Nov. 29, 2021

S1 Ep32: Lets' talk about using f*$%ing apostrophe's correctly with Simon Griffin

So, this week its' time to have a little chittertychat with Mr Simon Griffin, author of F*$%ing Apostrophes'. We talk about review's and how Simon pretty much almost became an author by accident! Enjoy's!

Find Simon's lovely book here

And, now Jon's little feature is finally off and running, you can find David Lucas' book here

Music by Dano songs


welcome to the failing writers podcast or the fwp for you cool kids out there respect nailed it

welcome once again to another episode uh and we've got we have actually got something quite exciting to talk about haven't we because a feature that john's been harping on about for ages uh has finally come to fruition it has yeah we've got an entry for our new feature how exciting is that and better than that it's good and the book sounds good yeah so i'm uh i'm gonna buy it i'm gonna buy it i'm gonna read it let's just do a quick recap first because this is the feature where we are asking anybody who's ever written a book and wants to sell it to give us a 30-second pitch for their book in the hope that some of our listeners might uh might go oh that sounds good and rush out and buy it exactly if you want to advertise your book for free we've got a cheeky little feature that you need to see just send a piffy pitch of your book to me a voice memo of 30 seconds exactly but we couldn't agree on what its name should be so now we're gonna call it something different every week and this week we're gonna call it i've got 99 problems and a pitch ain't one north vietnam 1954 tung a young rice farmer has a stark choice join the communists and face a rest and torture or join the french and face assassination by protecting his family tongue becomes a target for corrupt officials ungodly priests vietcong assassins and trigger happy gi's while the world around him burns uprooted is the epic and inspiring true story of a vietnamese family forced to make heartbreaking choices as they strive for freedom is it just me i'm not not sure about that music bed and it sounded quite a serious serious topic but uh anyway that's the pitch that sounds intriguing doesn't it it does sound very intriguing a true story as well based on a true story yeah it says david lucas moved to america we should say his name we i don't think we've mentioned his name yet he just did it his author is david lucas and he moved to america in 2008 to marry a girl from florida and it was after meeting her grandfather tongue that uprooted began to take shape yeah so so obviously uh her grandfather it's presumably his story sounds quite intriguing it's it's got some very good reviews as well well that's all that's all we've got to do then lads isn't it to get a book sawed move to a different country yeah marry someone steal their family story nick their grandfather's story i mean he's pretty easy this yeah we just start you'd find someone to marry and then you go right i need to meet your grandad oh granddad jim yes yes granddad jim he'll have some stories but he hasn't he hasn't he's the most boring granddad alive but um well well done to david lucas thanks for that yeah thanks for thanks for entering david lucas because i don't know if you've noticed but i've been trying to get this off the ground for like the last month and a half or something they're gonna flood in now though people are gonna exactly send them quickly they're going all right i get it now so i'll just do 30 seconds about my book why didn't don just say that i'll tell you what it'd be nice if david was to get in touch with us if he does actually sell anything off the back of this to see the massive yeah oh it's gonna explode so yeah if you've got a book that you want to sell why not get in touch and uh join david lucas at the top of the best selling charts god he's good any tom yeah but speaking of best-selling books um how are you guys getting on with writing yours for nanowrimo i'll tell you i've interesting development in mind yeah i've given up

in a shock move i don't know i don't think anyone saw that coming yeah two weeks ago i was pretty confident i was gonna get it done and then just uh yeah it's really it's just down to a hole oh mate i was not expecting you to decide so amazingly tom in national novel writing month you've managed to now not write two different books yes i have that is but if you add the amount of stuff i've written for those two different books together yeah it's still not very much but probably more than you've written for years so yeah it was it was an interesting uh escapade while it lasted are you sorry tommy are you are you saying you you're giving up on it or you just saying that you you're having a little break or you haven't done very much what no actually that's a very good question um probably leaning towards the giving up entirely but you just lost interest or no uh maybe yeah not alright and novel writing's not my thing maybe maybe i've been trying to force myself into the wrong the wrong spot all these years maybe that's why this is good this is a good learner i'm a failing writer maybe um oh well that's it's a shame but if you feel comfortable with that decision tom i think i do actually yeah i think an end for me ended up just being a bit too much self-imposed pressure really i think that's interesting i didn't feel that as you probably know he's just watched over here i'm really good with pressure what i do is i just ignore it yeah how about you dave give us some good news well uh i mean like 32 000 words i think it is now connect um it's going all right i don't know what i don't think i'm going to get to 50 000 words do you think i'm going to get to the end twitter i could just add some words i know i just i think it's gonna like looking at how much of the book is left to right uh i don't think i've got another 20 000 words to go but i think i'll get to the end pathetic isn't it john really his efforts this month

