Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Sign here. And here.

Listen, I've no clue how to start this but I'm burning to tell you so can you just grab a biscuit and we'll crack on? Last Saturday I was at the Big Finish Day in Barking and I was signing autographs.

Maybe you should get two biscuits.

Plainly, I was not alone on that day and I'm far from the first person to squiggle on papers and if you know Big Finish, you know this was Doctor Who. And you certainly know just as well as I do that Doctor Who somehow comes with a magnifying glass: I was included there because of the way the lens of Doctor Who burns into so many of us.

There were some 60 people signing and I don't know how many guests: a few hundred through the day? I'm rubbish at estimating anything. But I did have a quick gander through the guest list and without question I had done the least of them all: so far I've only had one 25-minute Doctor Who audio episode made. It turned out to be popular, but it's still only a one-off 25-minuter. I've got a four-parter coming out next year so hopefully if I get to go to the next one I'll feel less of a fraud.

But as frauds go, I am struggling to remember a day when I had more fun. It is a hell of a boost having people asking you autograph your writing, it's even more of one when they've come seeking you out. I was happy just being one more person on a table that people worked their way along. To be asked if I'm the William Gallagher they're looking for and having to answer that no, I'm not the man who wrote Lark Rise to Candleford or used to play in Oasis, is a treat.

More than that, it's a delight and I won't pretend it isn't.

But if you knew me in my podcast, you'll know what I really liked, what made this a stand-out day for me: I got to natter to people. Oodles of people. Every body up and interesting and enjoying themselves. I was going to say that equally included fans as well as other writers, but there's not a lot of difference: in breaks I'd nip into other autograph sessions and be a fan myself.

So many struggles in my head, though: from why would anyone want my autograph - I'm not kidding, I don't understand autographs at all, let alone mine - to why I might think you'd want to know about it. I don't. But I'm having such a bubbly time I had to tell you.

So. Spill. What's happening with you? I want details.


Friday, June 10, 2011

Last one down the pub buys the drinks

Wait, that doesn't work, does it? What's everybody else supposed to do while I hold them up?

I feel like I'm the last one to the party here but also a wee bit chastened: I've been so busy - heavy, dramatic sigh, bring on the gypsy violinist - that I've not caught up with Danny Stack's Liquid Lunch series. I look back at what I've been so heavily, dramatically, sighingly, violinistly busy on and can't quite see anything. And in the meantime, he's got three episodes out along with backstage videos and the scripts.

Consequently all I'm really doing here is getting in your way when you want to go watch Liquid Lunch. Tell you what, you head for the site that is Liquid Lunch and I'll get the drinks in.

What're you having?

Signing autographs on Saturday

I mean, yes, the actual news is that there's a Doctor Who event in London this weekend. And of course big news is that Big FInish is announcing the new companion for the Colin Baker Doctor Who stories.

Then the kicker, the real detail alongside the news, is that this all takes place during a gigantic sale of Big Finish audios that is going to entirely consume what they paid me to write for them.

But that's what I'm focusing on. Only with you, okay? Only because you understand. Forget news, forget Colin Baker, forget new companion, forget bargains: I am signing autographs at this event.

In theory, anyway. It rather depends on anyone wanting my autograph. So you may find I go very quiet about it on here afterwards.

If you're going anyway, if you're now tempted by the news and the bargains, it would be a treat to see you there. I'll even sign anything you like, bar cheques.

Full and proper details of everything are on the organisers' official site.


Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Writing Does Not Get Harder Than This - Live

“My name’s William Gallagher, I’m a dynamic young force in writing. Don’t tell me I can’t write something, just tell me where the paper is and watch me fly.” Gallagher flicks his hair and smiles that rogueish smile we’ve come to know from the opening title sequence. “Don’t tell me Shakespeare’s better, I don’t know from any Shakespeare. I just know he didn’t give writing 110 percent like I do, nor maths neither.

“Words are my life: I was born with a crayon that I still use for cheques. When I go to the beach I wear a diphthong, and if you can’t correctly use the word myriad in my company, stand aside for a man who can - every time.”

It’s been a tough journey for Gallagher but if he thought mastering the keyboard’s shift key would be enough to see him through, now he’s really got to face the challenge of his entire writing life.

Our top-class judges - Jeffrey Archer, Dan Brown, the Estate of Enid Blyton and Cheryl Cole - mean business. Gallagher must complete this blog: it must reach all the way to the end. The slightest hitch and he’s out of here in the car we call the dreaded write-off.

Coming up: will first-day nerves destroy his chances? And there’s a calamity over the cap of a biro. I’m Vacuous Poorly-Paid, don’t go away.

