Purveyor of Bollocks to the Crowned Heads of Europe
Monday, 8 October 2012
Words are like arrows
Somewhere, not too far from here, a group of disparate but conjoined people sit frozen in a time of crisis, waiting for me to tell them what to do next.
They have been in this condition of stasis for over ten years now, and I really ought to go back and see how they are getting on.
A few years ago, I contacted a well-known and successful British playwright to tell him how much I was enjoying his current series of radio drama and he politely emailed me back to thank me for my comments and tell me what a joy it was to record them with the set of brilliant character actors who make up the cast.
It turned out we had a few heroes in common, and he let me into a few secrets about unspecified references, as well as keeping me up to date with forthcoming series, etc.
Then about two weeks ago, episode one of series one was replayed and I listened to it afresh, and I was reminded why I had found it so appealing in the first place.
About fifteen years ago - long before episode one - I had begun a story which contained many of the ingredients that his drama has, strung together with (I hope) a similar line in dark humour. I put it down about halfway through, and one of the reasons I have not picked it up again is because his drama seemed to do the job just as well, and there would - it seemed to me at the time - be less reason to struggle on with mine.
Anyway, I emailed him again a couple of weeks ago to say how much I enjoyed listening to episode one again, and mentioned in passing that one of the reasons why it had such appeal to me in the first place was because of the coincidental ingredients which my little story and his had in common. I added that he should not worry, as I never bothered professional writers by asking for any opinions on whatever I had produced.
He emailed back to say that my tale sounded more like a novel than a story, and he asked if I ever finished it. I replied by saying that it was - in fact - a half-finished novel. Unfortunately, I then committed the cardinal sin against professional writers - a sin which I had promised not to commit in my previous email: I suggested that I sent him a couple of chapters in PDF format, so he could tell me whether or not it was worth continuing with. That was about 8 days ago, and I haven't heard from him since.
Despite the little voice in my head telling me not to press the 'send' button, I pressed it anyway. My unhinged reasoning told me that at least some of his time was spent in teaching creative writing to young students, but it failed to tell me that this was a job for which he was paid, and the pay for it helped supplement his own work, for which he is also paid. I suppose I could have offered him money for his advice, but somehow that would have seemed even more desperate.
Now I feel like a complete arse, and I am - unlike his fresh-faced and ambitious students - just too far advanced in age to be feeling like that.