Freedom From The Mundane - A Writer's Blog

Monday, September 18, 2006

Money Talks

Almost forgot this morning that I had the day off to look after Laura. It's the September break already, though if it were up to me they wouldn't get all these extra holidays. As well as it being a drain on the working parent, the kids seem to take all the time off for granted.

I don't remember there ever being this amount of scattered days and weeks off when I was at school. No wonder kids don't get time to get into something beofre they are whisked away again. And they say standards are slipping!

It was a slower day today. I had to run some errands in the morning then clean out the animal cages, and give them a wee nail trim. Took about an hour then I got started with some polishing of the stories I've been working on.

I made a few submissions afterwards - to paying markets mostly, where I though that a) the story fit well and b) I will get paid. Money is rather tight after the holidays and it's given me the spur to look for paying markets first, rather than going for the credit to build up the CV.

Something that one of the authors in the Business of Writing seminar I went to at the Book Festival has stuck with me. Writers who are pressured financially in the early stages of their careers, tend to work harder and produce their best work while under it.

Is this true? I'm not sure, but when I think back to what Rankin said to me about his first book, and how he needed the sale just to live one, I do wonder how far away I could reasonably consider myself away from a sale that would break me in. It's not like I am short of ideas, the mentality, flexibility and skills, I just have to get myself marketed positively and follow it through. I need to be more aggressive. The time to switch is coming, and it may be sooner rather than later.

I think, from a financial point of view, I am going to have to resume work on my two WIP's: Hunting Jack and A Friend to Die For. I have to get these pitched as finished bodies of work, and put behind me the fact I want to work on other things. I have to continue to improve my short story submissions, and I have to try and get Fringe Fantastic selling. I get plenty of kudos for it, but it's the green stuff I need now after all I invested, physically, mentally and financially.

So I spent most of the day searching out and organising markets that pay, freelance job opportunities for writing gigs and doing up my CV and cover letters.

I spent the entire day and evening at the PC working on this stuff, so by 9pm I was aching. I stoped to watch Spooks - next weeks; episode airing early.

Also, at the Prince Of Wales Theatre in London recently, a variety show was held in celebration of the life and work of ex-UK poet laureate, John Betjeman. It featured contributions from various famous personalities, including, Ronnie Corbett, Stephen Fry, Judi Dench, Richard E Grant, Prunella Scales, Joanna Lumley, Bill Nighy, Nick Cave, and Jools Holland to name a few.

His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales was in attendance and witnessed a classy performance of readings of John Betjeman's work. Among the tributes, was one by my man, Suggs; lead singer of Madness. Suggs delivered On A Portrait Of A Deaf Man, and I'd like to share it here, because I happen to think it's superb.

On A Portrait Of A Deaf Man

The kind old face, the egg-shaped head,
The tie, discreetly loud,
The loosely fitting shooting clothes,
A closely fitting shroud.

He liked old city dining rooms,
Potatoes in their skin,
But now his mouth is wide to let
The London clay come in.

He took me on long silent walks
In country lanes when young.
He knew the names of ev'ry bird
But not the song it sung.

And when he could not hear me speak
He smiled and looked so wise
That now I do not like to think
Of maggots in his eyes.

He liked the rain-washed Cornish air
And smell of ploughed-up soil,
He liked a landscape big and bare
And painted it in oil.

But least of all he liked that place
Which hangs on Highgate Hill
Of soaked Carrara-covered earth
For Londoners to fill.

He would have liked to say goodbye,
Shake hands with many friends,
In Highgate now his finger-bones
Stick through his finger-ends.

You, God, who treat him thus and thus,
Say "Save his soul and pray."
You ask me to believe You and
I only see decay.

by Sir John Betjeman
Colin 2:18 pm


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