Witness the Sickness

On Friday I shaved off all my facial hair, head hair and body hair. Then, for the remainder of the weekend, I lay in a cold bath with just by head peeping out  pretending to be a seal. I didn’t really. I nearly did though, I certainly wanted to. I’m really on the edge out here in East Horsley. Self-imposed isolation in Surrey isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

But I’ve been sick. Terribly sick. If life has taught me one thing, it’s that if you’re sick – terribly sick – you shouldn’t spend all weekend in a cold bath pretending to be a seal. Frustrating though, this sickness. Frustrating that I couldn’t pretend to be a seal, and more frustrating that I couldn’t get on with all the work I feel like I should be getting on with.

What work? Well, there’s a weekly column to get stuck in to, a couple of features to write, an idea for a column that needs to be refined and pitched, work on at least two books and a load of other stuff that I’m not too inclined to think about because if I do think about it, I really might end up in that bath yelping away. Still, I can cope. Since quitting this ridiculous business of trying to pitch 642 magazines, my head has felt considerably fresher. Cleaner. No longer do I have to think of feature ideas for Electrical Review or Ships Monthly or Slim at Home. No longer do I have to periodically take out that stinking book and glaze over as I try and work out who I have and haven’t contacted. No. Now I have the mental freedom to actually chase after and conduct the sort of work that I should be doing.

With that in mind, then, earlier today I wrote to 79 publications listed in the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook. I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, ‘This man is a riot. This half-man half-seal is such a wreck that he can’t even quit properly. He fails at quitting. Fuck this, I’m unsubscribing.’

Is that what you’re thinking? Don’t. It was a one-off. Well, a 79-off. It’s just that I’ve half-heartedly sunk two and a half years into this beast and I wanted to be sure, you wanted to be sure, we all wanted to be sure, that by quitting I was doing the right thing. And I figured that if I contacted another string of magazines with my usual bullshit (‘I’m broke and homeless and possibly a seal looking for freelance work’) and they responded with their usual bullshit (‘We like you, we like your work, we don’t have any money, leave us alone’) then I would feel nicely vindicated in my quitting.

And that’s what’s happened. Sort of. Most of the publications who have replied today say that they have little or no budget for freelancers and only one or two have said they would like to me to write for them. If I do write for them, it won’t be under the Pitching the World umbrella. It’ll be under something else.

Excuse me. I’m heady, aren’t I? It’s okay, you can be honest with me. I’m sick, still. But I do have one piece of good news before I drift off for the evening. A kindly benefactor has emerged from the shadows and offered to financially support me whilst I write a book about Pitching the World. Special, isn’t it? Brings tears to your eyes, doesn’t it? I’ve no idea why I’ve left this slice of news until now. Surely something as welcome and flattering should have been shoved up to the top of this post. All I can think is that for some reason I wanted to tell you about pretending to be a seal first. And I wanted to show that persistence pays off. You’ve got this far. Well done.

So there will be a book about Pitching the World. It will be about persistence not paying off (but also paying off), and borderline homelessness, and the state of journalism in the UK, and alcoholism and writing and some other stuff – loads of other stuff – that I haven’t even begun to mention over the last two and a half years. Will you buy it? I hope you’ll buy it. Even if you’re not going to buy it, I hope you’ll pretend to me that you are going to buy it. Thank you.

A seal (not me) in a bath, earlier. 


28 responses to “Witness the Sickness

  1. Yeah pitchy!! Now the shit has been wiped off the fan, where can we sign-up for pre-orders?

    (notice the skilled use of condescending bullshit commas, again)

    • Thanks GS. And I did notice. I think. Not sure about pre-orders yet but I very much admire your faith and enthusiasm. Just going to try and get the thing written first then see if I’m doing it through my (award-winning) agent or another way. Watch this space. This one, right here.