get a not really foreign so what you're telling us dave is that you've written a long short story is that what you're saying yeah yeah or a short long story uh no i think i think probably upon reading this draft when i get to the end i will notice that there are some sizable gaps that need to be filled almost certainly but i've got um i've got a thought do you think that it's a tv series because you are i think you're naturally a kind of that is sort of yourself do you think have you sort of written it into six parts by any chance no it doesn't sort of naturally fall into sort of a six episode scenario i don't know really that's my theory i'm gonna stick to it i've just been sort of so focused on just doing the story and getting it down and not trying to worry about it that um i kind of figure worrying about how many words there are is probably the least important thing it's just yeah you know getting the story but it's taking some weird unexpected turns it's got sort of quite it's not quite emotional at this point like different relationships are blooming and that's good though that's great because that means you actually give a crap about the characters yeah yeah which shows that they're good characters there's some emotional stuff yeah i think i do think some of the characters are still entirely one-dimensional maybe not even one-dimensional but don't you need them i'm not being funny but even in a really quality book or quality tv series you sometimes just otherwise you just you get overwhelmed by characters don't you can get you need that focus on the on the kind of the front front three or four yeah and then you then you should use two-dimensional one-dimensional stereotyping characters can't care about everybody can you don't need to know the full ins and outs of a bit part player that's true that's true i do think some bits could do with expanding but it's weird how like i was thinking about it uh earlier on how much it's changed from like the original idea that i had all those years ago it's like unrecognizable from that but it's all it's sort of all about this sort of lead character now the um the one you're in yeah the policewoman who dreams of being a comedian i've sort of i think i might run away and start a new life with her maybe she's got an interesting director maybe yeah yeah um but yeah no it's it's taken some sort of some odd shifts and it's kind of still i've been getting worried because i've i've like i don't have much more of the plan in front of me but it's keeping itself going um so yeah still i'm still enjoying it and and uh let's see hopefully bye bye no god is that right by the next episode it'll all be over yeah yeah yeah yeah but presumably you'll god you'll be right at the beginning of your writing journey of this and also if it's a series you could be writing these for years oh god don't say that it's gonna be your life

what about you john same as usual good right so we've got an interview coming up haven't we i like doing that every week yet we do we're talking to simon griffin who is uh an ex-admin who worked uh at grey's in london before moving north working in like super cool agencies in manchester working on big campaigns became a freelance copywriter and then became an accidental author and is now uh what does he teach he teaches design and technology yeah now so yeah a bit of a funny one because he's sort of the opposite of a failing writer really isn't he yes kind of he never really intended like to become a writer in the first place but was actually quite successful so yeah he's like the total opposite of us and he's the first first guest we've had on whose uh surname is a mythical creature that could be a new feature couldn't it go in until we've got carol unicorn on next week of course well let's hear what he had to say then shall we let's hear it oh i didn't tell you what he wrote uh he's written two books uh what i like to call his sweary series [ __ ] apostrophes and [ __ ] good manners two [ __ ] excellent christmas presents by the way either for people who can't use punctuation properly or for people who are rude and maybe you'd like to gently hint to that they're rude uh so well the perfect gift for people who do use punctuation properly and get really annoyed about the people that don't yeah true the ranters i like i love how annoyed people yeah it's a proper a pedant's dream yeah it's amazing this is a plural why is the grocery because he's got he's not he didn't even get his english gcse and he started he opened a grocery shop and he's doing well leave them on let him use apostrophes yeah that's fine do you get do you get angry about uh grammar i can honestly say i've never got angry about grammar but then it takes quite a lot to get me angry um i do i get quite angry about it because we in our day jobs as voice overs we do see a lot of scripts and it has to be said there they are a varying quality when it comes to grammar and punctuation yeah but don't you you get very good i think you get very good at interpreting what someone's trying to say even if they just haven't used any punctuation yeah it's to my extent but often that's halfway through the center well that's true are you going blah blah blah blah blah and your brain goes that doesn't sound right right it should be a comment we're all talking about uh phil at key by the way is that what we're talking about yeah uh yeah i think i've i once read a 60-second script of his that didn't have a single full stop anyway massively overrated punctuation massively you do get i get some of those though where you start reading a sentence then you just keep on going and then you're starting to struggle for breath and you're thinking jesus christ i didn't realize there wasn't a full stop in here then you could then you can blame it on the right again this isn't the failing voiceovers podcast exactly let's crack on yes now it's time for our little chat with simon g about how he became a writer accidentally it's charlie spliffing spending time with griffin riffing on his life

simon griffin has an elegant philosophy when it comes to punctuation you should give a toss you see so past the t and have a gust with me about [ __ ] apostrophes so the first question we asked simon was about how come after having some relative success in the writing world he ended up going to be a teacher yeah

