Daily Archives: April 12, 2011

A Cheap Shot From A Cheap Man

 Look at me. Or rather, look at the letter below. Pathetic. Look at what I’ve been reduced to: I’m practically begging. And doing said begging in a fairly rushed and half-hearted fashion. Damn you Boscombe library.

But, fuck it. You know, in another way: fuck it. Why shouldn’t writers get sponsored in the same way that people who ride around on bicycles do? There are clever answers to this, I know.

Anyway, it was worth a shot. Exchanging my last scrap of dignity in return for a little bit of money. Definitely worth a shot.

Dear Red Bull People,

I’ve noticed you sponsor a lot of people. How would you feel about sponsoring a writer? Not brilliantly, I imagine, but please hear me out.

In September 2009 I decided to pitch all 642 magazines listed in the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook. I’d quit my job as a political speechwriter, gone on holiday and was just kind of floating around Darwin, Australia, with my wife. I say “floating around” but in fact was doing no such thing. I was panicking. I understand that Red Bull probably don’t want to be associated with people who panic, but don’t worry, I don’t panic anymore.

But back then I did. Panic, that is. God I wish I was better at writing letters. I was panicking because my wife was a hotshot neuroscientist and I was a nothing. A former journalist and political speechwriter, but a current nothing.

From nowhere though, I had an idea – and it changed my life more than I possibly could have imagined. Why not, I thought to myself, why not try and become the most published journalist of all time? I mean, and this is me thinking still – but back then, why not get published in more and more diverse magazines than anyone else ever? That would be a challenge. I decided that when I came back to the UK I was going to buy the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook and pitch all the magazines listed in there. The panic subsided. I floated around Darwin for a week.

Well, Red Bull, when I got back to the UK and bought that book I was both thrilled and crushed to discover that I would have to pitch 642 magazines. And the bulk of them were seemingly impenetrable. Have you tried writing for Poultry World or Coin News or Model Boats? No, you probably haven’t. But I have. Or at least I will do. It’s taken me about a year and a half and I’ve probably pitched (at best) a quarter of the magazines listed. I thought I could have done the whole thing in about a month or two. I know, ridiculous.

There has been success. I’ve written for a lot of fine publications, I run a multi-award winning blog about the whole thing, I had a trial for Colchester United (at, I’ll have you know, 34) and I’ve got an agent. But it’s not all good news. Oh no, Red Bull, it never is. My marriage has collapsed, my hair’s fallen out, my body has atrophied. I’m also homeless. Cool, isn’t it?

Homeless I may be, but hopeless I’m not. I’m determined to pitch the remaining 500 or so magazines in the next few months and will write a book about it. This is where you come in. I’ve got a feeling that you’d be into this kind of crazy business and you’re going to give me cash and crates of Red Bull to finish this thing; to swan around Europe as I please and spit in the face of anyone who tries to insult me. Sorry, I’m quoting DH Lawrence and trying to show off now. I’m also rushing: I’m writing this in the library and my time is about to run out. Not in a grand my-time-on-this-earth way, more of a I-need-to-get-off-this-computer way.

We can continue this later. Do please let me know when you’ll be sending the cheque and crates of Red Bull. I can muster up a temporary address.

With best wishes,

Pitching the World

PS You may see this as a cheap shot from a cheap man. I don’t. I see it as balls, chutzpah and a little desperation. One of us is right. Hope it’s me.