Friday, 24 December 2010

Let's Go Round Again

One last chance to get the fingers on the keys before I get away to see my family.  A couple more presents to buy, a train ride and then three days of reacquaintance.  At this time of year I always find myself weighing up how the year has gone for me.  In terms of the blog, I got my question answered - I can't write for a living.  Perhaps I wasn't trying hard enough.  But for all that it was a pretty good year.  I travelled 3 times and got paid to do so (ok, twice, but the trip to Texas was definitely worth it, even if it didn't bring in any cash).  I got a couple of coverlines and I met more than a few interesting people as a result of this blog - there'll be an interview with one of them on here in the New Year incidentally.  The big highlight was the completely unique, unlikely ever to be bettered experience of inadvertently getting married in Ghana.  I'll get to do it all again, English style, this year.  Personally, it has been a challenging year and it looks like there's going to be a few more potholes in the road in 2011.  But I'm a London bike rider - I'm good at avoiding potential disaster.

So here's some good stuff that I found this year.  I found a few websites that I really like - it was nice to have some choice as my default sites are usually Twitter, Facebook and the BBC, in that order.  Platform and Sabotage Times should provide you with some distraction, should you get bored of sitting in front of the box in the next couple of days.  Always entertaining, best bloggers around are He Said, She Said and Pitchy.  Things are going really well for Pitchy it seems (despite being ill and living in Surrey) - hope he holds it together and becomes the success he deserves to be in 2011.

There are quite a few people I need to thank for helping me have a pretty cool year. A journalist that wrote back with useful advice was Rosie Swash - her podcast with Alexis Petridis is good if only because it illustrates how intensely passionate they both are about music.  Given that I no longer pore over the pages of NME, it's also a good place for me to find new music.  Journalists I need to thank for giving me the chance to write for them this year: Marie Claire Dorking at Company, Terri White at Shortlist, Duncan Craig at The Express, Matt Weiner at Sabotage Times, Martin Deeson and Mark Hedley at Hedge and Square Mile (and Eugene Costello for all the help and support he has given).   Lucy Land at West London Living.  Also Rachel Johnson at The Lady, perhaps the most surprising place I found myself this year.  The Lady also wins best office award; it's got character in abundance, lovely people and Coco the dog wandering around.  Thanks too to Jenny Wood at Look (now Buzz) and Andrea Thompson at Marie Claire.  There's bound to be someone that I've forgotten so if so, apologies and please feel free to write and berate me.   Eat, drink, be merry and we'll do it all again next year eh?

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Sociable Networking

As much as I gripe about always having to look at a screen (monitor at work, Iphone on the tube, TV if I'm weak when I get home) one positive thing about social networking is, if you want to, you can get to meet some of the people that like your stuff.  In the case of @40before30, she started following this blog, then I started following her on Twitter and the other night we got to have a drink together.  Nothing dodgy about it (I've put on here that I got married in any case), it's because I think she might be good for a column I read regularly in a magazine.  I thought her job was pretty interesting (she gets to fly all over the world for a living) so even if the mag I've got in mind isn't keen, the interview will probably end up on here.  I mention the meet up because there are lots of features popping up stressing how lonely social networking can be.  You know the sort of thing; people have 376 'friends' on Facebook but they can't think of a single person to call when they're feeling a bit pissed off or they're on Chatroulette because they've formed an umbilical cord to their laptop and can't get out to the pub.  If you want to read a good blog on how the enjoyable social aspect of work has been removed for one bloke, you could do a lot worse than read Chris Floyd's blog on it here.

As I've never been formally taught how to pitch stories (does that happen?) and I was getting frustrated at not having placed a story that I had in mind, I went on Susan Grossman's 'Pitching to Editors' course.  If you've googled those keywords and you've ended up here, you're basically wanting to know if it's worth the money.  It is.  Susan breaks pitching down into a few very simple rules, you're left with a template for future pitches and her energy and enthusiasm is infectious.  Plus it's likely that she'll be holding the course at RIBA, which is a beautiful building that you've probably never been into (unless you're an architect).

Lastly, I'm ending the year with a bang.  The commission that I mentioned in an earlier post is out now, in Square Mile magazine.  Not only that, but it was their cover feature.  Ideally I wouldn't be defending fat cats in print but the truth is I enjoyed the challenge of writing about someone whom I knew nothing about when I took the commission.  Proved to myself that I could do it.  Lastly and for no good reason you should check out the wonderful, Burial produced 'Night Air' by Jamie Woon.  I'm hoping if I it gets into your head, it'll come out of mine.