Of Sherlock, Larsson & Terry Pratchett.

I read this article from ‘The Verge’ today, and it made me think about the legacies that creatives leave behind them.

I’m sure you’ll have heard of Terry Pratchett – one of the most celebrated authors of our generation. Sadly, he died in 2015, after a long battle with Alzheimer’s – over the years he sold 85 million books worldwide, and they were translated into 37 different languages.

Quite the legacy.

The other legacy that Pratchett left behind was ten unpublished/unfinished novels that were stored on his hard drive.

So, what did he want done with these books? Did he want them published? Did he want someone to ghost-write them and finish them for him?

Nope. He asked for the hard drive to be destroyed by Lord Jericho.

Lord Jericho being a vintage steam roller.

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And so away went Pratchett’s unfinished legacy, never to grace his worldwide readership. Meaning that no editors or ghostwriters would be able to change his work after his death.

Which, for him, was the perfect outcome.

However, not every creative is so lucky. Take for example, Steig Larsson.

Larsson burst onto the scene in the early noughties. His ‘Millenium’ trilogy became a worldwide sensation – and, if you haven’t read the three books, I firmly implore you to give them a go.

Sadly, Larsson died of a sudden heart attack in 2004. At that time his three novels were sat on his computer – unpublished. In 2005 the first one was released.

But, Larsson would never know that. Which I find realy sad. He was an activist and a journalist by trade, and had often hinted to colleagues and friends that he was writing some novels that would be his ‘retirement fund’.

What’s worse is that Larsson’s sudden death caused problems with his estate  and where the royalties and copyright should go. Whether it should go to his reportedly ‘estranged’ family  or to his partner, Eva – the debate still rages on now – over ten years later.

Since then a couple of other books have been released in the series, written by a completely different writer – and done so without the blessings of Larsson’s partner.

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And, you have to wonder, how would he feel about this? Should a writer’s work go with the writer, or should it stay?

I wonder what Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would think of the ‘Sherlock’ TV series, and who knows what HP Lovecraft would think of the many films and novels that his stories spawned.

When doors close…

…the most important thing you can do is look for the next opportunity.

Life is like a Rubik’s cube sometimes.

Just as you think you’ve got the right combo, you realise you’ve missed something or it doesn’t work out as expected.

So, when that happens, it’s important to keep rolling until everything clicks into place the way you want it to.

Even if that takes longer or looks different to what you expected.

Either that or learn how to do a real Rubik’s cube in record time and go around the world showcasing your skill.

Sports, marketing & moolah: is everyone a winner?

 

At around 9PM yesterday evening the eyes of the world were fixed on the glitzy smorgasbord of sin that is Las Vegas.

In perhaps the most hyped up boxing match of our lives Floyd Mayweather took on Conor McGregor.

The media had been building it up for weeks and weeks. Both fighters were very high profile and very outspoken – meaning that there was constant content to be harvested. A sports editor’s dream.

Boxing has always been full of big characters and drama – it relies on promotion, so mountains are made out of molehills as much as possible.

But there was something unique about the fight.

Floyd Mayweather has been called the best boxer of his generation, and as he has now retired with 50 wins and no losses, you could argue that that’s fair comment.

However his opponent, Conor McGregor, wasn’t an actual boxer. He’d never competitively fought in a boxing ring – yet he’d called out Mayweather, and Mayweather had answered.

Crazy isn’t it? Most people would go out of their way to avoid clashing with an unbeaten professional boxer.

But, not McGregor.

He was a professional MMA fighter, which is very different to boxing.

But, there he was!

Calling Mayweather out and telling anyone who would listen that he’d beat him.

The media lapped it up. Crazy headlines all round. Some even told us that medical experts had warned McGregor, telling him not to compete for the sake of his health.

None of it stopped him.

He managed to last ten rounds but eventually Mayweather clinched it. Much to the relief of the bookies.

Both men survived and then went their separate ways. McGregor back to his native Ireland, and Mayweather to enjoy his retirement.

McGregor lost. Technically. But he also pocketed $30 million for the fight (with Mayweather taking away $100).

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Previously the most McGregor had ever won was $3 million. Now he can times that by ten. So, really, neither man lost. Or at least not in a coventional sense.

I mean, would you feel defeated if you received 30 million dollars after a really bad day at the office?

Is money in sport (and other big industries) changing the meaning of the word loss?

Sure, McGregor maybe disappointed that he didn’t win (that is if he ACTUALLY believed he would), but just imagine what he can do with that 30 million.

Mayweather said after the fight: “If I see an opportunity to make $300m in 36 minutes, why not? I had to do it.”

That says it all, it was a fight made from marketing more than anything else. Yet people bought into it, they paid to see it and they betted on it. All of them clinging on to the slight hope that this underdog might just prevail.

Back in the day I used to captain a six-a-side football team in a Sunday league. Each week we paid a few quid to play. On many of those weeks we lost.

It built character and comradeship between us, and each week we’d come back with a new determination.

I wonder if we’d have been quite so bothered by a loss if we received a big cash injection afterwards. As we were students back then, I highly doubt it…

Take professional footballers for example, imagine if they were only paid for the games they won – how different do you think things would be?

 

Beyond the headlines…

Here’s a fact for you….

“On average, 8 out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest.”
(Courtesy of Copyblogger)

It’s interesting, isn’t it?

And, almost sad in a way – because I know that many writers put so much effort into their actual content.

Headlines can be frustrating too. After all, they’re always limited and you can only get across a fraction of what you want to say.

So, I guess that’s the trick.

Finding that biting point – the right amount of information, to go along with the right amount of ‘readme’ promiscuity.

Find a hook, reel them in and then concentrate on engaging the few people who actually continue reading.

And remember, once you’ve got that headline out of the way – ever other line that you write is in itself an argument to get your reader to read the next line.

And the next. And the next. And the next.

Make every word count!

 

 

What could you learn from Wayne Rooney?

As a football fan it’s taken me a long time to like Wayne Rooney.

And, truth be told, I’m still not quite there.

He played many a game Manchester United and, as an Arsenal fan, they’re not a team that I like.

However, at 31 years of age, he’s now gone back to his boyhood club, Everton. I feel I can like him more, at least until he next plays Arsenal – he always seems to score against us.

But this post isn’t really about football.

It’s about a decision Rooney made today (23/08/17).

He decided to step down from international football – which was a difficult decision for him, he’s England record goal scorer with 53 strikes to his name!

But, what I admire about this decision, is that he decided to quit while he was on top and focus his attention on his main job – playing for his club.

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(photo: the telegraph)

Sure he could have played for a few more years. But, he’s getting old and there’s only a certain amount of time within which you can stretch yourself over different platforms before you start getting injured or tired.

Now he can do what he loves for the club he loves with no other distractions and no other pressures.

His career will likely last longer as a result.

It’s something we can all bear in mind – an example we can learn from, sometimes it’s worth taking away some of our side jobs to work towards your most important goal.

A case of essentialising.

Now of course representing your country at a sport is a great honour, and one that not many of us have.

But what a lot of us do have are other distractions and side jobs that take up our time and, most importantly, our focus.

How often have you stopped to think to yourself something like – ‘I’ve got enough on today and yet I still need to do….’ or how often have you found yourself agreeing to something, and then realising (somewhat too late) just how much of your valuable work or leisure time it’ll suck up?

Sometimes it’s better to quit these things while you’re ahead, before they just get in the way and do you more harm than good.

After all, the further you stretch yourself, the thinner you spread yourself.

Check out Essentialism by Greg McKeown – it’ll change your life.