Six days under the Portugal sun have done wonders for my creative juices. They’re flowing beautifully once more. Lying on that sun bed, you see, gives you time to think, to let your mind wander, to think about that next major writing project. (Major in my life, I hasten to add, not necessarily in the wide world of writing.) The not long-awaited follow-up to my worst selling book ‘Corfu, not a scorcher’ is now a seed.
No plot spoilers from me in this brief blog. This is for a very good reason: there is no plot to spoil. There are vague ideas of how this one is going to develop and I am putting these long hours in the sun to good use, at least when I am not at the bar or falling asleep on said sun bed.
This writing malarkey is not easy, though, If it was, I would be far more successful than a blogger of approaching 3000 pieces in four years, not to mention a former programme contributor at Bristol Rovers from 1999 to 2018, albeit with some years missing along the way. That’s an awful lot of writing with precious little success along the way and certainly very little money. But surely that’s not the point?
Well, actually, it is the point. I refused the Bristol Post’s approaches for years to write a Rovers based column every week because they wanted me to do it for nothing and I declined to continue to write for the excellent local magazine Bristol 24/7 for the same reason, although I have been flattered that they have occasionally run pieces from my blog. I got to a point when – and this is going to sound so pretentious – I considered my writing to be my work. Yes, it is a pleasure to write stuff for not that many people, sadly, but like every other writer, artist, musician, actor, it’s what I do and it’s what I wish I did all the time.
That I am rarely paid for my work is mainly down to one thing: no one thinks my work is worth paying for. I leave it for others to decide whether no one thinks it’s worth paying for because it is so crap, although I am not frightened of negative criticism, or indeed deterred by it. I certainly don’t get upset if someone says my stuff is rubbish although I’d rather they said it was good.
Perhaps there is also an element of modern times in that no one wants to pay for anything these days. Sales of newspapers are plunging because people can get their fix of news on line. By and large, younger people don’t bother with newspapers. Join me in the queue at my local Co-op if you don’t believe me, as my fellow customers pay for their Daily Express, a bag of Werthers originals and the latest issue of People’s Friend. These people have a lot in common with me, except for the bits about the Express, Werthers and People’s Friend. We’re all old.
It is not just newspapers where the chances to earn money from writing are disappearing. When I was younger, I bought as many as five, sometimes six, music magazines a week. That’s a lot of music writing to be done, all of it paid. Now there are literally no weekly magazines that you have to pay for. Even the once great NME is now a tiny, glossy freebie that is little more attractive to look at than the latest ad sheet from the local Pizza store and Curry House. It’s the same in everything. In Bristol, we had a fortnightly magazine called Venue which covered everything from music listings to restaurant reviews. It’s no longer sold in newsagents (ask your parents’, kids, if you want to know what a newsagent is) and those journalists had to go somewhere. Or perhaps they went nowhere and stopped writing? In which case, as Ian Dury put it so well, what a waste.
So, the best I can do is self-publish another book and simply be happy that I’ve done it and not worry whether anyone actually buys it. If I don’t make it as a writer, it won’t be for lack of trying and if my best shot isn’t good enough, so be it.