Perhaps I’ve been a bit remiss lately, since I blogged about a walk into Winchester, or that fun visit to Jane Austen’s house, where the care taker had read my novels. Remiss in not writing more about my wildest adventures living in ravishing Hampshire, while trying to crowd fund a story too at Indiegogo, Dragon In The Post. Which have included some highly colourful and vaguely drunken beer festivals, although I of course abstain, a caste of sometimes enchanting or very eccentric characters, the most astonishing electric storm I’ve seen in years, with lighting rippling through the leaden Hampshire skies like veins in a Norse God’s angry biceps, or a brief taste of the ancient Winchester Hat festival, haunt of largely disenfranchised artists and musicians.
Picaresque joys that henceforth will be retitled “My Hampshire Chronicles“. Not least because of a little spat today with the esteemed members of the Fourth Estate, journalists on that very local paper, that reached up to the editor himself! The reason for my own chagrin, or sheer disappointment and frustration, was that after having been interviewed and photographed for The Hampshire Chronicle near three weeks back and hoping a piece might give us a shot at some real hearing, a hope shared by backers too, I was ticked off for my impertinence in even ringing to enquire, and on a hectic news day too, if the article might come out tomorrow. Only to be told again that it wasn’t and that ‘I was doing my cause no good’. What cause, I cry, if fairly mainstream media does not even listen, which is the very paradox or point of the project too? A not-so-impertinent call then, made with some reason, I still insist, since a piece had been written, time spent, hopes raised and if I hadn’t extended a deadline recently the whole thing would have come to an end this Saturday anyway, un-regarded, at least in literate Hampshire circles. I had also appealed just rather honestly, I hope, to fellow wordsmith’s obvious love of reading and writing, yet underlining that, like journalists, crowd funding authors have deadlines as well. Perhaps they did not know, though I certainly told them. Then I transgressed most mightily though when I followed my putting-of-the-phone-down with cross emailed thoughts on the grave matter, which produced a very curt editorial response from the man at the top – Leave our journalists alone!
Evidently the real transgression though was to suggest, from clearly worthless common report, I add, that this attempt to break back through into wider publishing, or at least say something frank about the difficulties for modern writers of platforms and publishing, agents and things, these mass-phenomena days, or to share news of a skilful novel itself, might actually be as interesting to real readers on some human level as other articles in the paper that were perhaps a little ‘humdrum‘. A swift dismissal at my rabid persecution of his poor journalists, nonetheless, effectively telling me to take a hike worthy of walking The South Downs Way, and then “Furthermore, I take issue with your claim of the ‘humdrum fair’ published in the Hampshire Chronicle. It’s puzzling, then, that the paper has twice been short listed for weekly newspaper of the year in the past eight months!” He should read Dr Johnson’s letter to the Earl of Chesterfield! I’m afraid I have not done due journalistic diligence, being only an ordinary member of the reading and writing public, in inquiring if the worthy organ had actually won – once or twice.
Fair play though, forget the weary exposure of this long-fighting author, wrestling with something so difficult and sometimes demoralising too as trying to speak through Social Media, indeed something often so highly anti-social as Facebook, in my opinion. Which in such hugely wealthy country circles as Hampshire seems immediately associated with a kind of begging too, as my local publican remarked, or only worthy of pennies tossed into a hat, fair or foul, down Winchester High Street. (Not a monstrous £25 for a real, signed, First edition, or other ‘perk’ levels too.) My efforts to explain that writing a novel is not the same as busking, romantic as it is, largely fell on puzzled, cloth cap ears, down the pub. But then remember the enormous strain on belaboured working journalists too, as the chimes of ancient Winchester Cathedral ring out their nightly Angelus, hurrying us all towards every future’s inevitable deadline. Faintly heard echoes down there in the hectic Hampshire news rooms, thrumming to the constant tap of ticker-tape and coping with the daily hurricane of emotional threats and demands in trying to solve the Gaza Crisis, exposing nests of nasty foreign terrorists, challenging the appalling Capital gaps at Davos, which crowd funding might one day help to remodel a little, or dealing with the ever running issue of the local art bypass. What place indeed for a little fairy tale about a Dragon delivered to a boy in an eggbox, to take you to a better world?!
I think all I have ever asked is a fair crack of the whip though and did from The Chronicle too, but never annoy a journalist or editor, they’re especially unforgiving, or un-impartial, nor try to do something a little differently. Then I’ve just changed my mind on everything, even aspiring Dragon Warriors – be a lover not a fighter! My final, endlessly witty reposte to this tearing off a Gaza strip though was that “perhaps you would like to publish a letter of complaint to the editor!” Complaining no more works though than gloom, or insisting anyone should ever do anything in life, so smile, laugh, take what media pennies you may with a hum of musical gratitude and march on. As I must start training again for that 100 miles walk to an August finishing line (I hope no dead line), and these pages will just return more humbly, Sir, to enjoying writing itself. If even writing about being largely ignored, or unread, in sunny Hampshire! Ah me. No wonder several promises made have not been stuck to, like posters promised up in Waterstones, or certain meetings unreliably unmet. Then clearly“In Hertford, Hereford or Hampshire Crowd Funding is hardly ever heard of, or happens.” Apologies though to disappointed backers for letting the good song down.
David Clement-Davies – August 2014
You can still help find a constituency and crowd fund a story, that you can read part of on Wattpad and hear on audio too, perhaps support an organic little publisher as well, Phoenix Ark Press, by clicking here AND BACKING DRAGON IN THE POST. The project closes on August 27th. Many thanks. The photo is a still from the animation up at Indiegogo showing an as yet unopened egg box!