Saturday, 20 January 2007

What Howard Said

The smartest thing I've seen anyone write about Celebrity Big Brother so far:

Howard Jacobson: 'Big Brother' encourages us to embrace a condition far more worrying than racism

If society doesn't value knowledge and wisdom then this is what you get. People with attitudes like Jade Goody, Danielle Lloyd, Jo O'Meara and Jack Tweedy have always existed, but they didn't get airtime in the days where only the talented, educated and connected had access to the media.

Big Brother claims very strongly to be about democracy. And in a modern democracy - as opposed to an ancient Greek one - maybe there is a requirement to give the uneducated and untalented a chance to reach a platform they couldn't have aspired to years ago.

Is meritocracy morally defensible? It might be more desirable in utilitarian terms, but is it moral to lock out the uneducated and untalented from the glittering prizes offered by modern celebrity?

(I don't know the answer - but if any moral philosophers are reading, please feel free to clue me in.)

Very few people can survive the scrutiny of Big Brother and emerge with no stain on their characters. As Germaine Greer learnt when she went into the Big House, the very situation is designed to create moments of human tension and drama. The BB producers rapidly came to understand the buttons they need to press to provoke the required responses. It is designed to bring out the very worst in people, and therefore also (rather less frequently), the very best.

Losing the thread

I thought I'd take this week off from writing Josh 2. The plan was to read some good books for inspiration and distraction. But instead I got sucked into becoming a Celebrity Big Brother fiend. The worst case of BB addiction I've ever had...I watched Big Brother, Big Brother's Little Brother, Big Brother's Big Brain, Big Brother's Big Mouth, and the live feed for hours at a time, lurked on the Digitalspy boards. Yes, I'm a basket case.

(It's drama, Jim, but not as we know it.)

Anyway, the distance has already helped me to start editing some earlier sections. But as for getting back into the writing...yikes! I was right in the zone, really trying to empathise with Josh as he embarks on a particularly climactic stage of the journey. Now I've lost the thread, all I can think about is the 4-career car crash that is Celebrity Big Brother 2007.

I should give it up. Can't go cold turkey though. I'll go back to the highlights show only.

Meanwhile some of us at Writewords are talking about the experience of writing a sequel to one's first published novel. Seems that everyone's feeling the pressure, as welcome as it is. Think I'm the only one to admit to dropping the pen to watch a reality TV show.

Friday, 19 January 2007

Celebrity Big Brother - the denouement

Amazing, riveting drama. Unfolding like a Greek tragedy. Ah, only now do they see the error of their ways, Jade and Danielle. The remorse, the enlightenment. Danielle confessing in bedroom whispers to Shilpa that she's been led astray by Jade because she (Danielle) is young, naive and intimidated by Jade's personality. Jade performing what looks like a scripted apology to Shilpa as a bemused Jack looks on and says 'I'm disappointed in Jade. I wouldn't make up with someone if they'd said that to me...'

Maybe the Big Brother producers have coached their performers, Jade, Danielle, maybe even Shilpa. Either way it makes for spellbinding drama, which for being real has a quality that you simply can't get with acting.

Jade has begun to realise that her entire career is at stake because she will have been portrayed as a 'racist b***h' (her words). The other housemates are in shock as they realise they're witnessing one or more of their numbers torpedo their careers. Shilpa is too nice and forgiving to be capable of schadenfreude, instead expressing fears over the consequences for Jade.

Jo (ex of S Club 7) murmurs 'Why's it so quiet?' after Davina makes her weekly call to the housemates in stony silence, amid none of the customary ballyhoo.

Jade's damp eyes and rueful smile as she nods and says 'I know why.'

It's only a game show, eh?

Thursday, 4 January 2007

Hey Danny, where are you?

Last summer whilst playing with my five-year-old daughter in the local playground I came across a family of children playing with their grandparents, with whom they were visiting.

One of these children, aged 10, was named Danny. Whilst playing on the roundabout we discussed Man United's upcoming game, his school's extra-curricular lessons in detective skills, and eventually he asked me what I did for a living.

I told him I wrote children's books, but that none of them had been published yet. He seemed very interested, asked to know more. I told him about 'The Joshua Files'. He was even more interested, even excited. "When can I read it?" he asked. Then I had to explain a bit of the publication process and the painful fact that he might never read it because it might never be published.

Agent had had the script for 3 months and I'd heard nairy a peep...

As we departed, I told Danny that he could find news of my book on the little Website I was knocking together for the book.

Danny - if you ever read this - guess what, "The Joshua Files" is going to be published. I'm sorry but you'll have to wait until you're at least 12 to read it!

Would you like a free signed copy of the book when it arrives in spring 2008? If you write to my agent, tell him what town you come from and which football team you support, then we'll know it's really you. I'll see that you receive a copy asap.

Book 2 begins

Since the beginning of December I've written the first 30,000 words of The Joshua Files - Book 2. I had considered the title 'The Lotus Sect' but my agent didn't like it. I went back to the drawing board, came up with something that's hopefully a bit more intriguing.

(An' NURR, am not tellin' you wot it is so SHU' URP!)

Loving this writing. Book 1 is getting a good, thorough editing by my editor as I write Book 2. I've agreed to make one significant change to the character in the original ms - bringing Josh's age down from 15 to 13. Trying this out in Book 2 was key to getting it right in the revised Book 1.

The Editor was right, the difference is subtle, yet will hopefully make the ms more accessible to a slightly younger readership.

NB I will name The Editor when The Publisher emerges from behind the screen.