Welcome back. We’re following William Gallagher as he attempts to beat first-day nerves and hopes against hope that he can get the cap off his biro. But what colour pen will it be? Join Claudia to find out later in Writing Blog Challenge 2011: The Extra Sentence on ITV7.

But here, right here, right now, our would-be writer’s journey is just beginning.

“I know I’ve got it in me to reach the end of this blog,” says Gallagher. “I’ve beaten scores of people to get even this far. Emily Dickinson, for instance, I really rated her chances, I thought she was the one to beat, but she fell at the first hurdle because she couldn’t even write the correct website address of the blog. Kept saying it couldn’t be three ws and nobody writes ‘forward slash’.

“Then Carrie Fisher wrote cleverly and wittily but it turns out the one thing she just can’t write is the correct account username. Aaron Sorkin, Alan Bleasdale and the men and women who wrote The Simpsons back when it was good, none of them could go that extra step and pull off entering my correct password.

“I did have a sleepless night when I learnt Paul Auster guessed that I was one of the many who always use the password ‘myriad’. But he just threw his shot away by turning in a draft blog about a character called Paul Auster guessing a password to let him write a draft blog to turn in to a writing contest. It was embarrassing. I didn’t know where to look, to be honest.

“So now it’s down to me. The blog is mine to lose but I’ve practiced, I’ve worked hard, I’m not ashamed to tell you that I’ve prayed and now I know I can achieve this. It’s inside me, it is. And I also know that the judges are 109 percent behind me.”

Archer looked up from his Blackberry. “Never heard of him,” he said. “And I’m billing you for these 12 words.”

“I’m dead anyway,” said the Estate of Enid Blyton. “What I really miss is ginger beer.”

Dan Brown said: “William is going to look at the blank screen and I just know he’ll be reminded of the Knights Templar, The Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon (Latin: Pauperes commilitones Christi Templique Solomonici), commonly known as the Knights Templar, the Order of the Temple (French: Ordre du Temple or Templiers) or simply as Templars, who were among the most famous of the Western Christian military orders.[3] The organization existed for approximately two centuries in the Middle Ages and what they didn’t know about blogging then, nobody did.”

“You’re so right, Dan,” said Cheryl Cole. “That’s like exactly what I was going to say.”

Coming up: Gallagher has to take the plunge and switch on his computer. Will the epic journey of waiting for Word to load take its toll? Will the computer even get that far without every writer’s most-feared demon, the blue screen of death?

Welcome back. The epic Word journey has begun and -

“I’m on a Mac, it started ages ago while you you were off on the commercial break,” claims Gallagher. “I’ve written half the blog already.”

Brave words from the man who only dates women with names like Polly Syllable or Paige Turner and who so far never date him back. He’s got to be hoping being crowned Yet Another Blogger will change his fortunes.

But in the meantime, behind the outward signs masking the inner hidden turmoil of the apparently calm but really invisibly visibly quaking man, things have actually got off to a very bad start.

Gallagher, taking what was surely the deepest breath of his life and giving us the most up ever of thumbs-up signs, crosses to the writing desk -

- but there's a chair already there.

“I tell you, I wasn’t expecting that, I haven't practiced for there being a chair, it just wasn’t in the plan,” he says. “There’s no indication I can see of how to use it or whether it’s even meant to be used. I have to be think that someone could be simply storing it here and there is no way to tell. This is huge. This could wreck everything for me.”

With time ticking away, Gallagher has to make a decision. But he knows only too well that if he gets it wrong even a little bit, he’s going to have backache for the rest of the day.

He’s taken the plunge! He’s gone to sit on the chair -

and he’s missed!

This is terrible!

“A chair is a stable, raised surface used to sit on, commonly for use by one person,” explained head judge Dan Brown. “In ancient Egypt chairs appear to have been of great richness and splendor [citation needed]. Fashioned of ebony and ivory, or of carved and gilded wood, they were covered with costly materials, magnificent patterns and supported upon representations of the legs of beasts or the figures of captives. During Tang dynasty (618 - 907 AD), a higher seat first started to appear amongst the Chinese elite and their usage soon spread to all levels of society. By the 12th century seating on the floor was rare in China, unlike in other Asian countries where the custom continued, and the chair, or more commonly the stool, was used in the vast majority of houses throughout the country.”

“Golly,” said the Estate of Enid Blyton. “Really, just a little ginger beer, it’s not that much to ask.”

“Now you owe me for 21 words,” said Archer. “Plus VAT.”

Coming up: can William Gallagher recover from this disaster? Will a set-back mean a set-to with the judges? Will there be a stand-off over the standfirst?

Then just who is going to lose their cool over a paper jam - and who will get hot under the collar about the cost of replacement ink cartridges? Don’t go away now.