Some things have been troubling me lately*. First, that my 2010 edition of the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook is looking depressingly out of date. When I started this harebrained scheme back in September 2009, I was hoping to get the whole project wrapped up by that Christmas. Now, that Christmas has been and gone and this Christmas sits about four weeks away, gently mocking me. I have a feeling that by this Christmas I won’t have pitched the remainder of the 642 magazines I set out to pitch in September 2009.
How many remain? I’m not sure, but if I had to make an estimate I’d put it somewhere in the absolutely-fucking-loads region. When I thought I was pitching a lot earlier in the year, my records – yes, I do keep records – suggest that I wasn’t really at all. More recently I’ve had a feeling that I haven’t pitched a thing for weeks and, frustratingly, this time my records back me up. So there’s lots to do – that’s one thing that’s troubling me. Perhaps I should stop keeping records. Or perhaps I should wrestle control of this project and start pitching ideas with a little more discipline. At the moment, I’m leaning towards not keeping records.
The other thing that’s troubling me is my diet. A few days ago I bought six kilograms of oranges. When I bought them I thought that buying six kilograms of oranges was a good thing to do and that if, over the following week, I was ever stuck for something to eat I could eat an orange. I congratulated myself on such fine, robust thinking. Now I realise that although at the time my thinking may have seemed fine and robust, there was nothing fine and robust about it at all. I’ve grown to hate oranges. There’s nothing to eat in my room in my big tower but oranges. I’ve eaten seven today. I can’t face another one. What bothers me most about my heap of oranges in the fridge is their lack of versatility. There’s not a lot you can do with an orange: you can pretty much peel it and eat it or cut it up and eat it. It’s quite difficult to jazz up an orange – and, believe me, I’ve tried – and do something different with it. Unlike, say, a chicken. If I had six kilograms of chickens in my fridge I’d be having a ball right now.
Which brings us rather belatedly and extremely clumsily onto Square Meal. Earlier this year I was the north London section editor for their 2011 Restaurant & Bar Guide and had to review 130 places. The (I imagine heavily-edited) reviews will be available both in print and online next month. Anyway, I was looking through some records – I do keep records – earlier today and came across my original approach which got me the gig. It read:
Love the magazine. Now, I understand I’m probably not the first or last person to express this, but I’d like to write for you. Really like to. Over the past few years I’ve written features for The Independent, The Guardian, Square Mile and a bunch of men’s magazines on all sorts of stuff, from illegal organ trading (I tried to sell bits of my body to strangers, it didn’t really work out) to anaphylactic shock. I don’t have a CV, but this piece for The Guardian about marrying someone within four weeks of meeting her, should tell you more than a CV ever could.
The bulk of my writing over the last couple of years has been about property and I’ve reviewed hundreds of agencies across the country for SoldOut magazine. I’ve attached a couple. My thinking is this: if you can make an estate agency review gripping and lively (debatable, but please read), then you can make a restaurant review, um, more gripping and more lively.
Best wishes Editorial,
Pitching the World
I dislike pretty much everything about that letter. I don’t like that I haven’t bothered to find out the name of the editor and address it accordingly. I don’t like the childish and desperate way I’ve written it. I don’t like my safe and half hearted attempts at humour. I don’t like that I’ve used a comma really badly in it. But what I do like is that it led to several thousand pounds worth of work and a fairly illustrious freelance job. And what I like even more is that if such a shit letter can lead to such work, then imagine – just imagine – what I can do when I come back from Dubai on Friday and start trying to get this ill-fated horror show of a project back on the right lines.
*Please note that the two things mentioned as THE things that are troubling me aren’t really troubling me at all and I’ve only included them to (a) remind readers that Pitching the World is, sometimes, about pitching and (b) serve as an excuse to actually include a pitch (even though it isn’t really a pitch). That said, there are some things that really are troubling me including (1) becoming more or less homeless (for the second time in three months) in less than a week (2) not having the money to get public transport out of Heathrow airport when I arrive there in less than a week (3) writing shopping lists that, if I didn’t know any better, could quite easily have been written by a serial killer. Today’s effort? ‘Tissues, fags, milk, TAPE!!!’ and (4) that one of my new readers was led to Pitching the World after he (at least I assume he’s a he) searched for ‘fuck my nan’. This troubles me and has unfortunately led me to spending an unhealthy amount of time speculating whether or not he was fantasising about a romantic encounter with his nan, was planning a romantic encounter with his nan or had gone as far as conducting a romantic encounter with his nan. Any scenario makes me feel queasy and – call me an old square – I feel the world would be a better place if there weren’t too many people out there who wanted to do that to their nans. Let’s hope there aren’t.