i suppose i could link it in with the topic of your podcast which is probably helpful um i felt like a bit of a fraud as a writer i always thought that as much success i just used the term loosely but as much as well as i felt i'd done i just felt incredibly nervous talking about my writing trying to sell my my words to other people especially like as a copywriter that i always had to convince them that i was going to be you know i was going to be the perfect writer for the job and that i had to justify my day rate by using you know being by being super eloquent and using really sort of big fancy words but in actual facts that was what i was rubbish at and an actual fact and but to sell to a client the fact that what you're going to do is just use really really simple words and make things easy to understand and then you're going to charge them you know 3 400 quid a day it's quite a difficult sell that you know when you say what are you gonna do i'm just gonna yeah make things simple okay but but that's doesn't mean that you know that that's that's the art of writing is it is it's the hardest thing to do i think as a writer i enjoyed what i did but i kind of equally hate it oh yeah i i felt a bit of a fraud um and i found it sort of difficult to justify what i was earning which wasn't loads but but now i do absolutely loads and i earn nothing so it's kind of flipped the other side so was your writing uh the books that you got published was that was that a little escape for your own sanity as much yeah the first one was purely um it was something that i've been dallying around sort of thinking about for for ages um and i tried to sort of work out at some point i think it was probably eight years from coming up with the idea which you know we call it an idea the idea was to tell people how to use apostrophes yeah and then prefix it every time you mentioned apostrophes just prefix it with the word [ __ ] and from coming up with that it took me probably eight years to start writing about it oh no five years now now you're fitting into the podcast that's how we roll around here that's good eight years it's pretty quick though it is isn't it yeah imagine getting something written in just eight years um no but yeah i listen to the podcast and so much of what you say is like absolutely spot on because it is that sort of procrastination of going anything to put it off you know house was immaculate clothes yeah and it cleaned ironed everything because you know it's just a fear isn't it it's just absolutely terrified that you might write something terrible or you might write something really good you know there's sort of two sides to that interestingly though sy you voluntarily moved away from writing having written two successful books you effectively got a foothold in the industry um and most you know most writers would not have let that go you know they'd want to keep writing i'm thinking you don't see yourself as a writer i think when if we go way way back to like university years and then uh we had to team up we had to be you know art director copywriter to go into advertising the guy that i worked with his english wasn't great i had done english a level so i went i'll do the words because someone they said you have to be the copyright you have to have a job title so that was how it was split up and from there not but i've i've always i think sort of see myself as someone who just likes ideas whether they're sort of good bad stupid funny um that's why i got into the industry was just that there's this sort of the fun side of it and whether that was a visual gag whether it was a verbal gag the writing i was always writing headlines to start off with and then when i went freelance then headlines turned into i guess body copy body copy turned into paragraphs or or brochures or you know the maga brochure whatever it is um and then that eventually developed into books but i think because you can distill the the idea for the book down into that sort of simple format say you write a book about apostrophes it's uh you know always prefixed by the word [ __ ] then that's the nugget that everyone talks about in adeland where you know that's the little gold nugget the gem of the idea that that works across and and i do genuinely think that from there on i didn't really do much else and anyone i think with it with a who in the writing sort of industry could have taken that idea and done their own version and it would have been equally successful but i suppose that first that first thought process which sort of built on a truth that apostrophes are really important but really like frustrating at the same time that that platform would have allowed anyone to write it i think you're being a little bit modest i can think of an awful lot of people i've met in the industry that couldn't i've turned it into a good book no exactly yeah and it is a good book by the way thank you both thank you i should say yes it's very kind of easy i highly recommend and simon do you still write then i was surprised there wasn't a third book on the horizon about um swearing well that i think that'll be interesting the icon um they're keen to write a third book but it's a kind of it's a difficult because i've made a book which i thought was relevant to swearing because it sort of perfectly captured the frustration and love hate uh relationship about uh grammar and then apostrophes in particular so i think it was it was kind of warranted there i think everyone kind of got the joke yeah with manners i did feel at times like i was trying to be the trendy uncle who was talking to his nephew's nieces and go oh yeah i i use swear words yeah that's really yeah and it did make me cringe a little bit and i tried different versions where it had it had like a rule for the swearing like i only swear i don't know when it uh in a chapter title or uh or something that didn't work either but i would like to see a third book that's just called something like rather rude words and it doesn't contain any swearing whatsoever but completely discusses swearing to some degree that would be good it would be certainly be better than my niece's suggestion because when i said that i was going into teaching she said oh yeah so you could write a book called [ __ ] children that's the one the one where it really doesn't work but yeah the swearing things is a sort of an awkward one and and like john said i'm not a sweary person there was a point when i was writing manners that i didn't like typing [ __ ] good manners out when i was emailing the drafts and things over to the the publishers so i decided to abbreviate it to fgm and it wasn't until she emailed back and said sorry have you checked the acronym for fgm which stands for female genital musculation which i had no idea of yeah and she said yeah if you could you can just use the swear words that's fine because it's making the girls feel like it's probably better probably better if you use the really bad swear words going back to apostrophes i think you know the interesting thing about that was how it sort of snowballed so it took i you know came up the idea and i do genuinely think someone would have done a version it would have been funny it would have been different but it still would have been a version of that idea which would have been good and and and then from then on i just got lucky but you do sort of make your own luck yeah absolutely when i eventually got around to writing it i then sent it to three or four friends and