Christopher Nosnibor’s Guide to Working as a Music Reviewer – Part Three

No two ways about it, the 9-5 is a pain in the proverbial. No doubt if you’re an aspiring reviewer you’re resentful of the humdrum desk job, bar job, whatever, and who would blame you. Unfortunately, it’s the humdrum desk job, bar job, whatever that pays the bills.

I resent the humdrum desk job as much if not more than anyone, although it was while working my day-job that a not insignificant realisation hit. I’d landed the task of leading a group of colleagues through a session on letter-writing. These are people, adults, who write detailed letters to customers daily. It’s their job. I was shocked, and indeed appalled, to realise just how far back to basics I had to take things.

I found myself having to explain not only the possessive apostrophe, and the difference between affect and effect, but also the definition of a noun and a verb, singular and plural.

I expect the bulk of my readers will laugh or feel a wave of despondency. However, anyone who aspires to be the next Nick Kent and who’s stumbled upon this blog in the hope of finding advice or otherwise gleaning some tips for making it – whatever that may be – as a music reviewer, I will proffer the following: learn to write.

If their / they’re / there is beyond you, give up, immediately. Enjoy the music, but please don’t inflict your illiterate drivel on others.

Similarly, if you’re reading this and have no idea who Nick Kent is, you don’t have a hope. Writing about music requires a knowledge of music, and ideally, a knowledge of music journalism. This is true in almost any field of critique. Yes, it’s all about opinion, but your opinion only has weight if you can qualify if with some kind of evidence. No-one’s going to respect your opinion if you don’t know shit.

Word ends in

And if you’re loving my work, there’s more of the same (only different) at Christophernosnibor.co.uk

Things That the Everyday Folk Leave Behind

So I’ve had a pretty busy time of late, what with a couple of interviews I’ve conducted and am conducting for various publications, not to mention interviews and promo bits and pieces for From Destinations Set which is out on the 28th, and a spate of gigs and a tidal wave of new releases to review (90 reviews this year to date), and as a consequence, the blog’s something I’ve let slide a bit (again).

With so much to do, places to go and people to see, I find I spend all of my waking hours rushing about, and my non-waking hours spent with my mind churning through all of the things I’ve done and have got to do and should have done but haven’t yet. To an extent, that’s pretty normal for me, but lately I’ve been so preoccupied and absorbed in all of this activity that I noticed that I’ve stopped noticing things. This concerns me. I’ve always maintained that being attuned to one’s surroundings is the key to being a writer of merit (and while my merits as a writer won’t ultimately be determined by me, it’s something I like to feel I at least aspire to). Besides, it’s not something that’s entirely optional: drawing on the details and minutia of the everyday is a compulsion, it’s something I can’t help, at least under normal circumstances. Observation, those details of life and snippets of overheard dialogue have long provided me with an abundance of material for my writing, be it fiction or blogs or whatever, Absorbing information from the world around me is integral not only to my work, but who I am. Small wonder I was beginning to feel that the workload was swallowing my life: I was beginning to lose myself.

As a consequence, I resolved to pull myself back to life, and I’ve begun to try to observe my surroundings again. I have no idea why I was remotely surprised by the sensory overload this retuning induced, given that I find the wealth of extraneous information dizzying the majority of the time, but having effectively shut down for a period of time, engaging once again with my environment proved to be an immediate culture shock.

So on leaving the house this morning, I was elated to note that day was breaking. It was the first time in months I had hit the pavement in daylight. The air was cold but still. Birds were singing – something quite uncommon given the density of the housing, the lack of gardens and trees and the large number of brutal cats in the neighbourhood. On arrival at the bus stop, I was amused – and also bemused – to see that on one of the seats moulded into the shelter was a handbag. Abandoned, forgotten. Beside the handbag, stretched and strewn across the next two seats, a pair of tights. I wondered if the tights and bag had the same (former) owner. Must’ve been one hell of a night.

