A Mare’s Nest.

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An event advertised as: 

The Selling Of The Written Word.

Scene: We are at a lecture and speech given by the self-professed best-selling author NQTTT, also known as Mr Thinks He Knows It All

He is here today, allegedly, with two other authors, but all is not what it seems. This ticketed gathering is taking place in a large, high ceilinged reception room; part of King’s College, The Strand, London.

The room has been partitioned into sections, where only twenty people can be assembled at any one-time. Throughout this vast area are strategically placed speakers broadcasting the sound of jostling and muted conversations, giving the impression of crowds coming and going. It is, however, an illusion. All of what can be seen and heard is contrived.

Mr Thinks He Knows It All has, in the past, been a bit-part actor, and today is his biggest role. There is a director in charge of the performance, linked by microphone to our ‘star‘ on the stage. It’s his publisher, Mr. Daniel Cooke, who’s instructions are only heard by NQTTT. However, our speaker is, as you are about to find out, egotistical and not receptive to advice. One more piece of information before we set off. There are ‘plants’ in the audience with prearranged questions! 

You have no time for a welcoming drink as…….The Performance starts….Now!

Lights. Curtain. Action:     Not to be taken too seriously.

“Form an orderly queue please. There will be millions of you here today to hear the likes of me pontificating and giving advice on how to market your work.” 

(good okay, we’re off and running. We have rehearsed well, you’ll be alright. I’ll just give you directions as we go along. Start off by strutting backwards and forward, side to side on the podium. Make out you are important, difficult in your case but we’ll give it a bash. Point at someone…. pause. NOW, stamp your authority from the start)

“You, yes, you at the back with the bald head and elephant ears. Don’t look at me like that old chap, you must have been referred to in that way all your life. Move to your right and line up in the correct fashion. Be a good chap and set an example.” 

(point at him and use a pronounced, condescending tone to the voice) 

I wouldn’t think too many can see me from behind ears the size of those sticking out the side of your head!” 

(give a loud raucous laugh as you finish that line) 

 HA HA HA!

“Stop pushing back there. I will get round to you all in good time, just give me a while.” 

(smile in a self-satisfied manner) 

“There’s no need to look round.” 

(stare at him disapprovingly) 

“Yes, you at the front. Are you stupid? Pay attention. You’ll only strain your neck. Didn’t you bring your step ladders with you? You are a bit on the short side, aren’t you laddie? In any case, you won’t be able to see them all from where you stand.” 

(pause, hold, go) 

“Trust me, there are thousands waiting to meet me and gain from my experience.” 

(straighten your tie, emphasis your importance)

“Now then, I shall begin with a brief but eloquent introduction, as of course all important writers do. We are after all, custodians of the English language.” 

(take a deep intake of breath and wait for the effect to take hold)

“I write stories and, I’m very good at it. I use the initials NQTTT as a pseudonym. I lead readers on to believe it stands for Nye Quellium Tractum Trieste Tacitum, which no one understands, but certainly makes me sound extremely knowledgable and erudite. What do you think? Impressed, yes?” 

(now one of those supercilious grins, that abound in the writing business would be nice and appropriate)

“What’s that you ask? Yes, you with a thesaurus stuck on your head. Didn’t quite catch you old chap. Speak up, be assertive, confident like me.” 

(it’s going well, repeat the question, eyes rolling)

“What do those letters really mean? Well now, that’s a daft question.”

(give him a severe disapproving glare. Remember you’re a writer and look down on lesser mortals than you. Hmm, there aren’t many I guess. Hang on. Ad lib at bit. Can’t quite find that question of his in the script)

“Never-Quite-Tell-The-Truth of course.” 

(why did you say that you fool) 

“How else can you market your wares on face book and twitter? Do be real old chap! That’s why you’re all here is it not, to maximise your sales?”

(okay, let’s regain the situation, stand back, move your head around as if you really care and the question needs an answer)

“The lady in the floral dressing gown, yes, I will answer you but I must get on.” 

(look more agitated, but in control. Imagine a writer who’s had a one-star review. Should be easy for you. Not well thought of by most honest critics are you?)

“What’s that? It’s a Hermes dress and not a house coat. Well, I must say Madam that on you it looks somewhat odd. I’m not a fashion reporter am I?”

(carry-on with a stupid grin through your teeth. Make the audience feel as tiny and as unimportant as possible. Same sort of approach as you, and those writers on face book and twitter)

“Yes sir. I shall take your question next.”……It’s from one of those ‘plants.’

“That fact that I’m highly popular amongst my peers is quite obvious I think. I’m great, as the reviews show! I have no need to fabricate them. Of course on Goodreads and Amazon that can be done, but not by anyone I know. As I am a best-selling author, I have had thirty-three of my humble offerings classified as such, the need of lies is far from necessary!”  

(strut around again, head back looking upwards, hoping that you do not get struck by lightning!)

“Oh please, not more interruptions. You, yes you who looks like Gandalf. You could have shaved old chap. What is it now?” 