they kind of went it's good site you know i sent it to my sister and a couple other friends i sent it to dave simpson who used to be at love with me in in manchester but had since set up his own agency and he said um he said this good if you want to we can put we can help you get it printed and we can do you a we can do you like 500 copies or something like that if you can cover the cost of it at a at a would you call it a base rate you know no markup so that cost i think it cost about 2 000 pounds um and obviously there's all this sort of the creative um input that you know they had to typeset it and design it and and and do all that there was huge amounts it's very beautiful as well i've got the original version of that version complete with spelling mistakes there's a couple of complete spelling mistakes but it is a very lovely thing thank you thank you um but so dave prince we had 500 copies and then we set up a like an uh like an etsy website or you know where i could sell it through paypal and that and then i so i gave as many as i could out to sort of call people who i thought would like it loads of my designer friends because initially it was a it was a mailer you know for me to send out to people to get business as a freelance writer yeah that was the idea it just it was instead of i guess your mailers that you get that people send out are here's my work that i've done in the past um here's an advert that i did for you know nike or or umbro or something like that and i thought actually here's something that people will keep hold of and have on their desk for for years rather than look at it and then scramble up or delete it um i was going to say how long before it got picked up by a publisher well that was um i sent it out to quite a few people and they were like design creative directors and things like that who um i think just looked at it they looked at the embossing they looked at the cover and they come oh it's a cute little book they looked at the tight faces and the and the the the leading and the the way that it was set and and they were they there was a you know a lot of them emailed back which is great and said this is fantastic well done um but i don't think any of them actually read it um or if they did read it then they weren't in a sort of position to go actually say what you've done you've missed out they had no grammatical kind of uh you know there was there's no education there from them you know there was no knowledge in terms of what i'd written whether it's correct because i just made it i didn't make it up but i cobbled together bits of what lynne trusted said with bits of what the um uh what style guide said and and i kind of covered and tried to make sense of it all but no one had actually said yes this is right or wrong there was a guy at the guardian called david marsh and he was there he's their head of um editor or their style guide and he had his own blog and i think i looked it up and he had a lot of swearing in it so i found out i got his email address and i sent him a sort of cryptic email that said oh hi david i love your blog and um and then knowing full well that he was sweary and like grandma i said i've written a book on grammar um it's uh it's got a bit of swearing in it uh are you interested in having a read and he said oh yeah so he sent me his address and i sent her over and then it was probably three or four weeks before i heard back and i got this email that said simon just read your book in the bath i don't know why it was in the bath but you know it's um it's [ __ ] brilliant uh i'm gonna write about it on my blog and i was like that that was the moment i think where i was actually you know i welled up a little bit yeah and i thought that's that's the praise that i was looking for that's someone who knows what they're talking about rather than saying it looks beautiful that was that was that was the kind of the credibility and then the words were actually good as well yeah then it made it because i said i had i'd taken little bit so you're talking about a mission or you're talking about possessives there was a lot of kind of gray area that i had sort of taken some liberties on and and tried to use an education the boundaries of grammar as we know it is what you mean isn't it so this is the boundaries are fluid yeah i i think it is a school textbook now isn't it simon they're in some schools in uh in london i believe yeah they're trying to i wanted to do a kids version because i thought you know if you remove the swearing i still think that's what what would you call it a [ __ ] apostrophe for kids flipping apostrophes really bad apostles nasty apostrophe but you know the other side of it was the examples given were sort of meant to be topical but i read it last night and i couldn't remember any of the topics that i was supposedly basically relating to at the time there's jeremy clarkson i think but anyway david marsh he said he was going to write about on his blog and i didn't know if it was going to be like a little mention to say by the way you know so uh 500 words and then 10 words at the end that said by the way that here's this book that someone's written that's quite funny um if he didn't he he wrote his whole you know five six hundred words on the book and you know then i was like [ __ ] this is you know that was that was a sort of because of his um you know the following that he had the people who read his blog who were all into punctuation all into grammar and you know and inserted you know didn't mind a bit of swearing they used that was like right in the sort of the center of the of the wasps nest or hornets depending on which one you was more scared of that suddenly exploded from there and i had like little messages from friends saying great stuff you know great work i've seen you on on david's blog and things and then that that sold all the copies that i had and then another run of 500. you were sending these out like one at a time weren't you simon and uh like yeah yeah your own little little little little little little little and i were there and taking them down to the posters and that must have been quite like the smallest amazon in the world uh yeah we had a little production line going where where everything is by hand because i can't deal with sort of automated systems i'm not so i just had to take them right there look at their email that sort of came through from that pinged in from paypal and then i'd write their address out on it i i think i spent longer because for a while i just i wanted to dedicate each one because i'm so grateful that someone had wanted to buy my book that i wrote i dedicated each one i sort of scribbled in it did you ever get any uh any customers writing or emailing back saying um sorry would you mind sending me one without writing it you've written in the front could you actually send me this one that's what i ordered somebody that's been writing this one i think to start off there were a few where i was nervous and i think i wrote on a slip and then tucked it in in case they didn't chicken down and they could choose to stick that in or not i can remove it if they want yeah so after after the um the second sort of batch of 500 had sold out then that was when someone from icon uh got in contact and said we'd like to publish this for you and i had no idea of contracts and um you know rates and um you know you were probably just thinking [ __ ] if this goes big i'm going to be posting out books for the rest of my life

