Friday 31 May 2013

Last week

Mis-read ‘the Centre for New Writing’ as ‘the Centre for Not Writing’. Considered who should go there, who would benefit.

Got annoyed by someone saying Salt couldn’t sell poetry books because they didn’t have a ‘publicity budget’. Remembered, from earlier this month, when a CBe author was flown to London to read, the email from the freelance publicist (has worked for big publishers, big authors): she would find it ‘incredibly useful’ to know the date of publication of the CBe edition, and more info about the author. It being beyond her wit to click on (1) the CBe website, and (2) the author’s website, which includes a full ‘press pack’ (photos, CV, interviews, the lot). Remembered, also from earlier this month, asking big-name publisher if they’d care to contribute to the cost of wine at a reading by CBe author and one of their own authors. No: they didn’t have a ‘budget’ for this.

Wondered what hourly/weekly/project fee the aforesaid freelance publicist charges.

Wondered what hourly/weekly/project fee I might charge for editing/design/typesetting etc, and to whom I could send this invoice.

Looked hard at a postcard with a photo of the cave in the middle of nowhere where, supposedly, Bonnie Prince Charlie holed up. For a while.

Checked the cricket scores.

Discovered that if I am a member of the Society of Authors and the author/translator I want to get in touch with also happens to be a member, the process is wonderfully simple and efficient.

Went to have tea with translator. Tea extended into Campari-&-sodas.

Got sent a book to review which I didn’t take to, so suggested I do something instead on another new book that I really like. Was told OK, two reviews. Did both.

Took in PBS submissions by hand (saving on postage).

Worried that review of first book was too mean. Not much, but a little.

Drank the left-over wine that the big-name publisher didn’t have a budget for.

Wrote and sent off report on RLF Fellowship, which I could have done before but had been worrying about the ungratefulness of saying, to my hosts, that taking overseas students’ fees (up to £18,500 a year) for courses largely assessed on an ability to perform a task (writing essays) for which they are not equipped is deeply unfair on both the students and the teachers who assess them. Stopped worrying.

Watched DVD of Almost Famous. Lester Bangs (played by Philip Seymour Hoffman): ‘Be honest and be unmerciful.’ Repeated. Do I like this film just because I fancy Kate Hudson?

Watched DVD of the Coen brothers’ The Man Who Wasn’t There. Billy Bob Thornton, in that film, is my exact double.

Thought of a random number between 1 and 500 and sent a book (publishing in July) to print.

Collected new printing of hot-selling book from printer and took boxes over to warehouse, other side of London. Brought back boxes of cold-selling book of other publisher, involving delivery to storage in a legally squatted factory and subsequent visit to stationery shop close by house in which (see Nights and Days in W12, page 29) ‘Robert Graves lived in the 1920s in a ménage à quatre, where his lover Laura Riding jumped from a third-floor window (and broke her back) and Graves, in sympathy, jumped from a lower window (and twisted his ankle)’.

Met local poet, resulting in going to party at house with poets in one upstairs room, meditation in other, story-telling downstairs and music too. People named Piers and Tabitha. Woman with Indian headdress, man in horse-riding gear with whip. Left early.

Checked cricket scores.

Arranged to meet, next week, co-ingénues, not quite the right word, in the organising of the Free Verse book fair; and ditto in the organising of the pop-up shop, July; and a man, once local (that’s him in the cafe on page 107 of Days and Nights), now living in Norway, who has an agent for his novel; and a woman who has a long poem I like and who has been told by her agent that it can’t possibly be published by August, which is when it’s being put on as an opera.

Various days, queued in the post office. Wrote a long letter, by hand, with fountain pen, and posted this.

Said yes to freelance typesetting job.

Said no to several please-publish-me submissions. Started reading excellent manuscript novel, sent indirectly, which almost certainly I won’t publish but will read to the end. Also read: Nick Cave, The Death of Bunny Munro; Peter Stamm, Seven Years; Agota Kristof, The Notebook (for the third time).

Designed cover for a book I may well not publish (depends on how much they ask for the UK rights) but truly deeply madly want to.

Checked cricket scores. Had a haircut. Wrote zilch.

Paid £19.50 for two glasses of wine and a bowl of nuts. Lost crown on tooth from one of those nuts. Thought, for the umpteenth time, about the ridiculously privileged position I seem to have accidentally engineered myself into, and how to get out of this and what I might do when I do.

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