Uptight & Personal Diary Entry March 3rd

4 03 2010

3rd March

Bad start to day. Endo attack first thing and then discover there are no pain killers in the house. Have to text Linda and ask her to give me a lift to work where my secret stash of pain relief is in my desk drawer. Arrive at work walking like one of Dr. Frankenstein’s earlier experiments until drugs kick in. Blame stress of job on attack. Yesterday I sent an email to Austin asking him how he coped with Nick banging on at him about signings and he emails back ‘Drink mostly’. The problem is that Tesco’s will no longer deliver to me because they refuse to believe the amount ordered is for personal consumption. Whatever happened to the EEC wine lake? that’s what I want to know. I always had this vision of it being located somewhere picturesque – like between Lakes Como and Maggiore for example and one could perhaps holiday there. I’m sure Eurostar would get in on the act and have a dipsomaniacs special running.

Wonder why it was when my social life was non-existent and I could have happily spent my time sitting at home working on freelance projects I had none, and now when I am inundated with freelance work I am out almost every school night and my weekends are chockers.? Not only am I trying to juggle scripting and ghost writing paying gigs I am also trying to finish my TV series pilot and put together the outline for my documentary plus I have to prepare my lecture for Anglia Ruskin. It’s a re-visit of that old 60’s adage: Don’t go to work – there’s too much to do.

Too much to do tonight entails attending the inaugural CAMPUS (Cambridge Publishing Society) meeting. Wendy and I set off after work and she has to put up with me attempting to photograph Gimli on Ely station. Who I hear you ask, is Gimli?

Gimli is something that managed to creep through a trans-dimensional portal and found himself unable to crawl back. He wears a remote control strapped to his arm that he has somehow altered to have a joystick on it. He wears a Dr. Who waistcoat with question marks all over it as well as a Dr. Who scarf. In summer he has been known to wear a hat with solar panels on it. In winter this is replaced by a hat of the knitted variety (and clearly from the same source as the scarf). Matt reports he listens to recordings of Davros on his mp3 player. The local school kids have coined the moniker ‘Gimli’ and he tends to lurk down one end of the platform until his train arrives to avoid them. When the train comes in, even before the light indicating the door can be opened goes on, Gimli will be obsessively compulsively punching away at it. If someone attempts to enter the carriage before him he becomes agitated.

Gimli has been the subject of much speculation between Matt and myself as to what job he can possibly hold down where they tolerate him turning up for work so outlandishly dressed. Seeing as Matt reports that Gimli often catches a taxi from Ely station, this leads me to believe that Gimli, while challenged on both the social and fashion fronts, is in fact some kind of genius and is therefore tolerated for his unique scientific or technical skills and also paid a six-figure salary.

Matt has thrown down the gauntlet and bet me that I won’t be able to get a photo of Gimli. It’s a challenge I’m unable to resist and I lurk talking to Wendy, BlackBerry at the ready. As the train approaches, Gimli starts to walk up the platform towards us. I am about to bang off the perfect shot but a bunch of students crowd my line of sight. However, I  still manage to get off one shot of Gimli which I gleefully email to Matt to prove my mission accomplished. Wendy however wants to know if I am 40 going on 8. As if we don’t already know the answer to that question.

Matt texts me back to congratulate me on outstanding work.

 

Catch up with Andrea at the CAMPUS event which proves very interesting with a talk on the role of the editor (do we really need them?), and plenty of networking opportunities. Of course we need editors as speaking as a writer it’s almost impossible to edit your own work and you miss mistakes. Then there’s the habit of most writers to bang on and on, monologuing or indulging in didacticism which a good editor puts a stop right away. It’s like letting a director cut together his or her own film. We need editors and good ones only enhance the finished product.

Mind you, having said all that I believe the publishing industry is reluctant to see themselves as a branch of the entertainment industry the same as films, games and music. There’s still an elitism attached to the written world even if all you are purveying is Jordan’s sixth novel (which she has yet to read). I put this down to the fact that after the visual arts, this is the oldest form of creative expression that pre-dates mass media entertainment. Reading was confined to the upper echelons of society who considered themselves superior to the proletariat. Now the mass market can read there is still this division between popular fiction and ‘superior’ literature. However, the popular fiction funds the literature, just as films like The Hangover create an environment where your thoughtful, low-budget art-house film can get made. And the fact is – sometimes one wants brain candy.

The thing is – it’s all about brand which is what was being touched on last night. But it goes further than just branding a publishing house or imprint. It extends to making the authors themselves a brand ‘experience’ – something the publishing industry don’t seem to be grasping. The reason people buy celebrity books – be they ghost-written novels, autobiographies, cookbooks or whatever, is that they feel a ‘connection’, an experience to the celebrity in question which has been garnered from films, TV, gossip mags etc – in other words, this is brand ‘experience’. One thing about brand experience – you don’t have to have somebody telegenic to create it.

Now I’m on my soapbox and being didactic. Time for the editor to step in.

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