When you look at things this way, I guess everybody comes to the same point somehow. I mean, Ellie could have stayed and I could have left. That’s true isn’t it? You know when people say, Eventually, like that, they kind of mean they knew it was coming, don’t they? I didn’t know it was coming. I mean, I knew something was coming in the sense that things happen. Everything happens, I guess. Nothing happens for a reason though. I believe that. Truly. I mean, when we were on holiday in Barcelona I didn’t really know we were going to kiss the way we did in the old Olympic Park with that heavy concrete hanging in the air and those giant silos, so weird, and the Telfónica mast, reaching up like some space machine into that amber sky. It was so warm. Everything was emptying out and it was like 1936 or something wasn’t it, not when we were there, but when it was used, and we talked about the lost gift of the wars. No one was around. And I didn’t know that we would do the whole stop over thing in Zürich, either. Just like that, getting off the crazy train into the wet crowds smelling of damp wool and expensive cologne. She took those photos then. And then we ate that amazing cheese thing in some restaurant where neither of us could speak but she was so beautiful and I thought I could die because she was so beautiful. What do they call that food? You know, the one you put the potatoes in, spearing them and dipping them and scooping it all out. And we had lukewarm meats that tasted so rich with the wine. That was good. That was so good. I remember that the streets were cold and we hadn’t packed the right clothes at all, and the lights were glinting in the waters as we walked about with our feet frozen and our hair damp. We were so cold we went shopping and couldn’t afford anything. Anything at all. Not even the coffee. How do people get that rich? Even then, was she thinking she was going to leave? Maybe it was then. There was a lot of travelling that year. Or maybe it was the miscarriage. That takes its toll. I hope you never have to go through that. All I can remember is staring into this sink, a stainless steel sink, in a yellow corridor filled with the smell of babies, and such heat. Such intense, you know, womb-like heat. And that sink. Just that sink, the grey scratched steel. Its lack of any kind of lustre. I thought my whole life had emptied into that sink. I couldn’t even see my reflection in it. Just the black teeth of the plug hole and the suds emptying down, into a kind of, a kind of mouth. And that was the whole point of it. You know? The point of everything, really. Maybe it was then. Maybe that was it. A steel mouth kind of ending.
BAD NOTES FROM A PUBLISHING CONFERENCEfrom your local correspondent
I'll share some of the weirder peculiarities of the publishing presentations at this year’s conference. In no particular order:
It's all about Readers and giving Readers what they want in ways no one will be able to see, ever, because what they want is actually embarrassing and possibly even seedy. It should be easy to be seedy. It's so much about Readers that writers don't really count. Writers get in the way of Readers because Readers want there to be a choice of eight [seedier] endings which their reading preferences can select from. More on Preferences later, i.e. Hell can wait.
What the world wants is more Diversity, which isn't translating things into English, but translating Out Of English (OOE) into languages that might be dying out, fast. But English is so last year. Check out the dying languages and publish stuff in those Urgently. Everyone loves the Diversity thing, but no one really fesses up much on the Demand side. [P.S. ignore that the whole world is doing everything in English, wants to speak, live, earn, read, die in English.]
The growth in global literacy means that English and Europe are much less important and not a Place Of Growth like, say, Brazil. But the bits that are important are only important for like over 50s white women, who, like, buy everything anyway as long as it is primarily paranormal romance. Shhh.
If you purchase three things online, you will be offered those three things forever in different disguises with no covers. There's no escape. This is called Your Preferences, otherwise known as Hell On Earth. Online Booksellers say things like: We've Got Your Number. And they mean it. Mine's 666, by the way.
People who buy serious books don't get past page eight and tend to get distracted by Faceache, Twitster, e-male & co. I think that's right. Oh, and they're just pretending to be clever. If you're male and young, you're a loser where books are concerned, whatever.
If you are young, basically you don't read or buy stuff like old people do. But you do it really immersively and tend to buy books massively in bookshops and love recommendations from your mates. And don't do digital, at least not when you spend all that time not reading, er, immersively. I think. But seriously 18-24 is like the Dead Zone. Plus, you don't get 4×4s done to you, more on this next.
Publishers are doing stuff with Big Data that means you are going to get lots of 4×4s done to you. [Christ, what on earth is a 4×4! Is this a secret plan to force us into Chelsea Cruisers?] Business Publishers seem to make trillions out of dumbass middle managers spending time on rebranding PowerPoint stacks for their next talk on Quantifiable Earning Resource Dislocators (i.e. books). P.S. this is downloadable with your first £10,000 subscription to Speak Idiot Easily Now.
Business Publishing is where all parts of your soul are replaced by a single robotic acronym producer that chops up language into a database and spews it out in 2 minute 20 second bursts of ... well, of something we all feel is, er, business speakyfied, because that is the source of all Corporate Anxiety. They don't get seedy romance here.
The future of publishing finance is getting Pledgers to over purchase The Book up front largely by selling tickets to events that don't happen or gentrified supplementary placebos which disguise everything with migraines or wrap something in leather and pressed flowers thus turning every publisher into a Multi-Millionaire through idiots who are susceptible to charitable guff (i.e. family and friends). [Small print says: Book Gets Distributed, Too, but this Does Not Matter as we have Made All The Money from the author's backers. Ha ha ha.]
Half your life should be spent on headlines. The headline thing is a metaphor for like, EVERYTHING. You do this Last, once The Thing is written. The Thing ought to bloody well spell out Why anyone would want The Thing in one single compelling sugar cube [Sugar Cube? Have I got that right?] so the Idiots Get It. This is the nature of all good selling.
Plus Good Selling has to include Bulking Mock-Ups so The Booksellers can see how thick books are. This along with a colour catalogue of EVERYTHING EVER ON EARTH, will make shops stock your books in vast quantities that will be returned next Tuesday in your local supermarket because The Writer Isn't Wanted.
And that, Ladies and Gentlemen, is just the beginning.
Note: Some items may misrepresent the true nature of expertise and/or investment opportunities. AND, we all got pissed, laughing at Andy Hamilton