i was more suspicious because i guess it had seen a little bit of success and i was like i don't know who these people are so you do a little bit of research we've been watching your career very carefully it's uh you know i was i was worried that yeah that that i was gonna sign something and they would make millions or i don't know i did i had a few moments as funny as listening to your podcasts um i didn't but the jonathan ross uh thing you know that that's where you sort of end up on on the couch with rossi um and i did have a not a couple of moments thinking about it i was on the bbc so this is in my dream not actually in real life it was always uh bill from bbc breakfast is it on the red sofa right yeah that was my kind of like benchmark of have i made it and i suppose i haven't so but icon picked it up they said we're gonna publish it um we signed the contracts and things like that uh and then what was really what was really exciting was they initially said we're gonna do 5000 as a as a starting batch and we're going to launch it on november 14th and then i think it was a month or so before that they went we've taken it to a few shows and we're gonna do ten thousand i said okay that's really good great that's something you know i had no idea what these numbers meant other than it's good it's going upwards um and then a couple of weeks later they went that's going to go 15 000 and then it went to 20 000. i was like okay so it's like before you know that was that again was really enjoyable just to go through that process of going wow this is grand like people want to read this and they're not saying it's crap and i have to ask you this question simon because there aren't many people i can ask what what does that equate to in terms of money or ego or like drugs or uh i mean are you are you filthy rich now are you like a millionaire well i think that the 20 000 books sounds like a lot well that was it i mean apostrophes apostrophes sold 50 000 now i think or just coming up to 60. um and manos has done done a reasonable batch as well but but not as many but i think the thing that's relevant to this podcast in particular was that i've i mean that sold well for me and the publicity that it generated seemed really really big and i got enough to have and i still do get like a little royalties check that comes through every now and again and and it's decent but it's you know here's a nice holiday once a year uh you know it it's um it's in the in the thousands but it you know apostrophes in particular now is sort of drop right off and you know i think the last one of the last royalties the the mid-summer one i get a check so twice a year and then one in the middle of the summer it was like 76 pounds or something like that because because no one numbered it so it it it peaks around christmas because it's one of those um one of those books yeah yeah it's a good question where did where exactly did you go on holiday for to my mum and dad's nice that's nice that's a nice end to that but so but the point is i think so i with the success that i've had with that or the the amount that it sold and then the feedback that i got from that the money that i made from it i think it made me realize that i couldn't do this as a full-time job i'd find it so stressful if i was in order which bit of it would you find stressful the pressure of ideas or the or the time yeah relying on the paycheck and the pressure of trying to write something that people buy is really difficult because it's completely different from from writing something that you want to read and and sometimes the two cross yes um yeah yeah but i think if i had to constantly come up and constantly think about things that i thought people wanted to buy because there's a paycheck because there was a mortgage because of all those things then i i i wouldn't have well i i i it's not the reason you wrote the book in the first place is it you know you didn't write it to make cash out no it is accidental and that's why when it came to the second book i found it so difficult because all of a sudden you know tricky second album and things like that but all of a sudden i had this thing where i was like right i have to write something that is funny now or that people want to read and that that stops you sort of straight away because you write a sentence and then you go well yeah but they're not you try and think of every single grand not going to like that so dad might find that funny and you try you rationalize or post every word every sentence and then you stop writing it's like a comedian at a party being asked like pushed into the middle of the room and being asked to tell some jokes go on then make us laugh say something funny so that's what i so i think i've got a lot of admiration for a huge amount of admiration for people who do it as a job because you know i had the luxury of one writing a book that wasn't meant to be successful it was just meant to be to go from a word document into a leaflet into a book that was only going to sell 500 which suddenly sort of snowballed and got bigger and bigger then the second one you know we had had some time to write it and i had the support i had the everything was sort of set up you know if i had to sit down and just write again and again and again i'd i think i'd just be exhausted what what was your um writing process uh if you had a way of doing it what was what was your what's your modus operandi well i suppose i mean because because both books are non-fiction it made it quite easy to set up a structure for it so for example with apostrophes it was fairly straightforward because i had to go right what are the rules emission possession and then i could find little subsections for each of those so the kind of yeah you know i needed it needed an introduction it needed maybe let's do a little history about apostrophes just to show that i can use wikipedia or something and and it sort of categorized it all that all the sections and the um chapters kind of fell out of that which made it very easy to at least have a have a backbone a structure to it so i was like right i need to do this before the end of the week or i need to finish this chapter on yeah false possessives yeah so you had a clear brief yeah yeah i mean it it took a lot of time researching and going thing and finding oh what's this about garen's and then someone said oh you need to put in about garen's i still don't know what garens are but

