2011: The Good, the Bad and the Bad and the Ugly and the Bad

I’m not really one for those bullshit ‘Here’s What I Did in 2011’ lists, but sometimes you need to assess things and assess them publicly. That last bit isn’t even remotely true. Neither is that first bit. Regardless, here is my take on my 2011. Yeah, it’s all about me.

THE GOOD. I didn’t die or go mad. Pitching the World is more popular than ever. This post aside, I’m writing better than I’ve ever done. My agent hasn’t fired me. For a while last year I was being paid £3 a word. I was offered a weekly poker column. I’m hilariously broke and in debt and sometimes this can lead to bold, spectacular progress.

THE BAD AND THE BAD AND THE UGLY AND THE BAD. The Good was good, wasn’t it? The Good was far better than I expected. But The Bad, I fear The Bad is going to be bad. Let’s see. I was homeless for most of 2011. I didn’t have to sleep rough at any point, but I’ve slept all over the place and am officially of No Fixed Abode. The few things I own are scattered about all over the place. I can’t work out of this state of affairs builds my character or drains it. I suspect it does both, simultaneously. I think that last statement is perhaps the most meaningless I’ve ever written.

My enthusiasm for this project is lower than it’s ever been, except for about ten minutes every day where I enter into some sort of mania and think that not only is everything going to be all right, but that everything is all right. I think my lack of enthusiasm lies with unresponsive editors and also with the fact that I NEVER FUCKING PITCH ANYTHING. This is a big problem. A big, big problem. Why hasn’t anyone told me it’s a big, big problem? Oh I tell myself, but I’m a master now at outmaneuvering the truth and so as soon as I tell myself it’s a big, big problem that I’m not really pitching anything, I’ll just as quickly say, ‘No it’s not. It’s not a big, big problem at all.’ This is also a big, big problem.

Let’s do some maths, shall we? Okay, so in the 28 months I’ve been doing Pitching the World I’ve pitched 25 magazines. Properly pitched them that is, as opposed to sending out en masse one of my bullshit generic begging letters*. This is not good. If I continue at this current output, it will take around 670 months to pitch all of the magazines in the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook. 670 months: That’s almost ten years. And that was almost a joke.

So, what to do? This is where you come in. Please help by plonking an answer in the below. Thanks.

A poll, earlier.

*My Bullshit Generic Begging Letter sent out earlier in the year. The responses were overwhelmingly positive.

To: Loads

From: Pitching the World

Subject: Belief

Dear Editorial,

I am in the process of trying to write features for all 642 magazines listed in the 2010 edition of the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook. Among those 642 magazines is yours. This ridiculous process began back in 2009 (for a while I called it a ‘project’ but I’ve given up on that now) after I had quit my job as a political speechwriter.

Now, if you consider my decision to quit my job as a political speechwriter and return to journalism to be a terrible one – and you’d be right to – my idea of writing for 642 magazines is even worse.

You should see me now, almost two years down the line. When I began, I was living with my neuroscientist wife in Stoke Newington. Now I’m getting divorced and live in my Nan’s dining room in Boscombe. Before I had hair, lots of it, and it wasn’t grey. Now I have little hair, and it is grey – white, even. I had money and shoes and confidence. Now, well I suppose I don’t have to spell it out, but now I have none of those things. What do I have? I have night terrors, addictions and crumbling self-esteem. Oh, and belief. I still have a sliver or two of belief.

After describing myself in such thrilling detail it seems a little ridiculous to say that I’d like to write for you. But I would. I’m in a hole you see, and it’s a hole I’d like to get out of. Are you farming work out to freelancers at the moment? I’ve written hundreds of pieces over the years for the Guardian, the Independent, Square Mile, Square Meal, the British Journalism Review, Business Destinations and plenty more. I reckon I could write a nice feature for you. Or a mini-feature. Or an opinion piece. Anything really. A paragraph? Do you need any paragraphs writing?

What are my chances? Slim? None? Reasonable? Please leave me alone?

Splendid clippings available on request.

I look forward to hearing from you.

With best wishes,

Pitching the World


15 responses to “2011: The Good, the Bad and the Bad and the Ugly and the Bad

  1. I didnt realise the “Pitching the World” was an idea to write for all them publications.

    That’s a good idea.

  2. Johnny Fakename

    This was excellent procrastination for me. I’m currently writing some pisspoor piece for a national that I honestly couldn’t give a fuck about. But there’s a fun game for other procrastinators to play, have a read of the nationals this weekend and if you find some absolutely dire article that’s complete shit then you’ve found mine.

    Even worse is the bleak realisation I have no work and no ideas once I’m finished and every editor seems to have no money.

    Happy new 2012 and all that Pitchy.

    • Hi Johnny Fakename – if indeed that is your real name – your comment is one of the best I’ve ever read in this award-winning comments section. Thank you.
      That bleak realisation’s a bastard, isn’t it.

  3. Carry on at a faster rate for 50 per cent of the remaining magazines, and spam the other 50 per cent with the Bullshit Generic Begging Letter.

    Also: pitch something at me.

  4. The bullshit generic begging letter is the way to go, without question. Considering your expertise and proven track record with BSGBLs, you might actually be able to write some for other people (for real quids) in the current climate – and there’s a pleasing irony in that.
    Mya x

  5. I think you might, as ever, be right Mya. Check out my first reply from the BSGBL sent out only this morning. I love Ruby Ormerod, hate the economic forecast.

    Hi Steve
    Love your letter, and if we had work I would happily farm it out to you. At the moment, given the economic forecasts, we have put our books on hold and are focusing on our art greeting cards.
    Our cards are blank inside, so sadly I can’t even test your poetry skills…of which I have no doubt you have plenty.
    Sorry, and best of luck,
    Ruby Ormerod


  6. It’s got to be the bullshit begging, Steve. Without a frigging doubt. Reckon it’ll work a treat, if only to excite your inbox, give eds a ray of weak sunshine and shove your PtW readership through the roof. Go get ’em, m’boy!


  7. C-Pipe, I’m positively buoyed by your comment. Positively. Buoyed. I will indeed go get them. X

  8. I am eating fake doritos with a subtle cheese salsa.

  9. You didn’t sleep rough in 2011? What a fucking loser. Apart from that fact, we could be brothers. If you were dying of liver damage. Which let’s face it, you probably are. We’re not brothers, are we?

    Sleep rough this year, please.

  10. K-Pee – Damn right I’m a fucking loser. But you’re right: we could be brothers. (Not that you’re a fucking loser as well. Although you are.) Hope you’re writing well.

  11. Steve — pitches don’t come easy. They take time and energy and worst of all, research, and increasingly, the end result is that some bastard at the publication you’re pitching blatantly steals your bloody idea and either writes it in-house, or farms it out to some hack who’s not nearly as talented or desperately needy as yourself (um, myself). Then, when you see the damn thing on the newsstand six months later and protest in righteous indignation, says, nyah nyah na-nyah nyah, you can’t copyright an idea, asshole.

    So my advice is to sift out the time-wasters, the wankers, and the shameless thieves with your bullshit generic pitch letter (the substance of which I might just blatantly steal). If you get anything resembling a genuine response, THEN waste time and energy on a pitch which will probably be stolen anyway.

  12. Steal away. And you’re right on the money there, ridexc, with the sifting: many magazines haven’t the budget for freelancers anymore so it’s rather pointless spending an hour crafting a pitch that’s specifically tailored to the publication. In many instances. Apologies for the clunkiness of this comment – I’m hungry.

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