  2. Well done pitchfork. That’s forking good news.

  3. News? You’re the benefactor.

  4. Well done! A book deal, of sorts, so pleased for you, I will buy one….Sorry for silence, long story, short comment space on phone xxx

  5. Good times are on the way Pitchy! I’ll buy your book. I’ll read it too x

  6. Buy two, lcarnwell. Two is better than one. And read it twice: Twice is better than once. I’ve really gone to pot in this comments section, haven’t I? Oh well. Thank you.

  7. Ok Mr super duper pitchy man put me down for two, but only cos its the 22.2.12, and I just sent a story of 3022 words to the BBC Short Story Prize, so it all seems to connect, lol.
    I love sending stuff off to the BBC for that maybe feeling!
    So far my attempts have failed but practise makes perfect, as they say, or as you have so wonderfully proved, persistence does in fact get you somewhere, even if its not quite where you intended, at least you are somewhere else!
    Keep going for that final push! You can do it!
    I’m still reading, even if I was mute for a while.

    • You’re not the only one still reading, Julie Noble. There are at least ones of others. I can do it, can’t I? Thanks. And thanks for the two copy contract that you appear to have publicly signed.

  8. I will buy severalty. Do you think my Mum would enjoy it? She’s quite open-minded, she surprised me the other day by knowing what fisting was. Bless.

    Mya x

  9. SEVERALTY!? Excellent, Mya. I think your Mum would love it. The book, not the other. X

  10. For some time I’ve had a bookcase full of books that “I’ll read one day”
    And, by jove, I’ll squeeze yours in somewhere

  11. Good work I will definitely give you a pretend offer to buy your book and thoroughly look forward to not reading it.

  12. Burn the book! The Writers and Piss Artists Handbook is a brilliant waste of money. The excitement that it builds amongst failing creatives is legendary. Thinking of taking an ad out myself!
    Dogcock and Balls Literary Agency.
    Currently never accepting any creative work. No synopsis, Script, Plays or general proof of ability required ever. Emails will not be replied to, telephone calls or death threats. Books currently full of smug writers churning out trash for lowbrow retards. Telephone – 0800 go fuck yourself or alternatively send a message in a bottle. Follow us on Twitter editor@ Iamcurrentlyon£80,000ayearanddon’treallycareaboutyourcreations.

  13. Phil, where the fuck have you been over the lat two and a half years? You’ve got a way about you. I like that. Hang around here more often, please. And thanks.

  14. Prison for cold blooded murder of a Literary Agent – hence just two and a half years, apparently I had parked illegally otherwise it would have been two weeks working in Starbucks.

  15. Whoa there Pitchibald! What spiffing news about the book wot you will write. And at last we won’t have to listen to your miserable outpourings any longer. Really, we won’t will we? Oh, fuck.


  16. pissed- girlfriend pissed off- chinese below par, just watched a re-run Downton Phnaar Phnaar Abbey- is everyone suckling the power teet of juliane fellowes. or is it me?, Historically a bit cup my balls and splash them with water.Great casting apart from the male lead that obviously tucks his nob between his legs and calls himself ben fogle. art direction, ok, storyline, well in honesty a preposterous bag of shite. It is only because Songs of Praised has dumbed down that I watch this joyous garbage. Makes my nuts feel good. xxx time for bed

  17. shit! my man you cold write better for less bra!. I only go into homie speak if i’m threatened or dealing with some one for there last litre of white lighning. BRaap, Braap Braap.

  18. Oh I like this Phil. More please.

  19. exquisitefeline

    I’ll buy it

  20. hey I am still here,tonight messaging from a canal boat in the pouring rain – dream come true holiday so hell yes we’re having a good time- that’s why I’m on the Internet! I Am buying 2 copies remember so I am pleased u have a mentor! Keep going! One day we’ll be at the awards ceremony – watching probably from the side lines! Keep smiling pitchy!

  21. Thank you very much Exquisite Feline and Julie Noble. Not sure how you happened upon this post as it’s rather old. There will be fresh stuff going up in seconds. Well, not seconds, minutes. Hours, probably. Days at the most (weeks).

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