On Being a Struggling Writer, Part II
January 23, 2014 § Leave a comment
Day 3: The struggle continues. When I sit down at my desk first thing this morning, there’s an email eagerly awaiting me. “Sorry,” it says, “We had to use the picture”. I gulp, glancing around to see if anyone has seen me come in, and has erupted into uncontrollable laughter. Everyone seems in their usual state, however, numbly staring at their computer screens, waiting… watching time drip by in a deliberately slow and painful manner. It seems I’m safe, for now. “We managed to make the video ‘disappear’ though!” states the email. Perhaps there is a God after all.
By now, I have been informed that the only reason they send the work experience person out to do vox pops is because everyone else absolutely detests it. This information, predictably, makes it all the more soul-destroying.
Today is no better. It is also raining, which thankfully disguises my tears. I joke, I joke! But it is a particularly dire experience. After walking a good 5 or so miles in what is slowly but surely becoming a monsoon, I manage to stop a group of people. They say they will answer my question if I could also do them a favour, and direct them to the mortuary. Given that I have no common sense whatsoever at the best of times, this fails to click. I continue on with my spiel, informing them that I would have to take their photo for the newspaper. It is only now they tell me that they are off to visit their brother, who recently passed away. I apologise profusely, and run…
This, believe it or not, is the only part of my day worth mentioning. Apart from this, of course, which surfaced around 1pm!:
Day 4: I organise to meet every single person I know in a cafe in town so I don’t have to succumb to another treacherous day of vox pops! My ever-lasting love goes out to you all, for saving me from more impending doom.
This allows me to make it to Parliament on time, where I am to attend the First Minister’s Questions. On entering, I typically set off the security system. Despite having no drugs or live ammunition stuffed down my bra (I don’t think), the security woman quite extensively fondles both my breasts simultaneously. I refrain from making some joke about this not normally happening early on a Thursday morning. She doesn’t seem particularly drôle.
A very nice man named Ian gives me a guided tour of the Parliament. When we go in to watch the FMQs, I realise much too late that I have typically forgotten to bring my glasses. This leads to 45 minutes of watching a blur which I can only presume to be Alex Salmond shout everyone down. I question Ian as to whether or not he ever gets fed up with this life of debate. “I like cheese, you like cheese, let’s just all agree for once!” He actually laughs, which is a rare surprise this week, I tell you.
On returning to the office, I am given a third story to write, this once regarding a nice Russian man named Yuri and his love of hand-crafted tables. As it turns out, he has been commissioned by the Royal & Ancient Golf Club in St. Andrews to design and make a small oval dining table for their exclusive club. Without even thinking, I call the R&A Media Office to get a line from them. They refuse to comment. I explain that all I’m looking for is a quick quote about just how thankful they are for Yuri and his table-making expertise. I insist that my article is in no way controversial. They still refuse. I even question what the so-called ‘Media Office’ does comment on. Then I give up.
Five minutes later, Yuri phones me back in a complete panic. The R&A have called him and threatened to pull his commission if my article goes to Press! David, who sits across from me, takes the phone and attempts to convince Yuri that the article is simply a nice piece about his trade, his love of wood etc etc and that the R&A are being utterly ridiculous. Yuri fails to see reason, and I cannot have a small business lose £20,000 because of me. We pull the article. David is beside himself, saying that never in his 4 years at the Evening News has he seen anything so bloody ludicrous.
As it turns out, the R&A are one of those members only clubs that think they’re God’s gift to the universe. They are also a bunch of misogynistic pricks. It is actually possible that they refused to talk to me because I’m a woman! How incredibly backwards. Anyway, long story short, the World’s Most Controversial Table Story does not go to press, poor master craftsman Yuri does not get the recognition he so evidently deserves, and the R&A gain yet another female enemy.
Day 5: When I go to collect my Take Five question from Jim today, something rather amusing happens. Now Jim, no offence to him, is not the most attractive man in the world. He smells of stale tobacco and is, how shall I put it, rather on the large side. Quite large. Whilst I am standing by his side, his Iphone, which is lying on the desk beside him, receives a text. It is from ‘Doreen’, who exclaims: “Yes, me too. I adore your body!” Jim does not notice this, but I do! And the message remains on the Iphone screen for an uncomfortably long time until he decides on a question!
In the afternoon, I go to the High Court to await the verdict of James Dunleavy, who has been charged with murdering his mother and burying her on Corstorphine Hill. After a good hour and a half of waiting around, we finally enter the Court Room. I have never been here before, but am surprised by just how small it is. I have clearly become disillusioned by the typical American-style court rooms portrayed in the latest cinema blockbusters.
Like most people, I’m sure, I tend to detach myself from the abundance of murders and serious assaults often reported in the Press. But when James Dunleavy, head to toe in Umbro, enters the Court Room, his crime suddenly becomes incredibly real. He is found guilty of culpable homicide. No one reacts, except his father, who is noticeably shaking his head.
On returning to the office I get to write another article, this time concerning a potential festival at Linlithgow Palace. Those with more experience obviously tackle the reporting of the Dunleavy verdict. And then suddenly, just like that, it’s over! I have no idea how to say goodbye to these people that I barely know.
All it all, it has been a pretty emotional week! The majority of the time I have felt like a menopausal woman on steroids. However, I now have three articles with my byline that I can show to potential employers, if I decide I can stomach the office job situation! One thing is for certain though, I won’t be trawling the streets of Edinburgh for vox pops for a very very long time!