Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Celebrity - no thanks!

I watched a podcast (I am not sure if that is the right word) last night.  It was of Caitlin Moran speaking to David Aaronvitch, about her book 'How to be a Woman'.

Here's the link:
You can click on the 'Watch Caitlin' button at the top to see it.  It's definitely worth looking at - although it is an hour and forty minutes long.  Look at it as an evening's entertainment.

She said she gets two thousand tweets a day from people she doesn't know, and that is why she doesn't reply to them - which made me squirm with embarrassment, as I tweeted her a few weeks ago.  She had written about schizophrenia in The Times Saturday magazine, so I wanted to point her to this blog, and others, which she might have found informative.

But of course, Caitlin Moran doesn't have time for mental health - or only as a passing topic.  It is not her specialist subject, it is mine (and not exclusively mine, obviously).   During this talk Caitlin asked why there are not more people with specialist interests writing columns - who better to write a column about being on benefits, for example, than someone who is?

Well, apart from the fact that if you had a column about being on benefits you would get paid for it and therefore not be on benefits any more, it is just not that easy to get a column.  Caitlin is obviously talented, but her success owes something to luck - or fate - too, and as she said nowadays it would be almost impossible for a working class person to break into top-level journalism as she did.

But maybe I should pitch a mental health column to The Times.  Who knows..?

Watching the podcast (?) gave me much pause for thought.  There were apparently one thousand people in the audience, and I am pretty sure that a lot of them were aspiring writers, or aspiring celebrity writers.  What I mean is, they looked like media types, or other sorts of professional people, and I am sure because of the nature of the event (an author talk) that plenty of the audience were hoping to learn something about how to take a similar path to Caitlin Moran - the path to success.  I have been to a few author talks over the years, and there are always a good smattering of aspiring writers in the audience.

What I am trying to say is - it is almost impossible to learn how to break through.  Apart from writing and writing (and it's surprising how many aspiring writers - probably the majority - neglect to put pen to paper very often at all) - we have little control over how successful our books will be.  A lot of it is down to marketing, being in the right place at the right time, and so on.  Caitlin slogged for twenty years before reaching her current dizzy heights of fame.  I reckon that's about an average length of time. 

And anyway, after watching the (film thing) I am not sure if I aspire to celebrity at all.  I don't think I have the stamina.  Caitlin has a huge fan base, but she has some detractors too, and she was defending herself against some of them (eg the people who complain that she only communicates with other celebrities on Twitter).  I don't think I would like to live under that degree of scrutiny.

I would like to be recognised for my writing, though.  Each time I get a good review of my book it makes me so excessively happy - I know I am a writer now, but confirmation of that fact will always be sweet.  I entered a memoir writing competition a while ago; the prize is publication by Hodder, and I can't help but hope...

But if I don't ever get an agent or a proper publisher, I don't think I would despair, as long as I could continue to write and to earn a small income from it.  We have everything we need in our little home - it's warm and dry, and best of all there's plenty of love.  I just cribbed that line from a children's book called 'Little Kitten Gets Lost' or something like that - but it fits, it really does.  There are some things that money can buy and some that it can't, but in certain circumstances fame can be a spoiler, I'm sure of it. 

Now I'm going to get on and pitch that column.

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