Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Welcome Spin-offs

Whoopee! I earned a little money from three separate sources this month - all indirectly connected with my writing.

First up was escorting 15 media personnel from Shenzhen on a tour down-river to Greenwich, taking in the Changing of the Guards. I was nominated by my ex Chinese tutor . 'I remembered you lived over there' she emailed.

I've had some modest success in exploiting my interest in Chinese having written a book about film and some articles. Revently I've written and am sending out a book based on living in China. I had a letter only this morning from a publisher to say I should submit via an agent. Grrr....

I'm sure that if it were not for the writing spin-offs I'd have given up Chinese ages ago. It's quite gruelling, so motivation needs constant boosts.
All, the same, I'd advise any writer to pick an obscure subject like Chinese film or woodrot in Byzantine tryptiches for a short route to publishing success, albeit in a rather specialist field. Fortunately, China's become fashionable so I'm hopeful of selling my book. Not sure about the Byzantine Tryptiches.

The Shenzhen people were charming and considering they'd only arrived in London the day before, full of beans. I showed them Leicester Square where they took photos of one another by Shakespeare's statue. Next to Trafalgar Square for more photos in front of lions and fountains and then we had a chilly half hour wait outside Buckingham Palace. As we watched the tops of brass helmets go by, 'I expect you've seen this hundreds of times' said the breathless interpeter. I tried to look like a royalist. I'd been more confident in Trafalgar Square burbling on about our 'great naval hero'.

After that I got a free Chinese lesson all the way to Greenwich on the boat. The guests were in their thirties, and mostly married with one child each, left in the care of grandparents. The parents, all 'rising stars' in Chinese TV media, are in London for one-month long course on UK media, with weekend cultural outings.
Shenzhen is an affluent city. One of the women received news by mobile during the boat-ride that her car, stolen just before she let China, had just been found. The others all confirmed they had cars back home. I was casting envious looks at the photographic equipment some of the men were carrying. I'm thinking of upgrading via the Tesco catalogue to improve my pixel count.

Shenzhen is the first of three cities to feature in the China Design Now exhibition at the V&A, and much the best of the three, in my opionion.

I regained my strength and warmed up over a Vietnamese lunch in Greenwich before tacking the steep hill up to the observatory. More photos, this time standing with one foot in the east and one in the west. The wind was strong on either side of the meridian and whistled through indiscriminately. Roy had met us off the boat, as he's the one with the Greenwich Guide credentials, and it was good to share the responsibility as the group scattered alarmingly in the grounds of Flamsteed House.

We went back to town on the bus as it was getting late. Leaving us at Waterloo Bridge the interpreter explained she was staying in North London and would be reporting early next day. We said goodby to our charges under festive red lanterns outside a Chinatown supermarket. I was concerned they might not find their way back to their hostel in Bloomsbury but the one who spoke the best English assured me they'd be OK and promised she'd ring me from there on their return.

We were exhausted, and blew half the profits immediately on spaghetti and a glass of wine each at Bella Pasta. I got paid £80, which after tax came to about £62. There was a message on the answerphone at home.

Another entry on my online banking page was for £65 was labelled ALCS and had me pondering until the ALCS magazine arrived next day. It means Author's Licensing and Collection Society , which monitors and collects fees for library borrowings and photocopying. My film book appears on a few 'required reading' lists so it pays out a modest annual fee.

The last, and to my mind most indirectly-connected-to-writing payment was a cheque for £5 for sending a photo of myself to The People's Friend. They have a page called something like Down Memory Lane which I'd noticed when I was browsing the short stories to see if I might write one to their specs. I've been practising like mad.

I sent three pics, thinking the best by far was a snap of my mother escorting me and my sisters along the prom at Blackpool, c. 1950. She'd bought us candyfloss, and I was down to chewing the stick. Another showed myself and my two sisters standing on cobbles outside our home. But no, they preferred the studio-posed one where I'm sitting, aged six months, alongside a stuffed dog which looks the more intelligent one of the pair. My mum is in the picture, too, but she can't be seen - she's holding me upright from behind whilst the photographer does his stuff.
The letter with the cheque tells me they'll send me a copy of the issue in which the photo appears.

So even if the The People's Friend does reject the story I sent them, I shan't mind so much. I don't see how I can feel badly about a magazine that wants my picture, and the spin-off will encourage me to try again.


Marla D said...

What a great way to see the sights of London..especially with a technically free lunch! x

Sheila Cornelius said...

Hi Marla! Yes, it was a nice change for me and I was really pleased to be asked. Being paid and having lunch for free was a real bonus.