How This Blog Ended Up As It Is
Books. It’s meant to be about books. Specifically my books. At least, that was the plan at the start – in 2008 my publisher wanted me to start a book blog and dedicate one side of it to direct selling.
Now, anyone who knows me knows that I’m the world’s worst networker. At a party I’ll be the one on the steps outside talking to the wait-staff. In the film industry I had set our staff an agenda from the outset; Just Be Honest. Needless to say, this quickly got us into a lot of trouble. After viewing the rough cut of ‘Victor Victoria’, virtually watching it through my fingers, Blake Edwards asked me what I thought of it. By this time I had evolved phrases that would prevent me from lying without hurting anyone’s feelings (not that directors have feelings), so I told him I thought it would polish up better and find its audience – not exactly a lie, just an omission. When I lost a summer working on the appalling ‘Santa Claus’ for Jeannot Schwartz (who told me he had made a movie that would ‘last through the ages’) I told him he had ‘made unusual choices’ and he went away happy, although by this time it was just important to me that he went away. I won’t tell you what I said to David Cronenberg after he ruined ‘Crash’.
I thought we might get a bad reputation. I don’t see the point in sucking up when it will only make your situation more and more untenable. In fact, it drew clients to us. So when it came to books I applied the same thinking, which made the plans for the blog problematic, because one publisher wanted to link it directly to their site and sell books through my Facebook page, which they would then manage. I had vulnerable family members on Facebook who would have been likely to naively respond to trolls and scammers, so after a trial period of reluctantly letting them control my personal online presence I closed it down.
Instead, with the help of my pal Simon I opened this one. And from Day One I went off-brief. The first post concerned a London art installation, and was just two lines long. The next was about Sarah Palin. I likened the site to the old children’s TV series ‘Picture Book’, in which a presenter opened a book each show and picked a random subject.Of course it’s not entirely random because there’s very little here about sports, cars, celebrities, reality TV, fashion, shopping or any of the subjects that seemingly preoccupy minds other than mine.
Clearly there’s a way of running a blog that makes money. Somewhere on here is a direct link to Amazon from which I can ‘earn referrals’. To date, since 2008, I have earned precisely Â£0.00. But if I was running it to make money it would be a business, and I’d be limited in content to upbeat earning-power articles, and that’s not what I want. I want to engage with readers and the curious-minded. And if the blog reflects the chaotic conditions of a PCU investigation, so be it.
I have a friend who runs an online magazine. He’s desperate for you to read it, and his desperation shows through in everything he does. He talks about driving up the figures while driving people away. He’s clearly passionate about it but the passion is lost behind his need to succeed. I guess the takeaway is: Do what you love. You won’t earn as much as doing what you don’t love, but you’ll be happy.