It’s not just physical objects that are discarded at random. Conversations, sounds, ideas, all contribute to the flotsam and jetsam. Before long, I’m on the bus, surrounded by blank individuals. The journey is soundtracked by the album The Disaster of Imagination by Sense of Scenery. It doesn’t entirely drown the chatter of the other passengers. I’m reading $20,000 by Bill Drummond. The sensory overload I’m accustomed to is back. Snippets of dialogue filter into my consciousness, on the bus, at the office. Most of it mere babble, some of it so inane it’s beyond belief. ‘Is she still Spanish?’

I’m being flooded with material, more material in a day than I can use in a lifetime. I pick them all up, all of the bits and pieces, and stow them, ready for when I need them. I never know when I might need that discarded handbag, the left-behind tights, the fragments of dialogue, the half light and the birdsong. I’m living the experience that I was supposed to be creating to an amplified degree in THE PLAGIARIST. It’s not funny any more. This is the world.

I’m back and I’m firing on all cylinders….

And if you’re loving my work, there’s more of the same (only different) at Christophernosnibor.co.uk

No Success Like Failure: How Things Never Go To Plan

As a rule, I avoid making New Year’s resolutions. They’re usually impossible o keep and I get sick of people going on endlessly about how they’re going to go the gym or whatever, only to moan six weeks later that their plans went out the window before they’d even started. Me, if I’m going to do something, I’ll do it when I’m read and when the time is right. New Year is a bad time to start anything, on a number of levels. Moreover, if I’m going to do something, rather than making a big song and dance about it, I just shut up and get on with it. Then, if I don’t achieve my objective, no-one’s any the wiser and I save myself shame and embarrassment.

Next month sees the publication of issue 2 of I’m Afraid of Everyone, a cool, no-budget old-school zine.  The brainchild of a collective who go under the banner of King Ink, Issue 1 was dark, yet also darkly comical, a proper photocopy and staple job that goes against the tide of the slick digital publications and all the better for it. Issue 2 will feature a new piece of mine, entitled ‘Blaming Bukowski.’ Alongside this, I was asked for a few words abut what I’m afraid of. After some thought, I realised that my biggest fear is of failure. And yet I have failed. I fail often, an this year has been one endless failure for me.

Back in January, I vowed to publish less, even to blog less, and concentrate on longer pieces. As it’s nigh on impossible to write something substantial and maintain a level of output in the public domain at the same time, the plan was to sacrifice the latter in favour of the former. After I’d done the Clinical, Brutal thing, that was.

So January saw the publication of Clinical, Brutal… An Anthology of Writing With Guts, which has been doing pretty well. To promote the book, I conducted interviews with a number of the contributing authors. It was time-consuming but immensely rewarding. It also meant that articles with my name on kept appearing for the next two months.

While I may have continued into the summer without much by way of new fiction, I was kicking out music reviews like it was my day-job, and have now written and published some 325 of the things, while also blogging on MySpace most weeks and throwing the occasional article out in various other directions on-line. Some of those pieces have been requoted elsewhere, and done my profile no harm whatsoever, other than further spoil my plan to disappear for a while

In the last couple of months, after I stepped down from working for them for the foreseeable future, Clinicality Press have seen fit to publish my novella, From Destinations Set and a new collection of short stories, The Gimp. Ok, so they’ve emerged and remained under the radar for most so far, but that’s fine. I’m just happy they’re out there.

However, in a final self-defeating twist, I have recently begun to assail open mic nights and other such events with my presence and brief performances. Turns out I’m not terrible at it, but given my objective to operate as an ‘invisible’ author, I’m painfully aware that I’m breaking all of my own rules by doing this. I’ll be doing it again on December 10th. I’m Afraid of Everyone will be holding a launch night event for issue 2 at the Python Gallery in Middlesborough, and reading a selection of my latest writing. It’s good for business, and perhaps the heaviest promotion I’ve ever done, but given my aims for 2010, the price of any perceived success this may equate to is without doubt absolute failure.

I’m Afraid of Everyone’s on-line base is here: http://imafraidofeveryonemh.blogspot.com/

And if you’re loving my work, there’s more of the same (only different) at Christphernosnibor.co.uk.