It’s something I think I have a talent for (not, of course, that I ever put a lot of effort into writing these posts) but not something I can ever see myself doing for a living. I’ve suffered a lot of frustration in this field which I could frankly be doing without.
For instance, the newspaper scene. Papers typically have a policy of ‘to write for us, you must have already written for somebody else’…and considering this applies across the board to next to all of them it’s almost impossible to break into the industry. Those papers and magazines which do accept submissions from people who’ve never written professionally before are usually so insignificant they’re not even worth putting on your resume, anyway.
Another thing I’ve encountered is enthusiasm…followed by rejection, since they already have someone working in that area. A British newspaper sent me very enthusiastic emails last October, told me they loved my writing style but couldn’t give me work because they already had someone in Tbilisi working for them. I was hoping they’d review the pieces from both myself and this mystery man and just see whose work they’d like to use best, but that wasn’t the case. They did tell me, however, they would keep me in mind, and got in touch a month later to ask if I knew anything about Tony Blair’s activities in Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan. As it happens, I did, and sent them my information and the premise of an article I could write for them in the tone they required. I received absolutely nothing in reply, which I thought damned odd since they were the ones who’d contacted me in the first place.
Then there’s the Moscow Times. I was originally surprised when I read on their website that they wanted people to blog for them, but no details were given about exactly what it was they wanted applicants to write about; the only thing it said was to get in touch with their editor, Andrew McChesney. I wrote to him, saying I keep a blog of my own and I can write extensively about Georgian politics and received an enthusiastic reply. I promptly sent off two samples from this blog, but then he sent me a really strange email. He said he’d liked the pieces, but getting information from me was like ‘pulling teeth’…couldn’t quite see that myself, since I’d sent him two fucking articles and his website told me sweet fuck all about what it was they wanted from their bloggers, and quite what else he expected within two emails of correspondence is anyone’s guess. And no, I hadn’t sent my resume off, simply because there really isn’t much on there which is relevant to writing. Besides, he looks like a weasel. Ginger hair and no chin. Always bad signs.
But to be a writer in Georgia, you have to be American. That seems to be the way of it, since almost every contributor in the pro-Saakashvili English language newspapers is a Yank, and glorifies the United States and its influence on this country. Take, for instance, Mark Mullen, a blogger who writes for the Georgian Journal. His posts are a real mixed bag; his political insight can be quite interesting and perceptive, but frankly some of his other posts are just so much rubbish. I remember one entitled ‘Dog Poop’. Ah, Mark, how intellectual. A post about the cleanliness of our streets. Could you not have picked something more suitable? Then there was one about the Georgian Army and conscription, both of which Mr. Mullen believes need to focus on ‘team-building exercises’. I see his point, that conscription needs to be something worthwhile for people who don’t want to do it, but since Georgian military reform is so urgently needed, I’d much rather he wrote about that fact and persuaded the reader the Georgian Army needs to focus on actually winning battles. Then there’s my old friend Neal, and to be fair he deserves his place at writing for Investor.ge, since he is a talented writer…but not (I’m sure you’ll agree, Neal) significantly more talented than myself when I put my mind to it, and while our opinions may be different, mine is no less well informed.
Then, of course, there’s the world of novels and self-publishing. Mine sold well initially, but after about a month the people who wanted to buy it had bought it, and then it fell to the back of the shelf, so to speak, since it wasn’t new any longer. I can’t gripe about that much, it made me a tidy packet at the time, but what does piss me off is that I like to think I had a (relatively) original idea; the danger with military action thrillers is that they all end up being the same thing, and I was very conscious of trying not to fall into the trap while fitting my work inside the genre. However, at the same time as my book was on sale, another bloke had written a generic SAS thriller which outsold my own work significantly. I read the book myself; the writing was nothing to boast about, and the plot was exactly the same thing that Chris Ryan and Andy McNab have done a thousand times before. But I suppose it’s like Fifty Shades of Grey. Why bother trying to write intelligently and with originality when you can just feed stupid people what they want?
I can’t help but sound a little arrogant as I write all this, but it makes my blood boil to read things in newspapers and books when I just know I could do it better. There’s a student from my old university who is writing for the Guardian now – God alone knows how, since he can’t write worth a damn, but I think it’s something to do with the fact that he was always very interested in student politics and is filled with a fine sense of his own importance. Frankly I couldn’t care less who was student President or whatever the hell else they were, I was far more interested in politics in the real world, but it seems that’s what you have to do to get somewhere with these fucking things.
So there you are. Rant over. It doesn’t really matter at the end of the day since I highly doubt I’ll ever work within journalism, but it still pisses me off. No matter nevermind, after a beer and a wank I’ll feel much better.