sorely disappointed. I really am just another lowly hack. Albeit one who lives in the real world, and not some fantasyland of self-important, abyss-howling bloggery.)

  10. Dominho looks a tad angry. I think I would be too if I was that dense. Nice to see someone who forsakes a profession for profit, however I thought that’s what business and law degrees were for.

    Oh and Dom, you infer that you think this Pete guy is self-important, I mean seriously do you read what you type or do you just phase in and out of consciousness? You couldn’t be further up your own colon yet sit on a pedestal over a MORAL dispute.

    Also, have you read The Sun? It is absolute filth and the laughing stock of even the sparsely learned people. The popularity of it’s distorted articles are held by the mindless. Ask anyone with any credibility what they think of The Sun. Jesus, new media technology really does give rise to pseudo-intellectual cretins.

  11. Oh Zachary, is that a trick of the light or are you really Petey pretending? How clever of you! (‘Twas your misuse of the possessive s that gave you away.)

  12. The Sun is the best-selling English language newspaper on the planet”

    I never stated otherwise; the point was that print media is declining – this includes The Sun. Does that newspaper fit into your still unspoken definition of ‘proper’ journalism?

    Here’s another question for you that you may or may not deign to answer: Would you take money to print a story that you know is probably untrue or distorted?

    I really am just another lowly hack.

    You’ve suddenly become modest. Consistency is another trait that tends to be valued by those reading news.

    Albeit one who lives in the real world, and not some fantasyland of self-important, abyss-howling bloggery.

    Do you read the Press Gazette? That’s a publication keen on keeping track of newspaper circulations. Upshot is that circulations are falling fast – unsustainably so. Don’t you find it sensationalist to call facts like these ‘abyss-howling’? The combination of the Internet, credit crunch and subpar or cannibilized content doesn’t give consumers enough incentive to stick with ink-and-paper press anymore. The general pattern in the workforce of British journalism is less money for more work by fewer people.

    How about numbers of paid freelancers in Britain? They were among those worst hit by the buyouts decades ago, and were replaced by about 50 Press Association personnel. Thousands of freelance journalists laid off then replaced by scores of people who man the popular British wire. Don’t you think if the ‘big bad boys’ hadn’t as much klout that things might be better for freelancers at present? Or indeed the trade at large?

    Let’s leave it to readers to judge on whose ‘self-important’ – I don’t think a man who all too happily trots out a list of newspapers he’s worked is particularly humble. You may have worked for papers all too happy to tell people what to think so why not let people make up their own minds for a change?

    Do keep up, there’s a good chap.

    I must be a very wet-eared, arrogant, unenlightened twenty-two year old because I think it’s you who should be keeping up. Perhaps once you answer my questions I’ll be proven wrong…?

    Pete, editor at Dirty Garnet.

  13. If you look at how Pete plays on words it differs quite a lot to mine. Also, can’t you tell from IPs or something of the poster? Or is it the fact that you refuse to believe you are stuck up, hypocritical and rather ill-informed? Please, keep up with the ad hominem. It satiates my hunger for idiocy.

  14. Dominho said: Oh Zachary, is that a trick of the light or are you really Petey pretending? How clever of you!

    There’s another thing I believe journalists need to have before they say or imply something: Evidence. You mightn’t have any to offer to back up this comment. This, to my mind, undermines any supposed merit you have as a freelancer or as a writer of much of anything in newspapers beyond opinion columns.

    Pitchy, you mod the comments here – would you like to clarify whether or not Zach is posting from my IP address or from a proxy?

    Pete, editor at Dirty Garnet.

  15. Oh Petey, I didn’t mean all blogging was self-important abyss howling – I meant your blogging.

    And as for berating me for “trotting out” a list of the newspapers I’ve written for – dude, you asked me to! I quote from your earlier comment: “A concise definition of ‘proper’ as well as hinting who you are – or indeed some (any) ‘accomplishments’ you’ve got under your belt might add credibility to your argument. So go on; what’ve you done other than make pizzas?”

    It’s a bit of a muddled sentence, but I think the gist is just about clear. Goodness me young man, you can’t have it both ways.

