Most of the writing I produce is for other people. Clear, concise steps for solving a problem; guiding the reader through PC repairs, smartphone solutions, online security challenges… perhaps a bit of light HTML or CSS, or desktop computing issues.
It’s a specific type of writing. Occasionally I get to expand this, maybe with a hardware review or or to offer my thoughts on a particular topic. Overall, though, it’s a little drier than I would like, but that comes with the territory.
With the children returning to school I saw the opportunity to revive some projects I had put on hold. These have been outlined elsewhere here, but I’m moving towards a realisation that I’m having repeated to me again and again…
I am the audience
I’ve wasted a lot of time (perhaps too much) with publishers and agents over the years. I’m successful enough to make an above average income from freelance writing, so I don’t really need to chase after a “deal” that will likely result in hundreds of hours of work for minimal returns.
Every single time I’ve gone down that path I’ve been writing to a prescription, what I understood other people wanted to read or hear. In my experience, that doesn’t work. I’ve been relieved to hear various comments along these lines on one of my favourite podcasts, Sitcom Geeks, and it has given me a bit more confidence to just write what I want.
In my younger days, when I thought I might be a teller of fantastic adventure stories as an adult, I only ever wrote to entertain, thrill, or even scare myself. The idea of writing for other people at that point in time scared me; perhaps that is the right way to feel. Write for yourself, then share it regardless.
Meat the Mayor
A project that is reaping the benefits of this approach is a book I’m collaborating on with the wholly fictional character of Barry Meat.
He’s a former rock star and current mayor of the Yorkshire Triangle, an area of Yorkshire comprising three villages: Crabladder, Fannyride, and Banjostring.
These ideas have been dancing around in my head for years. When I entered the BBC Comedy Award in 2000/2001(?) the routine was built around a character hailing from this bizarre, fun, slightly pan-dimensional region. (True story: I forgot half the jokes as I was up last and had drank heavily to calm my nerves.)
The book, which is around 50% written (but needs quite a bit of layout work, so let’s call it 25%) is Barry Meat’s recollections of his youth in Yorkshire, complemented with a selection of original photos. It’s rude, silly, slightly surreal, and it makes me howl as I write it. I’m designing it in the style of a travel book, there may also be a calendar, and its production is entirely down to me.
I haven’t had this much fun writing in years.
It’s no joke
If you read my last blog you may have learned of my son’s success with a joke in a Red Nose Day challenge at school. He ended up as one of the finalists and had to record the joke for votes on Facebook. Sadly, his delivery on camera was not enough to win. As for giving him a taste for comedy… he’s long had a cheeky and anarchic sense of humour, so I don’t think this minor setback will dissuade him.