Archive | October, 2010

Day #100 – Over and (not quite) out

28 Oct

And here we are at the finish line. 100 days. The gestation period of a domestic pig. More than a year on Mercury. (Nearly) 100 pitches. (Nearly) 100 tears. It certainly has been an interesting ride. If one was to attempt to capture the emotional rollercoaster schematically, it might look a little something like this:

H.P Lovecraft - the picture says it all

What have I learnt? Well firstly that freelance pitching is best approached as a stand-alone profession, rather than squished in between a hectic office job, freelance consulting gigs and an untenable social life. And I’ve learnt to greatly respect those who commit to this as a full time profession. That is, the kind of respect you reserve for the clinically insane.

I’ve also learnt, courtesy of this nifty little online tool, that my writing style of this blog is like that of H.P Lovecraft. Despite the romantic semantics of the name, he is, apparently, the master of bloodcurdling horror and the macabre. Which is probably a reasonably apt summation of the last 3 1/3 months.

I don’t quite have the bursting portfolio I envisaged at the start of this process. But what’s given me the most satisfaction are some of the unexpected wins – offers of contacts, encouragement from editors, writers and friends and interviews and pieces on things I never thought I’d get to research. Like dramatherapy and shitting civets.Unexpectedly, the part I loved most was writing this blog – unrestricted streams of consciousness in my own voice, and the joy of getting another comment or subscriber (even strangers) or a whole lot of hits. This was just designed for a few mates to follow my progress but somehow it’s received 5000 hits in 3 months, and now when an editor asks to see a sample of my work I can point them in this direction.

Pitchfever was a knackering, constant and exposed experiment, but I know I wouldn’t have got round to a single pitch unless I was being held accountable by you all. And the process has changed my outlook – instead of waiting for an idea to be to be crafted perfectly, I’ll just get it out there. Hatching ideas, whether inspired or rubbish, has become a daily habit, like teeth brushing or pinot noir. I’m noticing stories in everything, and ultimately, am looking at the world in a different way. And I, for one, quite like the vista.

I’ve shifted my stance on writing as a fulltime career now I think, but I like the idea of dabbling in it, and juggling journalism with other work. I’ve bought myself a little ideas book. I’ve paid my annual AWM subscription. In a week I move to a place with a real study, a definite upgrade from the coffee table. So, dear subscribers, if you don’t quite mind (and didn’t only sign up because there was a clear exit strategy come October) I might just keep updating the pitchfever blog. Feel free to opt out, but I promise to only regale you every now and then, with tidbits and snippets from the pitching and writing world. Thanks for coming on the journey and for all the banter, comments and love. Cliche or not, I couldn’t have done it with out you.

Post note…

The boy must be relieved this is over – on day 100 he proposed. He’s definitely now moved up a notch ahead of the MacBook on the ‘Possessions I Love’ list.

Day # 93 – One Week To Go

20 Oct

Day 93. You don’t have to be Grigory Perelman to work out that equates to one more week of this pitching malarkey. And, effectively, my twenties. Yup, over the hill in under a week and hopefully more mature and less inclined to make ridiculously public declarations of intent like this here blog. Hopefully this also means conversations can return to normal, rather than:

Person: so how’s that pitching thing going?

Me: look, there’s a squirrel!

Perhaps I can return to decent night’s sleep rather than leaping out of bed remembering I haven’t pitched, or waking bolt upright in the middle of the night with what seems like a brilliant idea (on closer inspection of the scribbled notes in the morning, it always manages to disappoint). Maybe I can bring my laptop back into the bedroom after it was banned following an accusation that I loved it more than my bedfellow. No comment.

Those with keen powers of observation may also have noticed its been a record gap of 20 days between posts. Whilst my pitching began with gusto, in these dying days of the experiment the process has become somewhat tepid. In fact, it has reflected my standard system when approaching any major deadline, particularly one I care about: Denial. Absolute unashamed, unbridled procrastination. It’s an art, I tells ya. (It really is: in a twisted and perverse psychological sense this self-sabotage is actually very clever: if you fail, you can blame lack of preparation, if you nail it, you’re a genius – you didn’t even prepare).

There have been a couple of sporadic bursts of action since we spoke last. I did have a quasi-epiphanic moment regarding travel journalism. Surely, after professional footy, this is the greatest scam in the working world: get paid to do what everyone else pays to do. I’m still very much in the sucker category, with large travel debts from spending the last decade gallivanting around the globe. As such, I haven’t been able to plan travel anywhere very word-worthy lately, excluding me from this kind of writing. Until it occurred to me I could dust off the old emails and write about the places I’d already been. So a few pitches went off in this vain – authentic family yurt experiences in Mongolia, catching the ferry from Stockholm to Tallin, a local’s guide to Goa, and how to buy a coffee plantation on the cheap in Columbia.

I also decided in these last couple of weeks of accountable, enforced pitches that they might as well be about something I’ve always wanted to know about. A long laundry list later, I shortlisted 3 or 4 burning topics, which will kill two self-serving birds with one stone if commissioned: advice on buying a vintage car, microfinancing for dummies and one on the social implications of men-only detention centres from next year (admittedly, I only realised I wanted to know about this on Tuesday, but its burning nonetheless).

I want to be one of those smart cookies, glasses and all

And this week, I’m setting myself the greatest challenge so far. The mother of all procrastination pitches: a pitch to the mag I want to write for the most. I’ve been waiting until the end so I could send them a dazzling portfolio of published pieces, but in the absence of those it will just have to be a cracker of an idea. The magazine is Frankie, and I’ve been putting it off because I want to get it just right – they have a really specific style (intelligent, witty, irreverent) and their writers (especially Marieke Hardy and Benjamin Law) are my heroes. The idea itself has not been forthcoming, but I’m hoping to change that tonight over a brainstorming workshop with friends. They’re under the impression it’s a birthday dinner but such is the necessary duplicity of the budding writer.

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