Sunday, 20 December 2009

So This is Christmas...

...and what have you done?

2009 was definitely a year of changes for me and if you'd asked me this time last year if I'd have settled for that it would have been a big, fat, definite YES.  I needed a change.  It feels good to keep moving; if things stay the same too much I get bored.  Most significantly, it was the year that I moved in with my girlfriend after getting some psychotherapy to help me deal with the impulse to bolt.  Not funny at the time, but funny to think of it now.  Happily, co-habiting has worked out like a dream. It's like breathing - no effort and it keeps me alive.  Although I was South London and proud for ten years I have found out that West is best, at least for now.  I'm a terrible one for believing that the assumptions I make about a place or a person are true but I'm trying to change that.  There are probably as many twats in Notting Hill as there are any other part of town, its just that they drive more expensive cars and drink more cocktails.  I've even started drinking them. I know £8 is a lot for a drink, but then I think £3.50 is a lot for a pint of Guinness.  I love both, its just that cocktails work faster on me, are more interesting to drink due to my rare ingestion of them and they don't make me fart as much.  You can't beat a Chocolate Flip from the Electric, I'm telling you. 

I'm coming off the back of 3 days of pre-Christmas boozing in the name of catching up with friends before we all leg it for Christmas.  A Thursday night in a Maida Vale pub complete with a big fire, the smell of mulled wine and big fat flakes whirling around outside was contrasted sharply by a curry and a Friday night in an Islington gay bar.  The set was completed yesterday with a panto, Thai food, good friends, reflection on what has passed in the last 12 months and thoughts about the one ahead.  It's that time of year, right?  I flicked back through my emails and it became obvious that it's time for some thanks.  As usual I never got round to sending Christmas cards and it probably would have been a whole lot more professional to do so, therefore I hope that turning over the blog to being grateful will do.

Although there are countless people that didn't reply to enquiries or pitches (and I now know, that's just how it is), there are numerous people that have given me advice and encouragement.  You are; Emma Powell at Grifco, Matt Hill, Sarah Graham at the Mail, Struan, Rosie and Ellie at Salad Club, Ky at Musio for letting me write for her, Ed and Alex at Wideworld for publishing me, Eva Gizowska, Will Gray, Katy Salter, Jane Graham,Vicky Frost, Rosie Swash, Carla Bevan at Marie Claire online (apologies for fucking up the opportunity Carla), Rosalind Ryan for showing me where I went wrong, Paul Dunn at ES, Liz for helping with the book, Amanda Astill for honest words about my strengths and weaknesses, Jenny for teaching me how to write 'real life' stories, Craig at NFT for being so supportive, Dan Frost at SLP, Nicola at the Observer and Sophie at the Indy for replying .  I'd also like to thank Sian, Jamie, Sharon, Ali, Liz and John for the freelance work this year.  If I've forgotten you, then sorry and thanks!

Enjoy your time off and I'll be back in touch in the New Year.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Landlord Joys and Progress Update

The realisation that this blog is not really addressing the question it asks made me finally sit down and think about it in between trying to make some money to pay for Christmas and finding a tenant for my flat.  Both were stressing me out.  It's back to picture research for the time being (at Look magazine) to fund both the present hoard and suddenly having to pay for a mortgage on a place I don't live in. Several years ago I didn't have any sympathy for people like me as home ownership seemed so out of reach.  Little did I know that it would seem even more insurmountable now and thank God I scrimped for two years to make the deposit back in 2006. So: can I write for a living?

Not yet, not by a long chalk.  My contributions to a website are earning me a little bit of money but apparently they're not paying other contributors so I have to keep schtum about who they are.  There's also a good story idea that I've got, complete with good case studies (curious commissioning editors, get in touch now) but I'm finding it hard to make the time to pitch it to people.  Is there a difference between an excuse and a reason?  My reason (ahem) tonight is that I spent 3 hours missing trains and cursing a prospective tenant that never showed.  Karma will do for you, French girl who works at Chelsea FC.  Never mind that your accent felt like silk on my eardrum, only being a gentleman stopped me from venting my frustration when your phone went straight to voicemail as I called to find out where the bloody hell you were.

To get back to the point, I have to take some positives from what has happened so far this year.  Though it needs a lot of work, the first draft of a novel is completed and there have been bylines both online and in print, which is a foundation to build on.  The next quandry will be about turning down freelance picture research work as the redundancy cash has all but run out.  I've learnt a lot from working with people at good titles like Marie Claire, the South London Press and Look magazine but I can't help thinking that I could have done things differently (and better).  That you have to make mistakes in order to learn is some solace.  I'm doing the thing that I always wanted to do but never got around to and when I'm doing it, I find it exciting, which is pretty much all I ever wanted out of a job.  Now all I have to do is get paid for it.