OPINION: Coulda Woulda Shoulda

Posted on May 24, 2014


Honestly, some people really do have the most ludicrous ideas about what authors earn and money in the arts. Take for example the former supervisor back when I still had a ‘real’ job before being chucked onto the invalidity scrapheap. On discovering I had just had my first short story published in an anthology, she was quite sure this meant I would soon be retiring. Because writing a book is easy, isn’t it? And every book that gets written gets published, doesn’t it? And every author gets paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in advances, don’t they? *take hand, slap forehead repeatedly*

Then there’s the Coulda Shoulda Woulda element. “You know what you should write!” “I think I could be a writer” Don’t tell me what I should be writing. If it was that easy, we’d all be writing best-sellers every time. And if you want to be a writer but are not writing, then get off of your fat bum and start writing. It really is that easy. Being a good writer, an experienced writer, a published and selling writer are all different matters but they all have one common element – start writing. But inevitably, having informed me what I should be writing and that they could be writers, the response to ‘then start writing’ is almost always ‘oh I couldn’t’ and then the excuses start.

This Coulda Shoulda Woulda thing took on a whole new element when I stumbled into stand up comedy. Robin Williams or Billy Connolly I ain’t. But if you get an audience laughing, you can just about guarantee that later on there will be at least one audience member come up to tell you how good you (well of course I was, Ross says, his fat head swelling even more) and then informing me “people tell me I should do comedy.” Same thing kids – write some material, go out and give it a go. But be warned – onstage with a mic in your hand, telling jokes starting with ‘have you heard the one about the chick that…’  or other such things that made your drunk mates down the bar laugh hard, will almost certainly fail. My favourite such a piece of advice was after a show I had been part of. Afterwards while outside getting fresh air with some of the other performers,  someone approached me. Wow – it turned out to be my first fan who didn’t actually know me beforehand. Apparently a quite tasteless piece which just gave me the excuse to make many sounds of copious vomiting, made this bloke laugh like hell. And then came the inevitable “people tell me …” And his repertoire was apparently comic impressions. And I was treated to one of his impressions – that of Billy Connolly. Except this chap was an Asian man. With a strong accent. And drunk. A thick Asian accent, slurring drunk, trying to sound like Glaswegian Billy Connolly.

I managed to keep a straight face. In fairness was still probably better than any impression I might try.

The common element here is that these Coulda Shoulda Wouldas in imparting their no-doubt well intentioned advice, seem to think they are being so incredibly original. And we’re so incredibly thick and stupid. And today’s CSW advice was a lofty, kindly, patronising “well arts should seek sponsorship just like they do in sports.”

W0w. What an amazing idea. And nobody involved in the arts ever thought of that before! *strike forehead repeatedly with hand* Firstly, no, being involved in the arts in some way does not mean that I am automatically a thick-head like that. Secondly, I am prepared to be I have done a lot more work in trying to obtain sponsorship in both sport and in the arts and I know just how bloody hard it is to get it at any level below the elite level. However, who am Ito say that I have all the answers. So here goes, my pitch to a sponsor, as a writer and sure to be a money-raising hit.

Dear manufacturer and purveyor of a certain sugary, caffeinated soft drink.

I shall be the next Stephen King.

You can trust me on that.

And in return for your small contribution of $100,000 per annum, I shall have all my characters drink nothing other than your beverage and wear items of clothing bearing your logo. With projected annual sales of at least 1,000,000 copies per annum with on average 543 explicit mentions of your product per book, that is 543,000,000 product, making this a brilliant deal for you. I have not yet written that book but don’t you worry about that.

You can trust me on that.

Thanking you in expectation of your cheque arriving my return post.


Ross sig




Ross has had his rant so over to you – what do you think?

Posted in: Opinion, Other