And Now for Something Completely Different…

23 Oct

Cue brass band…BrassBand-Fairey-Tuba[1]

De de der der der de de der…

Get it?

You’re as old as me then and grew up with this lot of utter nutters…

monty python

And that tune – so evocative of all those years ago.

The something completely different I want to talk about though is the writing side of my life; that which I hope one day, in some form or another, to scrape a living make my fortune  from.

Whenever asked what my ideal profession would be, I used to always say ‘anything I can do in shorts and flip-flops’, implying something casual carried out in sunny climes. (That does still stand but I’d add pyjamas to that criterion these days.)

Being a writer fits this bill very nicely: Get up when you like, dress as you please and drink coffee for England – or iced coffee if I luck into living somewhere hot. Working from home means I wouldn’t have to join in with the rest of this crazy, bad, mad world, could opt right out of the daily commute and revel in the total lack of office politics.

Who needs all that shite in their life?

Not I, being a lazy, unsociable sod simple soul.

I have, to some extent, achieved this, by managing to get fired…alan-sugar-youre-fired

To date I’ve been binned thrice in my life ( if you don’t count two redundancies or the time I quit in the nick of time) and that’s because, when I lose interest, I am utterly unemployable.

That said, I am a grafter, have half a brain, held several jobs for four + years – one for 20 years – and run my own business for eight years or so. OK, so neither of the last two ended particularly well but both taught me invaluable lessons and were largely tremendous fun.

When sacked my contract ended at a firm in Papworth, back in 2009, John encouraged me to take a comprehensive writing course in lieu of finding another job. He was convinced I could make it in the literary world and gave me the confidence I lacked to give it a go.

As I worked my way through the assignments and, with the guidance of my (quite impressed) tutor, I submitted several articles – most of which were published. Great, I think, I can do this. But (and there always is a but) the wait for a decision is interminable – your average monthly glossies will sit on an article for up to four months before giving a yea or a nay. They may send a note of acceptance sooner but this is no guarantee they will publish. The pay is poor and very slow in coming, usually 30-60 days after publication, so pay-day might be six months or more after submission. And that’s just bonkers.

I don’t think either of us realised it just isn’t that easy, even if you have talent, are committed and actually put in the hours (many of which are spent chasing a decision or payment). The only way to make a living in this game is to be very lucky prolific, constantly churn stuff out – a real numbers game – and then probably end up selling your soul or ‘prostituting’ yourself by writing all sorts of crap that magazines want. Not for me I’m afraid; I’d rather write my sort of crap.

So, the gaps between submitting my work got bigger, assignments were taking me longer and I was getting poorer and poorer; hence the need for me to forfeit the retirement fund by selling the house (just) before events became critical.That allowed me to mess about on the river, spend a couple of three month spells in South Africa and generally do as I pleased concentrate on the coursework and hone my chosen craft, without work getting in the way of my life.

Assignment 9 took a whole two years to complete, shame on me. My article submissions all but stopped and, four years on, financial meltdown was once more on the horizon.

This may go some way to explaining why I now have two part-time jobs…


But it’s not that onerous in the scheme of things: total time at work only amounting to 20.5 hours a week, so there’s plenty of time to get writing. I’ve taken on another course – proof reading and copy editing – from which I hope to be able to give up the dodgy jobs find well-paid work, which I can do at home.

Despite my tendency for serious procrastination and willingness to be distracted, I am desperate excited and strongly motivated to make this work, and, so far, I’m going great guns. I’ve submitted my principal proof reading assessment for grading (there’s a certificate of competence on offer if I achieve a B or higher) and about to start the copy editing (more creative and better paid) part of the course.

I’m even back into the original course, the assignment I stalled on now done and dusted, and working on the next step. This is to write a non-fiction book (submitting details of chosen publishers/ research/synopsis and sample chapters). The subject is top secret at this stage so if I told you, I would have to kill you. Once this is done, I can start on the fiction side of the studying – the bit I’m most looking forward to.

I belong to a writing group, and have committed to write a book in a year. I’ve started to enter writing competitions and have won one already! The prize wasn’t that much-needed cash though but, ironically for a seasoned boatbird, a one day helmsman’s course. Been there, done that so I have donated it back to them.

OK, so I lied about the jobs. It’s more like this…21-Cleaner

But hey, it’s all a means to an end at the moment. I am enthused, motivated and that end is almost in sight…1light-endtunnel

But in the meantime, BB is enjoying the now and making the most of every moment, especially as this turned up today as quote of the week in another wordsmith’s blog I follow…pin-happy-monster

I’ll go with that. What say you?

My words, pictures from t’internet.

4 Responses to “And Now for Something Completely Different…”

  1. Chris Hall October 24, 2014 at 12:07 am #

    great piece meduck as per, re the book life and times of blyth and piercy perchance? has legs I reckon!

    • Boatbird October 24, 2014 at 10:42 am #

      Thanks Chris but I couldn’t possibly comment…!

  2. Steve & Angela October 24, 2014 at 8:34 pm #

    Go for it BoatBird. I assume you have looked at Kindle publishing. Steve Scott’s books on writing for Kindle come with good recommendations.

    • Boatbird October 24, 2014 at 9:55 pm #

      I confess I haven’t but will be sure to follow the link. Thanks for that!

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