Month: August 2009

Like riding a bike, up a hill, six days a week. Let’s do this thing

This week it begins again. The madness.

In a little over four months, I’m due to submit the manuscript for my next book.

Of course I’ve known about the deadline since the beginning of the year – and I’ve been anticipating it for even longer – but the truth is, unless the deadline Banshee is screaming, I just don’t have the motivation to do my best work. Or any work at all, really.

I left it this late with the last book too, but back then I was in the fortunate position of just having been dumped, both from the latest in a succession of jobs and by the latest in a succession of women. This left me with plenty of time to write, with only episodes of Diagnosis Murder and days-long bouts of sobbing to distract me from my contractual obligation. Even then, if blog timestamps serve me correctly, I staggered across the finish line  two weeks late.

Second time not so lucky. This time, personal life aside, I have two paying gigs – at the Telegraph and on TechCrunch – each week; amounting to a baseline of three full-length columns a week. And that’s before whatever else is demanded by my demanding editors.

The book, assuming the same length as the last one, will weigh in at about 100,000 words. Some of it is already written: a couple of chapters are in a state where I’d be happy for you to read them. But still, allowing for special occasions, prior commitments, conferences and the like, I’ve just worked out that I need to be writing about 1,000 words a day, six days a week to come anywhere close to meeting my deadline. Add in the world-load of the columns over those six days and that total nudges towards 2,000 a day.

I feel sick.

Which is my way of saying I’m sorry. I’m sorry if for the next few months it takes me a bit longer than is polite to answer your email; or if I snippily reject your kind invitation to attend some event or other; or if I can’t even find the time necessary to respond to your friendly Twitter @reply with a dismissive ‘LOL’.

If I’m to have any hope whatever of finishing this mother, then every word I write and every work-related thing I attend in the next four months needs to contribute somehow to that daily 2,000. After all, W&N have entrusted me – again, the fools – with a book advance; and TechCrunch and the Telegraph are keeping me, healthily, in coffee and other stimulants – so really it’s the least I can do to give them my all.

Having said all of that, as happened with the last book, I probably will start writing more short posts on here as my deadline ploughs near. Once I get into a writing mood, it’s hard to stop and if I don’t write the occasional piece of badly-written navel-gazing bullshit here then there’s a risk it’ll end up (more so than usual) in something I’m being paid for.

So, apology given and explanation made – here we go again. Head down, coffee poured, fingers poised and – inshallah – by the time I turn 30 this December, the end will be in sight. Because God knows I’m getting too old for this shit.

Stumbling down the path to hell wearing a Pepsi-branded blindfold

(I wrote a version of this post as a comment on TechCrunch but it’s buried beneath at least 125 others, so I’m posting an expanded version here. Forgive the lack of polish, as I say it’s really just an over-long comment…)

In this week’s TechCrunch column I talked about the upcoming Microsoft-sponsored episode of Family Guy. An abortion of a judgment call I called it, particularly on the part of Seth MacFarlane. Furthermore, I suggested that the episode can’t possibly be funny.

Normally I don’t pay too much heed to comments under my posts – like with most stuff online they’re usually a blend of “that was great” and “that was terrible”, with the occasional insightful gem along the way. But not this week. This week I appear to have unleashed a tsunami (I’m aware that’s a totally mashed metaphor) of fanboyism from both the Microsoft supporters (who, weirdly, saw my words as some sort of pro-Apple thing) and from Family Guy fans who challenged me to watch the episode commercial before making up my mind.

What worries me about the majority of these commenters is this…

a) they can’t spell simple words – and of course they’re/their/there is an unfathomable mystery

b) they think fag/homo/etc are appropriate insults to use while making their point.


They don’t see anything inherently wrong with any kind of product placement/advertorial, let alone something this heinous.

What they seem incapable of grasping is that it doesn’t matter if the show is funny or not. It won’t be, but it doesn’t matter. What matters – YOU IDIOTS – is that it’s a commercial. You are being sold to by someone who first earned your trust by producing hundreds of episodes sticking it to the man. You are the victim of a classic bait and switch, for Seth MacFarlane’s personal gain.

Seriously, I’m worried that we have an upcoming generation (I’m guessing these are kids judging by points a&b above) that sees no line – NO LINE AT ALL – between commerce and creativity. A generation, clearly, who grew up without Bill Hicks.

I firmly believe that Hicks should be taught in schools, but he isn’t, so I guess it falls to me. Grab a pen, kids – because in about 50 years when I’m dead and your world is a fetid cesspool of McDonald’s art galleries and Yahoo!-branded opera, you’re going to wish you had…

“Do a commercial, you’re off the artistic roll call, every word you say is suspect, you’re a corporate whore and eh, end of story…

By the way if anyone here is in advertising or marketing… kill yourself. No, no, no it’s just a little thought. I’m just trying to plant seeds. Maybe one day, they’ll take root – I don’t know. You try, you do what you can. Kill yourself.

Seriously though, if you are, do. Aaah, no really, there’s no rationalisation for what you do and you are Satan’s little helpers. Okay – kill yourself – seriously. You are the ruiner of all things good, seriously. No this is not a joke, you’re going, “there’s going to be a joke coming,” there’s no fucking joke coming. You are Satan’s spawn filling the world with bile and garbage. You are fucked and you are fucking us. Kill yourself. It’s the only way to save your fucking soul, kill yourself.”

Now, the first person to say they don’t know who Bill Hicks is, or to call him a “fag” wins a cookie. Delivered by shotgun.

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