Friday, March 04, 2011

The School of Hard Knocks

I didn’t go to university and get to read English. I didn’t even leave school with any qualifications, as the careers bloke advised me to get a trade, which I (almost) did, signing up for the catering course at Westminster College, as part of my apprenticeship to become a chef. None of this came in to play as I (un/fortunately) ended up going to night school to get a couple of ‘O’ levels and then on to art school.
            I recently realised that I did my real learning in public, by making films and then writing books, such as the UCB or SK. I dug deep and put 100% of everything I ever had into these projects and to this day believe totally in them. But that is not to say that they have their short-comings, but like I just said, I’m doing my learning in public.
            Three years on and I’ve just read an academic-ish deconstruction of the Urban Cookbook and even though it was a little critical, harsh even, it was totally spot-on. But you have to remember that at the time I was writing it I was in the trenches, and couldn’t see over the parapet into the wider picture, and so I was never going to create anything other than what you see before you on Amazon. Reading the reviews now makes me want to step it up and come correct, as it were. I don’t want to be all ‘hip-hop eyes and cool guy aspirations’ to quote the review I mention before. The thought of this actually makes me cringe, but back then I guess it was bit of a smokescreen to cover up my inadequacies and lack of education. Style over substance and all that jazz.
            Nowadays I just want to do good work and not let the 40,000 or so people who’ve bought my books around the world, down. I just want to do good and get my grades up at the school of hard knocks. I have to stay focussed and remember why Thames&Hudson, HarperCollins, Edel, and the Overlook Press published my work in the first place.

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