um talk to me about garrett garrens garen's i'm googling it google it now google it then we can go oh yeah yeah we'll add something in afterwards yes the garens oh yeah the same with um with manners was was that i kind of put together very quickly a structure which was okay so we're going to do an introduction we're going to do a history we're going to do some basics like uh uh here's the sort of 10 rules that people live by and then from there i was like right let's do um transport let's do out and about let's do restaurants let's do neighbors so i created so you did all that framework up front you had your candy chat yes yeah so they and then you'd fill in the gaps and think hang things off them yeah they asked for i think i was meant to write two chapters as a sort of as a go ahead yeah i wrote i know wrote one but you did actually plan it i did but i got myself into it into a bit of a pickle because i was desperate to get it done and and talking at deadlines and things like that that it got to a point so it was around about when would it have been i think it i put it off and put it off it off i had one chapter done which was about they said they wanted 40 000 words and i had done three maybe not three words

and so it got to christmas that's fine i'll do something over christmas if i do well we've got the whole christmas stuff haven't we so i'll probably do i could probably get four or five thousand done at least over christmas and the deadline was in i think it was end of february and then that's going to put me back on track and and then up the moment and it got to things just went and built up and built up and the word count my daily word count that was required went from okay well now i need to do to hit 40 000 words i need to do 200 words a day and then it went to 500 words a day and then a thousand words a day including the weekends um and in the end i rationalized i went right well there's potential that this book could supplement my income so you know ditch all your other work i went over to scarborough and i sat there and i went i drove over on friday night um bought myself a pack of rollies on the way over because you know i'm a writer and and i sat in the flat in scarborough and stared out there wasn't anything else for me to do other than sit and write and research and that snowballed a lot i i still miss my deadline but i was on about 36 000 words by then so they were they were kind of happy and and my editor um uh ellen conlon was brilliant she's just you know she then started to give feedback to me and drip feed through so i could write the remaining chapters whilst still you know sort of working on the book it's amazing what you can do isn't it when there's no kids around and you really can get quite yeah it was it was focused and and i guess that's the kind of i'm i'm all i need that pressure of deadline to go actually i'm i'm going to be in a lot of pain unless i start now and unless i force myself you know that that it's a it's a sort of physical punch start rather than uh than a kind of emotional okay come on let's go coffee ready and then you start typing um i need that kind of smack on the back of the hedge so yeah just do it okay did you did you enjoy the process with apostrophes i did with manners i didn't because i think i felt like i had more to prove and i was constantly um i was constantly writing reviews in my head of every sentence that i wrote i suppose because the yeah this is about manners which is um you know i said a controversial thing but there's always two sides it's open to interpretation isn't it yeah yeah less so than some grammatical yeah precisely that um and i think that made me really worry because whenever i try to be as open-minded as possible so whenever i was saying here's how you should behave there was a voice in my head saying yeah but that could they could have happened you know talking about driving you know people drive like [ __ ] for a reason sometimes it's because they're a [ __ ] sometimes it's because i know they've got a medical emergency or whatever it is that they've got a um they need to rush to see a loved one who's kind of dying in hospital you know there are reasons for people behaving like this so i was constantly writing reviews and you know in my head of people reading the words that i was trying to type and just saying griffin is constantly confused by it you know just just torturing gives him the right yeah yeah if i choose not to wear trousers i shall not wear trousers despite what mr griffin says how how are you with reviews when you uh i'm guessing i don't think you've actually i couldn't i couldn't i had a quick look and i tried to find some bad reviews but i couldn't actually find any but you do you read all your reviews good and bad or you uh i do and that the thing that's really horrible is that you believe the bad ones and and i assume that the the good ones are probably from a friend that i can't remember or or that they they were just having a i always make an excuse for the people who who give me a decent review and then i believe that the person who gives me a one star knows exactly what they're talking about and that's a horrible thing to do but i do it's it's a sort of an obsession um and it's not healthy it's really difficult not to do it you can't not look at them though can you i think it's almost no i think i could john shall i read out some of the really bad reviews dude there's one there's one who's he there's a guy who gave me a one star a seriously overpriced one that loses its humor all too quickly

yeah oh i have an interesting grammar and swear like the proverbial so a book of this title would i would have thought being a natural for me um it goes on to say it it isn't yeah it's it's fair enough he's got a good point oh this is good this i'm sorry that's this has been superseded this is now my favorite review ebook uh jay hill one star offensive title that's the title of his review not bought it not read it i can swear with the best but i object to obscenities being used in a book title it's not clever it's not trendy it's just offensive that's that's me as well as the book is not trendy i have again with those sorts of people you go right well i'm gonna because they're they're like a verified purchase or that they're a and no because he's not he's literally said he's not bought the book and refuses to do so but then you go all right well i wonder what else mr hill has reviewed so you look and you find out well you know i wonder he seems quite forthright and he's quite convinced about that so i wonder what else and you'll i'll start reading his reviews over like a a sandwich toaster that he's also reviewing he's just a negative reviewer when you read all these positive things about his holiday in spain was good the toaster was good yeah he loves this product no no it's just it's just your pocky just my book are you tempted to write another book or not simon it sounds like you've had a kind of a mixed experience of positive negatives all kinds of yeah in the future not maybe not right now but yeah i was going to ask you whether you fancied uh have you ever have you got a fiction i think i would like to write again um definitely and and i was chatting to icon the the uh chairman there phillip cottrell has you know he said he's keen to do like a third a third book whether it's you know it got a swerve in the title i don't know i'd like to see something about cricket i suppose you've got to you've got to write about something that you believe in and you enjoy and and cricket's definitely one um i'd like to write fiction but i don't know if i could i mean that's why i mean john talking before about i was always so jealous of you when you when you know you're saying off dad's got a draft of my book and he's he's giving it a read and you said it's like 70 000 words i was like christ you know that i couldn't do that i think well and i haven't um you know i kind of it was [ __ ] though so but it's done there isn't it

