Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Excuses, excuses, excuses!

I know, I know – don’t you just hate it when someone starts a blog and then doesn’t bother to carry it on! However, it’s not so bad as I don’t seem to have any followers yet, so I guess this apology is going out only to me. Sorry Simon.

There is a good reason for not blogging though, and can be summed up in one word; editors. Yep, the book I wrote and submitted to the publishers was accepted and handed onto the editors. Now, okay so this was my first book, and as such wasn’t so much a learning curve as a learning vertical line. I had no idea editors had so much power. We hear of writers telling stories about the time they went ballistic at an editor for changing an important aspect of their text (if you haven’t already seen it, read Giles Coren’s rant to his sub-editor at the Times, written late at night when he was drunk If you’re a writer, you’re unlikely not to have seen it, but if you haven’t, I envy you – it’s a classic). But for those of us on the bottom rung of the writing ladder, those of us who spend every waking hour and quite a few of the sleeping ones dreaming about a life at the keyboard, then a rant is totally out of the question until you’re successfully published (or should that be published and successful?). Isn’t it?

Well no, actually. If you think Giles Coren chucked everything out of his pram and then turned the buggy upside down, I just luzzed a few rattles over the side. It was all very stupid and concerned the fact that the editor was taking every single idea and thought I had about food out of the text and making it into a standalone recipe. I moaned that she was turning me into Delia, which, considering how rich and successful Delia is, only a dimwit would complain at. But I’m a man so I can do dimwittedness – I can do it quite well. And in this instance, I excelled.

There is a reason for recounting this story, a point to it, and that is to show how passionate you get when you begin to live your dream. All those early-day thoughts of getting to the stage where you have a manuscript accepted by a publisher (and only then once you have it accepted by an agent – an even harder task) that will be enough, goes straight out of the window. It’s not. It doesn’t matter what your dream is, whether you want to become a writer, as I did, or a fireman, once you start to live the life everything changes. You become besotted by getting it right, probably because it’s so easy to get it wrong, and if you get it wrong, puff, dream over. It’s scary.

At its height, I would receive five or six email pages of queries through from the editors a day, mainly asking me to justify facts and figures I put down, and clarifying important points. Every email had to be returned the same day. It was a full time job keeping up.

But now it’s done. Editing finished. I can go to pubs, restaurants and converse with friends again. I can, in short, become human. And I can blog. So, after a bit of a hiatus, here we go again. My name is Simon Dawson, this is my life, and this is my blog…

Monday, 20 July 2009

This is my life - well, a little bit of it anyway

I was standing at my regular Saturday farmers' market stall when a woman (early fifties, lots of make-up, prada handbag and visually depressed, short, balding husband two steps behind), made a beeline for my stall.
'I want to complain,' she said, in a loud shrill voice. 'I bought sausage meat from you last week. Only it wasn't. It wasn't sausage meat at all, and the Scotch eggs I was going to make were ruined.'
I stammered that I was so sorry. She waved an irritated hand.
I hardly dare ask, but the question had to be put. 'What was wrong with the sausage meat?' I said as quietly as I could.
'It tasted like pork!'
I gave her money back, but I couldn't bring myself to apologise (after all, isn't that what real pork sausages are supposed to taste of?).
Every Friday the prep for the market begins ridiculously early at five in the morning, by butchering an entire pig down into the primal cuts, and goes right the way through the day making sausages, faggots, brawn, bacon and ham, etc, to about two the following morning. Three or four hours sleep, up, stumble about, drown myself in as much strong coffee as my asbestos mouth can take whilst getting ready, finish off any last minute prep, load the land rover, discover that I'm late (always) and drive like a lunatic to set-up before eight. So when she moaned that I had the bare-faced audacity to sell her pork sausage meat that actually tasted of pork, I was too tired to argue.
But she was an exception. Most people like the idea that Debbie and I home-make all our own produce, and most of them even like the old-fashioned flavours. But even amongst our regulars, few of them know how self sufficient we have really become.
I like the idea that Debbie and I are doing more and more for ourselves. I like that feeling of self reliance - though I do understand there is a balance, and I certainly don't want to become a Billy-no-mates, shun the outside world and live in a cave. I want to be greedy with self sufficiency. I want everything, the complete package. I want to be self sufficient and have a proper life.
So this is my blog, about modern self sufficiency, about natural healthy food and drink, animals, relationships, and anything else I discover along the way.