  16. Since when is working for any of those papers an accomplishment? Have you actually read those papers? The quality of writing and the actual articles are often of disgusting quality, based on pathetic cheesy wordplay (which is soon to be outlawed, thank God) and horrific sourcing practices such as saying “a friend of the family” followed by a complete fabrication are abundant. Then again, it says a great deal for your credibility and intentions as a journalist, as well as serving as a testament to the death of old media.

  17. I meant what you’d written rather than who for. Thought that was a clear implication but I should have spelt it out precisely – my bad. It just seems close to meaningless name-dropping publications you’ve worked for but not say what you write:

    Journalism covers many subjects, so to simply say you wrote for ‘The Sun’ or ‘The Times’ isn’t going to resonate in the way you want it to. Judging by this debate, the opposite seems to have occurred. Easy way is to state your name, but I’m not holding my breath for this simple courtesy.

    There’s also the ongoing matter of you having not said why your attitude towards or work as a freelance journalist is ‘proper’. Or addressed the laundry list of criticisms levied against you so far.

    “I didn’t mean all blogging was self-important abyss howling – I meant your blogging.”

    You’ve read my site? I can’t stomach a few of the papers you’ve written for over the duration of a quick coffee break; you’ve endurance streets ahead of mine if you stuck at it longer than that. You even dug out the unpublished draft which describes Pope Benedict howling that the apocalyptic abyss is soon to be upon us! You’d think his papal excellency had worked at a tabloid!

    Could you elaborate? Opinions are welcome, but if you spent a bit of time perusing my website you can surely spend a few minutes tapping out the reasons behind your views?

    Pete, editor at Dirty Garnet.

  18. Pingback: Tweets that mention A Year on the Ponce | Pitching the World -- Topsy.com

  19. A feud! A proper (almost) literary feud! I’ve been trying to set one of these up for ages and yet you sick fucks have gone and undermined me. Get me involved ASAP, I need recognition as a proper writer. Dominho, Peter and Zachary, you are all a bunch of massive plums. How do you like THEM apples?*

    *(All jokes courtesy of Gideon Defoe)

  20. My goodness this is fun – pray do tell Pitchy, what of the IP addresses?

    Alan, shut your cake hole.

  21. Pingback: » Discrediting An Uppity Murdoch Lover Dirty Garnet: Dug up, uncut news inlaid by unbribed freelancers

  22. Mr. Rowland,
    I read your article in the October “Writer’s Digest” about pitching every magazine listed in a market guide. Exactly how did you do it? I am imagining that you must have checked the next listing up, seen it was “Doberman Digest” and pulling an idea out of your little grey cells, you wrote the magazine wondering if they would like a piece on teaching a doberman to count. Is that the way you worked it? The assumption being that if they said yes, you would then, and only then, research and write the article? Thanks if you have the time to respond.

  23. Pitching every magazine.

  24. Pitchy

    As someone who gets nervous checking his bank balance, a bit of sun in Dubai for some moolah sounds alright to me. The thought of you hanging out with detectives and writing about it on here (hopefully) sounds even better. I look forward to it. I’ll play that Elvis Costello track as a preamble.

    Good lad for giving up the booze. As someone who has battled and lived with an alcoholic for many years, you’re bound to be a bit nicer to be around now and I hope you stick to it – thats the hard bit. I find most blogs a bit boring, but yours is honest, brave and quite often funny. So keep writing – you’re good at it.

    Its nice that Peter Tomorrow and Dominho (isn’t he the bad guy in some shit horror film?) hijacked your comments sight to have their little shit fight. How would they feel if we plastered our boring bollocks all over their site eh?



    • When was the last time a person saw your allegedly ‘boring’ bollocks, Lee?

      If you sway towards the exhibitionist I’d be partial for a look. Go right ahead – drop the covers and let it all hang out for me to evaluate in objectivity, kindness and perhaps a gratifying fashion. Tis’ always nice to have a second opinion on these anatomical wordly things – you’re a very modest man swaying your mission bell to self-deprecation and whatnot. You might appreciate an open minded, sincere, honest male tugging off the pretences and see your full splurge as it were.

      You can evaluate my disproportionate unroundnessedified sack of discontent, plus the shaft of my argument: However this is hardly a mighty pork sword – more a blunt stiletto nearly worn down to the hilt. Many people offer to remedy this through e-mail but…I’m too shy, shy. Hush hush…

      So how about it? Want to go eye to eye?