i just think i've been so lucky with the first two that the fear i suppose like like the podcast you go i've got 100 you know 100 listeners then it goes to 50 and then and i don't i'm terrified that that i go back down you know from so apostrophe sold 60 000 and then man has sold that amount and then then i end up in like five books time where i've got eight people have have bought it and i suppose that fear is there with people listening literally tens of people listening to this and some of them will be tearing their hair out thinking you've got all these you've got the contacts with the publishers yeah you've got a kind of a proven what you don't know to be fair is the time yeah very much so yeah i've got i've got there's all time but i think spending hours and hours writing really few pupils really good feedback for people who didn't maybe take that to the next level and do the same as you did with your book and kind of get each report printed out in a unique bespoke kind of leather embossed case for them then they'd read the reviews okay i thought you went just put some swearing in my in my feedback you [ __ ] useless how dare you put the [ __ ] in are any of your students actually aware of your rightly past do they know who you are no i thought some of the year nines might have googled me by now and kind of just because there seems to be a lot of hatred built up there between us and i thought that the natural step is to do a bit of stalking online but i don't think they have if they have then that then they haven't um then they haven't mentioned it yeah what were you like at school by the way sorry because i have a theory that creative types that tend to divide teachers in quite an extreme way as in they either really really like you or they you know or you really piss them off i think if you're i think if you're creative in any way you sort of you need an outlet don't you and a classroom provides as good an audience as any i think that can really upset you i think i was distinctly average i think uh everything uh probably apart from art um and then maybe one or two sports i was kind of okay at hockey um i think i thought at the time that i was a lot cleverer and and i know a lot more popular or and then looking back i think i was just a bit of an odd you know okay middle of the road sort of fairly averaging i enjoyed r and that and that was always a good fun but i don't think i was i was probably quite forgetting right so you didn't yeah you didn't set teachers left right no no not particularly apologies obviously if uh no you didn't have very good manners apart from the english teacher that time he jumped up in class and started shouting about [ __ ] apostles i mean mr spalding he was my english teacher he he died a few years back but i i suppose yeah he he was sort of my inspiration he was this uh uh really amazing uh scott who was smaller than all of us as i remember but wore these sort of enormous suits i don't know kind of how they how he'd hang on with these enormous shoulder pads and he used to you know used to swear and all the lessons he was you know so the cool teacher but he was he was just really fascinating and great teacher to have around um but but i never i suppose even though i've been writing like from the time that i left university at the age of 22 23 and then i went into advertising i was a copywriter there i've never really thought and even through the books i've never thought of myself as a writer even though it's been my job which is maybe why i quit my job and then train to be a teacher so i can say i'm a teacher you know i feel a lot more comfortable with something yeah and i suppose when you're a copywriter that when you say what you do for a living or someone asks you what you do for a living you say i'm a copywriter and sometimes i try to drop the copy or just like cough over the copy bit so that they they might just hear writer and then they'd go oh have you written have you written anything i might have read well i wrote a brochure for silver cross in 2006. do you have a baby in 2006 you might have read something i do feel pretty lucky that it's been that i've i've kind of not wanted to be a writer and and i'm in a position where i've kind of lucked out and and had two books published which people work for years and years and years to to have that privilege and then i've gone yeah no thank you like the opposite of what we've been talking about you failed not to be a writer i try

it forced itself on me well thank you so much for coming and talking to us it's been lovely talking to you good luck with your third book in 20 years time yeah thanks and and the podcast is excellent and i'm sure will result i mean it already is bringing uh amazing results from uh you getting you writing already and i think it's it's a very interesting topic and and you speak the truth you know that's what it's all about thank you very much thanks buddy thanks jens

sorry you couldn't join in with that buddy we had to tie you to a chair and put some gaffer tape over yourself right i deserve it you're right but it was it was a super interesting journey of simons wasn't how he kind of accidentally fell into it i kind of did it and then it just kind of like sort of snowballed a bit and he's like oh oh no what's happening here oh no i've been published oh no i'm running i'm writing another one that a little bit just a little bit annoying it is a bit annoying isn't it i imagine there's a few people out there listening thinking i've been trying for years to do this with my lifelong dream and someone just accidentally writes a book and gets it bloody published and then another one and then goes oh do you know what can't be bothered to do anymore and becomes a teacher which isn't exactly the easiest job in the world no no that's true but uh still bloody people just being good at stuff it is irritating it is sorry sorry if you're listening you were saying before the interview betty that you you sometimes get annoyed by bad grammar will you talk grammar well cause i i don't think no there wasn't a lot of time spent on grammar no i do no no i don't think so i don't remember an awful lot of being taught it's weird i find this when you speak to somebody who uh learnt english as a second language they know a hell of a lot more about the english language than we do and they're all about participles and tenses and that's right they understand the structure of the language yeah exactly and i'm sort of going i don't know any of this and they've sort of learned and i think that's weird i just i maybe i wasn't there that week i don't know but i don't remember a lesson where i was taught about all of these things conjugation and bloody yeah i definitely don't think it was a big part of our syllabus and i could be wrong but i really don't remember like our my kids were taught so much about i don't know they know about the parts of the sentence you know they know about clauses and stuff like that i have absolutely no idea i had to look it all up yeah when they were coming home i could never get my head around it no and i mean i did english language you did a degree in it of course yeah yeah so you should have learned a bit about it tom really in three years at university entire module section whatever that was grammar and i just thought i just stopped going it was just it was awful how did you deal with that tom well i just stopped um


and um it was just awful it was like german i wanted to do english language for the love of language and using language and stuff and just turn it into this cold science of building blocks

