Gilt Trip (Days 6-8)

As foreseen, Day 6 was a reading day since I was on the move, heading over to Derry (currently the UK’s first City of Culture so at least some degree of appropriateness for a budding author) to speak at CultureTech. Focused on the Advertising chapter, reading through a couple of Paul Arden’s short books to get a feel for the man from that perspective. I ploughed through a creativity title, It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be (2003), intriguingly billed by Art publisher Phaidon as “The World’s Best-selling Book”. Always thought that was a close race between the equally preposterous The Bible and The Da Vinci Code. On the subject of which, I then had a go at 2007’s God Explained in a Taxi Ride.

an grianan ailigh

The next day was my birthday. My first 0 writing work day since beginning. Starting out from the much-loved Beech Hill, I did a speaking gig at The Playhouse theatre in Derry with Mina Dimintrova, Content Partnerships Manager from YouTube and a couple of smart Israelis in the soft- and hard-ware businesses (one who’s just sold his company to Samsung for plenty of millions of dollars). After that I walked round the city walls to the Verbal Arts Centre for lunch, signing Seamus Heaney’s condolences book while there. I popped into the Guildhall during the afternoon with my other half to look at the room where we were married – it has now been transformed from the council chamber as it was back then to an exhibition about the Plantation of Ulster. It is one of the best museum displays I’ve seen in a very long time, presenting a complex story through interactivity which was unforced and illuminating. From there  we walked over to the old shirt factory where we met the artist Rita Duffy, a collaborator of Heaney’s associate Paul Muldoon. Rita showed us around the shirt-themed exhibition and initiative she’s set up in the old factory with the help of producer Margot Harkin, producer of Hush a Bye Baby, an early Channel 4-backed film through the Derry Film Co-op.

The highlight of my non-work day and big birthday came next. We cabbed it out of the city to the ancient fort high on a hill to the West of Derry, just into Donegal. Grianan Ailigh is my favourite place in the world. It’s no accident I found myself up there at dusk on this special day (birthday also of John Martyn, Mick Talbot, Herbert Lom and DH Lawrence) with no strangers around – just with two old friends and my wife up on the walls drinking probably the first ever Kir Royales downed on the ancient circle of stone.

Day 7 was still away from base, over in Derry. I went to lunch at multi-award-winning head chef Ian Orr’s well regarded Browns restaurant on the Waterside.  After a fabulous lunch he kindly came out to discuss candidates for open and generous chefs. I’ve had various in mind so wanted to test them against Ian’s broad experience. The rest of the day was more reading and research – Gertrude Stein & Alice Toklas and lastly the evolutionary role of altruism.

The week rounded off with a trip to Amsterdam to do a pair of speaking gigs at the IBC conference – the first with multiplatform colleagues from CBC in Canada and SRF in Switzerland (Hansruedi Schoch, Director of Programmes) ; the second a jolly affair with Seb Royce, Diane Glynn and Toby L during which we reinvented the likes of Top of the Pops, Thriller and Cheers for the 21st century of interactivity and brands. Before leaving for City Airport I managed to get the next layer of raw material into the Ginsberg chapter ready for integration into the text. I am daunted to some degree by the act of marshalling so many strands of thought and have a sense it will get messy and out of control before it comes back together.  I’ll start Week 3 with another big writing push to conquer my anxiousness by absorbing more material. The rest of Day 8 was devoted to the strange pair that were Stein & Toklas, getting a good grounding in their dynamics of creative co-dependency but not about Stein’s relationship with Picasso and that circle of visual artists, the core of this story if there is one to be extracted.

Bottom line, I need to be patient with myself, no guilt, just plough on consistently with writing and research, and follow my old friend Carol Muskoron’s adage:

Don’t Get It Right, Get It Written.


Here’s the words of wisdom WordPress threw up on posting this piece:

I do not like to write – I like to have written.

Gloria Steinem

6 comments so far

  1. marilyn podro on

    Great to read what you have achieved but sorry you missed yom kippur which is not like you. It is a day we should all remember the 6million Jewa who perished. I am sure you gave them a thought. Preparing cheesecake for your imminent anniversary…

  2. theluckhabit on

    The ‘Don’t get it right, get it written’ seems to have originated with James Thurber – it’s such a great peice of advice. The Paul Arden is actually ‘The world’s best-selling book by Paul Arden’. No arguing with that! Particularly as it was his first.

  3. theluckhabit on


  4. ArkAngel on


    (you got it written, not right, so relax)

  5. ArkAngel on

    TLH, you’re right about Thurber – pleased to say it’s very well covered in Quotables:

    The actual quote is: “Don’t get it right, just get it written.” I prefer Carol’s version without the ‘just’ – better music.

    The Arden cover quote is like one of those bad jokes a dad tells. That meaning crossed my mind for a moment but I dismissed it as an accidental ambiguity.

  6. ArkAngel on

    @Marilyn went past Anne Frank’s house on the eve so that was in my mind – and now this can be a full guilt trip 😉

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