Thursday, January 24, 2008

Who Sits and Watches Trains?

My latest column is out. Actually, it's been out since Tuesday, but I wanted to give more time on top to the story of my being attacked by a crazy woman.

That's life, innit? You start to think things are getting too dull, and then someone comes at you with an axe and Samurai sword.

I've only just noticed that the link I put in the column isn't working properly, so here's the link again. I'm not sure it's worth it for me to ask someone to fix in the story -- I get the feeling sometimes there aren't a whole lot of people reading that column. Not a whole lot beyond those of you who already read this blog, at least.

To that extent, I've been carrying on an internal debate about whether I want to put the fiddle on the roof in terms of my column. "Rhoi'r ffidl yn y to" is a Welsh metaphor that means you've decided to call it quits on something. The fact that it's "yn y to" instead of "ar y to" suggests the fiddle being placed in the attic, but I have always preferred to translate it as putting the fiddle on the roof:

"Right. We've had just about enough of that singin' an' dancin' now. This fiddle's goin' on the roof, it is. With the donkey" (a).

However it's said, I've been questioning whether I want to carry on writing a column for the fine folks at Internet Broadcasting. My dilemma is totally within myself. IB has been very kind in giving me a huge platform, and I have no real complaints apart from the occasional harrumph when I'm told to remove references to sex.

That big platform is my primary reason for wanting to stay on. Well, that and the fact that I do enjoy writing the column.

I also enjoy writing my blog, though (b). Seemingly anything I wanted to say in a column can be said here and I can use as much mature language as I deem fit. But, a blog doesn't carry the same feeling of legitimacy. The column is part of what helped me to get noticed when I was trying to find an agent for my novel. And once I'm done with this little university adventure and again trying to write seriously, it could be an asset.

But the column doesn't pay and it diverges somewhat from what I'm focused on at the moment. The Welsh-language column I write each month for Barn delivers a bit of cash (only enough for a night in the pub, but some is more than none). I am hoping this summer to write a book in the Welsh language, and I also have a few ideas for Welsh-language novels. At the moment, my focus is on a path where an English-language internet column targeted to a U.S. audience doesn't really add much to my CV.

With the exception of this week's column (my favourite line: "If I were a trainspotter, I would put whisky in my tea and draw pictures of breasts in my notebook"), I haven't really been happy with the stuff I've been producing lately for IB. I don't want to turn in crap. I know that everyone in a media company sees him- or herself as a writer, so I don't want to be occupying a spot that someone else might be eager to fill if I don't feel I'm producing something entertaining.

But if I let go of the column, I will never get it back. Opportunities to write on 70-site networks aren't the sort of things that come along every day. IB hits some 16 million people a month. More than five times the population of Wales, every month. Fair enough, 15,999,920 of them aren't reading my column, but it's not the sort of thing you just throw away, is it?

I am plagued by indecision. If you've got any advice, I'd like to hear it.

(a) There is a Welsh children's song about a hat-wearing donkey with two wooden legs who sits on a roof.

(b) Sometimes. From about July to December I was considering deleting all my blogs.


Nwdls said...

Alas, the said donkey is not a Jakckass but a Jack-daw. still doesn't explain whe he's sporting a hat and two wooden legs, but might explain whe he's atop the roof...

I won't even go into the song about 10 sparrows going to the cinema. That's a whole new world of weirdness.

Chris Cope said...

What? It's a song about a bird? That's not as good. Once again, I think I'll stick with my translation.

Anonymous said...

I like your column and agree that it's an excellent platform for your writing. On the other hand I think it's COMPLETELY OUTRAGEOUS that they don't pay you.

I say: keep doing it but ask them for some cash. 'Yo, I'm afraid I can't afford to work on a voluntary basis any more. Is there any way you'd consider putting me on your freelance budget?'

Obviously you should totally take the career advice of someone who built her own journalistic career on nepotism and editor-shagging.

mo** said...

If the only reason you're considering leaving IB is out of consideration for your readers...then don't quit, if what you write is crap, and if there are tons of people who would like to take your spot, then I am sure they would get rid of you...
considering that they haven't, it seems pretty obvious that they like what you write and they surely have trackers to see if your columns generate readership interest...if really no one was reading it, then they would have also let you know.

If you want to quit because you are fed up of it and feel that creatively you are at a standstill, that is a completely different scenario.
In that case, considering all the pro's ie it helped you get an editor, then don't quit, why close this door? it's not like you have to write everyday...
in the end, my position is an easy one to take,for you on the other hand, I can imagine that it isn't that simple.. if you have seriously considered it and feel like it's he best thing to do for you, then just quit point in having too much excess baggage, especially if it is slowing you down.
(yeah look at that imagery!! did you roll your eyes or did you tell yourself, no quite the contrary,this girl could one day become a writer...mmmmmm..yeah don't answer that :)

Huw said...

If you want to know how many people are reading - or raise your profile - write something that really gets American's backs up. You'll know better than me what that is. Extra taxation to pay for free healthcare is the sort of thing I imagine.

Unknown said...

Go ahead and dis America you pond jumper. But be careful cause these colors don't run. Except when I painted that watercolor of an American flag and left it outside and someone turned on the sprinkler on. Then they ran bad. I later sold that painting for 1800 dollars.
Honestly, your column isn't my favorite thing you write but there are moments of brilliance occasionally so I say, stick with it.

Carwyn Edwards said...

If you want to be a writter! Dam make sure you get paid for your work! Tell them no more or pay up!!!

Also agree with your comments that facebook is killing blogs!!!!Communication through the internet is constantly evolving!!!


Jim Downey said...

Don't look back.

I gave up my arts column (for a decent local rag, but they paid me enough to keep me in cheap scotch) right at a year ago, and it has freed up my time for blogging - much better for me overall, and my writing has decidedly improved thanks to it. Though I now have to pay for my own scotch, of course...

Jim D.

Thomas said...

Hey, long time no see, Chris.

heatherfeather said...

I don't wish I were a goat, but I wouldn't mind HAVING a goat for homemade cheese and cashmere...

Alas, I am but a strange hippie freak.

There was a story I read a few months ago about photographers going to DC-area train stations and taking pictures and not being allowed to if they looked "suspicious," even when it's legal to take pictures at said stations.

However if they looked un-suspicious, there was no problem.

Just because I'm a dork, here's a Flickr group based on this, evne though it was not the point of your column...

Rob said...

FWIW, i liked your latest column more than usual.