you did it for the love of language and then when you learned about what the language is about you went you know what i don't i don't like this anymore but i am genuinely a big believer in the fluidity of language and the people that get with the brew up the back side they go oh you can't do that's wrong oh no it should be this after that or oh you know you should say whom there to whom they're idiots they don't understand how language works how language has evolved over the years and will continue to do so and how recent the idea of putting all these rules set in stone and grammar actually is yeah in terms of language it's just a very recent last two or three hundred years really where of where things had to become formalized and there were some rules right kind of the victorians got it really like it has to be like this and then they they'd cast back to these kind of ideas of latin as if it was a pure kind of form of grammar and it's not really it's what people languages is a spoken thing yeah that people use and it changes it is interesting isn't it because when you write something it is different to speaking it's different to dialogue for obvious reasons because yeah you're you know it's obviously completely one-sided apart from anything else you don't get the other person saying uh sorry could you just clarify what you're on about because i don't i don't really get it you actually have to make it like as clear as possible don't you and if that is you know if the best way to do that is to break some of the rules then that is the best thing to do it's like if you like grammatically i think it's not quite it's not right to say something like um it's him and point your finger i think it's grammatically right to say uh it is he for example right yeah but you'd never say that yeah like in real life and there's so many examples of stuff like that you'd never actually say unless you want everyone around you to immediately immediately be able to identify that you're a wanker exactly it's just here okay but it's true because i mean we've we've worked a lot in the sort of spoken word and it is very different to the written word i remember writing an ad years ago for a college or a university or something um and you know sometimes you the order of the words as you write them for radio is just about if if they sound good you don't mean if it's got the right sort of yeah not necessarily if it's the right grammatical way of putting it and i did this um thing and it was a bit like you know the speech in train spotting where it's choose life choose this choose choose a big [ __ ] television set um and i kind of written it like that obviously without the swearing because it was an advert um and it sort of it came back from the person in charge of signing off saying yes grammatically the list shouldn't be in this order we should put it this way around and i was trying to explain that no because it's the it's the pattern it's the rhythm of the list as it's being read out it's this and it's this and it's this this this that that that um and yeah she just didn't get it one thing i've struggled in the past with is um i don't know why i have an issue with this i think it it was uh it was the the first book that i tried to write was about a guy who has a bit of depression because he was always like going to bed uh i really struggled with whether it was he lay down on the bed or he laid down on the bed or he lied down on the bed or he was lying down on the bed and i yeah i'm still not entirely sure i understand what the difference is between any of them well i go through that for a while and then i just write um he went to sleep yeah just rewrite it just yeah yeah there's some there's some classic uh uh like punctuation phrases aren't they or if you if you punctuate them differently they have entirely different meanings wasn't there one about uh capitalization as well where it's like uh he helped his uncle jack off a horse yeah yeah and all and also the all-time classic a woman without her man is nothing but with a colon and a coma becomes a woman without her man is nothing ah yeah see yeah this one there was one there was a sign that used to be i don't know if i mentioned this before a sign in the pub i used to go into as a teenager when i started doing food there was a handwritten sign that just said eat in or out

that was brilliant i love that but yes english is a fickle mistress it is a fickle mistress with which we are yet to get to grips you mean sorry dave do you mean with which yet we are to get to grips with yet yes sorry that is that is what i meant oh by the way by the way do you i know what a gerund is i looked it up oh yeah go on uh so this is the bit where tom fades me out and fades up the music

hang on bring me back tommy bring me back there must be must be one person at least who wants to know uh a gerund is uh it's a form of a verb that ends in that is used as a noun so for example her writing is good and obviously in that sentence the word writing uh is the gerund because writing is a verb but it's being used as a noun her writing the noun of her writing is good so that's a gerund there you go you learned something yeah brilliant that's um yeah let's submit that bit to the uh to the podcast awards

definitely definitely yeah infotainment infotainment talking of infotainment what infotainment have we got coming up in uh in our next episode our next episode is is slated as the conclusion to our nanowrimo rhino oh yeah it's going to be quite short isn't it i mean that may be slightly biased in who features in that more heavily than others um are you suggesting tom we'd probably need to come up with another idea we might need something else in that one but yeah do you know why i think we should just keep it a mystery just you know intrigue intriguing mystery that's that's nobody knows yeah but it's suspenseful we don't know we've got some we've got some great things coming up yeah so uh yeah which you won't want to miss yeah oh believe me you won't want to miss whatever it is definitely it's gonna happen definitely not making it up on the spot no let's just say we've got a lot coming up before the end of the year haven't we we've got some exciting things we really have just oh so exciting yes big interviews big spectaculars a look back at the year as a whole uh maybe even a pantomime so yeah there's a lot to uh a lot to stay tuned for to make sure i can't sorry dave i can't do it oh no there isn't i tried i tried not to say it and i did ever but i just i can't come on yeah the subscribe button it's behind you

where are the best episodes of this podcast they're behind you

oh no oh you know yeah um so yeah make sure you subscribe leave us oh wait i tell you what we had a nice review didn't we oh my god lovely review oh i like that one yeah it was like a dream review is what it was uh no it was lovely would you like me to read it yes please what a lovely thing that this person said whose name i'm currently looking up claire from america i was claire in america claire in america you know claire yeah in america she said she she gave us five stars i don't think we've ever had anything other than five stars uh she gave us five five stars and she sounded a bit conceited john didn't it well it's just the truth because it is fact okay just a fact uh and she wrote not even a writer and i love this podcast escape for a bit into the world of three blokes being funny about stuff mostly relating to writing or not there's something about this podcast that scoops you up entertains you and gently drops you back an hour later feeling smiley and they're lovely yeah that's nice isn't it isn't that nice if you want to review us please do you know you don't have to give us five stars but you'd be the only one who hasn't and tell your friends and drop us a line maybe a tweet or an email get in touch we'd love to hear from you but until then we should probably just say goodbye i reckon yeah goodbye bye everyone especially to you claire thanks claire

i remember reading i remember reading about this guy long long time ago the days of kings and queens and courts and all that where you weren't allowed to just go to the toilet uh if the king didn't say so it's quite a famous case like it was some lord or other and he didn't want to go and he held it for so long eventually his bladder burst

i'm laughing but that's i mean that is pretty tragic yeah way to go it's in there yeah and i believe that's where the phrase dying for episode i think it is

oh man

where's everybody gone

Simon Griffin Profile Photo

Simon Griffin

Simon Griffin is the founder of copywriting agency Hyperbolic ( and lives with his wife and two children in Leeds. He currently has no plans to learn how to touch type and can happily write whole paragraphs without realising he’s left caps lock on.