(emphasis..now. We are getting to the good bit. He’s our chap)

“Hmm, you allege that I’m not what I say I am?” 

(this is not in the script. He was supposed to say something complimentary…..stall, play for time. I’m sending for the rep from Amazon, we need legal backup)

“Wonderful weather for the time of year don’t you think? What? Sorry can’t hear you?” 

(you are on your own for a while I’m on the phone. Amazon are checking their files to see if he’s listed with any books or kindles on their site. Doesn’t seem to be. Standby, more coming through from them)

“Well, of course I’m a bestseller, just look at the numbers man. What’s that you say?” Speak up! 

(look interested but STALL man……..I can see where this is going)

I GAVE MY WORK AWAY and then falsely claimed to be a BESTSELLER?” 

(shut the …..up. He’s leading you into a trap) 

“Well, of course I did.” 

(heaven help us, here we go. Standby for lawsuits)

“How else would I become a bestseller? And what? People state on twitter and face book that they bought my book, when in fact they got it free. So what? I will do the same for them when they do a freebie, give away or ‘I’m the best there ever was, look at me, I’m great,’ kind of thingy. How else do YOU think YOU will be noticed.” 

(I’m gone. Amazon are taking over the mic. Tear the script up or eat it!…Good bloody luck. IDIOT)

“What’s that you say? Amazon are the only ones gaining from my, and the rest of our enlightened ostrich’s marketing strategy. How thick are you? Without our financial support, where would Amazon be? Of course Amazon sell other things, and successfully, I’m not completely stupid. What, no one else in other trades, who advertise on Amazon, give work away free… Hmm, didn’t know that. Builders don’t? What about plumbers? Car dealers? What, I could try selling books in bookshops?….. What are those old chap?…Dinosaurs dear boy, dead and buried, or waiting so to be. Finished dear boy, have I won the point?” 

(hello there. I’m your friendly free advisor from Amazon. Anything you need will be coming….in time….through our customer relations office situated in the central plains of Outer Mongolia. Can I offer some advice here? You really should try to wrap this up. You are going to lose credibility if you’re not careful)

“That’s such a nonsensical point of view. You say that bookshops are closing because of Amazon. Nonsense dear boy, pure and utter.” 

(thank you, liked that, bravo. We bought Goodreads with your help. We haven’t tried Libraries yet, but who knows, eh)

“They’re closing because no one reads any more, that’s why. Well, certainly fewer do since Mission Impossible, Men In Black and Games of Thrones. I blame Gone with the Wind. Downhill from then onwards. Everyone wanted to become a writer. Oh don’t make me laugh. What next? It’s because of my ilk giving valueless work away? I do value my work. Well, yes, I guess that no price does suggest that it’s worthless. But it’s a come-on. They buy the next book.” 

(are you absolutely sure about your facts? We never bother to check thoroughly. I can’t say that our figures substantiate that or not. Don’t elaborate on the point, you could be sued. Speaking on behalf of the Company, we couldn’t give a monkey’s flying fart if you sold something, or gave it all away. We plan to buy Apple, Microsoft, Smashwords and Wattpad next. A complete monopoly of the written word is our ultimate aim. Then of course we will charge astronomical amounts of money for all of you writers)

“Sorry, what was that? No, not you with the questions. Certainly not you Madam with the press badge. How did you get to the front anyway? The microphone in my ear is talking to me. What? There’s not a microphone there, it’s a nest in my ear Madam? Are you sure?……A horse’s nest you say, speak up I can’t hear you clearly?…..A mare’s-nest? What’s……………THAT?”

Mare’s Nest, a definition:

1. A complex or confused situation; a muddle: your desk’s usually a mare’s nest.

2. An illusory discovery: the mare’s nest of perfect safety.

3. Something that appears to be of great interest but is a complete waste of time.

CURTAIN FALL. Play The Final Post and lower the flag on TRUTH.

http://www-thedesolategarden-com.co.uk/

 

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About Danny Kemp

I was at work one sunny November day in 2006, stopped at a red traffic light when a van, driven incompetently, smashed into me. I was taken to St Thomas' Hospital and kept in for a while, but it was not only the physical injuries that I suffered from; it was also mental ones. I had lost confidence in myself let alone those around me. The experts said that I had post-traumatic stress disorder, which I thought only the military or emergency personnel suffered from. On good days, I attempted to go to work, sometimes I even made it through Blackwell Tunnel only to hear, or see, something that made me jump out of my skin and that's when the anxiety attacks would start. I told my wife that I was okay and going regularly, but I wasn't. I could not cope with life and thought about ending it. Somehow or other with the help of my wife and medical professionals, I managed to survive and ever so slowly rebuild my self-esteem. It took almost four years to fully recover, but it was during those dark depressive days that I began to write. My very first story, Look Both Ways, Then Look Behind, found a literary agent but not a publisher. He told me that I had a talent, raw, but nevertheless, it was there. His advice was to write another story and that I'm delighted to say, I did. The success of that debut novel, The Desolate Garden, was down to sheer hard work, luck, and of course, meeting a film producer.
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