A very long time ago I managed to get Ian Hislop’s autograph. In those days I tapped my work into an electronic typewriter that had a small screen and saved stuff onto a floppy disk. It worked well and was considerably less trouble than the wretched device I am now using. Progress it’s called.
Non-commissioned work was dispatched to editors in large hopeful envelopes for their consideration. One day – I remember it was raining slightly which may have been a sign – I crafted an article for inclusion in that old established bastion of British satire – Private Eye.
It was a great piece of work, I proclaimed: witty and satirical; something for everyone. It couldn’t fail to amuse and inform. Well, of course, it came back as if on an elastic band and written across my typescript was Mr Hislop’s signature – just under the words, “No thanks”. This was the life of a writer then and today it is much, much worse because everybody’s at it. This is especially true when writing about cars. At least Hislop sent it back. These days with email and the like you will be lucky to get the courtesy of a reply at all. A few car companies are like this; you’ll need a thick skin because you’ll get a whole lot of rejection.
The internet is voracious. It consumes content in huge quantities yet is never satisfied. Much of what is written is regrettably second rate or worse and it has become increasingly difficult to know what people want. So many writers try to deliver what they think is unique only to find after much labour it has been done ten times before. It’s getting much harder to find a new angle.
It gets even worse if a budding writer strives to do this for a living. When I first started I wrote articles, news items, short stories and scripts for a whole year before, early one morning, an editor of a cycling magazine ‘phoned me and said, “I like your stuff” and, crucially, he was willing to pay for it. These days there are very many people out there who want the fruits of your labour but are not willing to stump up the readies for it. There’s a lot of this about and even though getting your material published in this way might seem like a breakthrough, it really isn’t. Never be ashamed to put a price on your work.
The same goes for the many marketing outfits and companies who want to place promotional stuff on your blog or website. This is of no value to you despite their promises to ‘promote your blog on our site’. Hogwash – they just want free product placement in the belief that you will take all the content you can get to flesh out your own efforts. Stick to your guns and put a value on your work – it’s the only way you will ever make a living, impoverished though it is likely to be. At least you will be doing something that YOU want to do. That’s the important thing.
So, despite all the seeming negativity, you should always persevere with your writing, part-time at first if necessary. If you, albeit reluctantly, throw in the towel you are effectively giving up a personal part of your life and it will leave a little boiling pot of frustration inside you. Stick to your guns, make your stuff as good and original as it can be and someone, somewhere will reward you for it. Getting the chance to drive a few cool cars is one thing; getting people to notice you is quite another.