      Pete, editor at Dirty Garnet.

      • Pete

        Not sure if you know how this internet thing works. If you click on my name above, you can see some of my boring bollocks. We can keep our boring bollocks off here if you mail me direct from the link. Look up verbosity in the dictionary before you do and see if you can be a bit thrifty with your word count. Look forward to it, cheers.

  25. Thanks for your kind words Lee – recognised your name and realised we’re both appearing in one of Martin Deeson’s magazines this month. To protect my thinly disguised anonymity I won’t say much more, but Joan Sween (above) calling me ‘Mr Rowland’ might give you an idea.
    Briefly Joan, I haven’t quite pitched all the magazines – in fact, I haven’t quite pitched a tiny fraction of the magazines – but yes, the approach you suggest is pretty much on the money.
    The rest of you: well, I don’t know what to say really. Keep it up? Stop it? I don’t give a shit what you do? One of those, I reckon.

  26. Dominho,
    Having, myself, gotten dragged into exchanges such as this with Mr. Demon, I can attest to the fact that he is an ill-mannered, overbearing bastard. He is, however, a principled, ill-mannered, overbearing bastard. And one thing I’ve learned in live is that principles can cover a multitude of sins.

    In this particular case, I have to say that the Demon clearly has a point. You repeatedly identify yourself as a freelance journalist, but I think it’s essential to note that “writer” and “journalist” are not truly synonymous. The term “journalist” connotes one with at least a passing commitment to ferreting our and reporting the truth, regardless of where that path leads. And I think we can all agree that truth is rarely dispensed from a checkbook.

    I know nothing of your work, so ordinarily I wouldn’t assume that you’re the kind of writer who can be bought off. However, your whole more-cynical-than-thou eagerness to dismiss the entire concept of journalistic ethics doesn’t do much for your credibility.

    Of course everyone has the right to earn a living, whether through exposing corruption, reporting on zoning board rulings or transcribing the thoughts of the well-heeled and well connected in Dubai. But if it’s this latter path you choose, perhaps you might better identify yourself as a freelance writer or maybe even a ghostwriter, rather than as a journalist.

    The profession of journalism has been kicked around pretty heavily in recent years (and not without due cause). But fistful of dollars “reportage” of self-described hacks as yourself won’t do much to redeem the profession any time soon.

  27. I’ll probably need one of your detective mates to work it out as I’m a bit slow on the uptake but good to hear Martin’s given you a commission. Never met him but he’s been good to me so a top bloke in my book.

  28. You’re apparantly confined to dimunitive word limits by force of habit. It’s not too late to remedy your self-truncating, curt writing! Perhaps it’s a self-effacing, inferiority thing where you believe most will lose interest after a certain point? We can fix that, babe.

    Isn’t it clear it the bollocks was an ‘I’ll show you mine if you show me yours arrangement’. “Thrifty”? The amount of exhaustive brown-nosing I’ll go through to access the aforementioned is boundless…wasn’t that obvious too?


    Pete, editor at Dirty Garnet.

  29. Petey – something’s been troubling me: a similar question, in fact, as you earlier posed me. Where have you actually been published?

    Have you, in fact, been published in any national newspapers or magazines?

  30. This could run and run.
    For the record, the book I’m going to Dubai to write isn’t for some loaded business schmuck. Rather it’s for two girls, one of whom is in chronic debt and unable to leave the country. No doubt the book I write will get her out of said debt. So there.

  31. I’m nearly seven years late to the party but would like to make three observations:

    1. I didn’t know that passive aggressive kisses were a thing until now
    2. This type of thing is an SNL ‘innately British’ sketch waiting to happen
    3. Roget is spinning/twisting/rotating/turning in his grave

  32. Sorry can I add an 4? Well you’re all dead or decaying so I’m just going to go right ahead…

    4. ‘You’re apparantly’ – geddit, ‘rant’ly? It’s a gift from the dumbass tombola

    Ok, I’m going to keep my opinions to myself for another seven years. Don’t get excited, it’s not a Tolkien promise. Expect the same mundanity in, well, seven years.

  33. I’ve just seen this after dying/decaying for a bit, but thanks

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