Diary

Video

20 August 2019 | Diary

Today I made a one-minute video to represent my book at the publisher’s sales conference. It’s one of those things that shouldn’t–mustn’t!–take much time but inevitably does.

No matter how strict you are when going into the job–“I will not spend more than two hours on this”–it was always bound to devour the whole day.

It starts with the discovery that you’re out of practice at speaking to a camera or ad-libbing at all and so it takes you about thirty takes to get it right, even though all you’re doing is saying “Hi, it’s me, and here’s what my latest book is about.” Why is that so difficult? It wouldn’t be hard if you were explaining it to someone in the pub, so why is it such a rotten thing to get right when you’re on your own in a room with a recording device?

A good recording is ruined because you realise there’s a moth on your glasses or that a lamp in another room casts a weird glow against a wall and onto your face, making you look like you’re telling a campfire ghost story. Oh, and the Swiss cheese plant you’ve been using for background colour seems uncannily to be doing the bunny-ears thing behind your head.

After three or four hours, you finally have some serviceable footage. But then you need to edit it for time and quality. You cut the “ums” and “erms” and a bit where you nervously swallow, giving the game away that you’re not a professional speaker at all but some sort of carbon-based creature susceptible to peristalsis who probably even has an entire digestive system and lives with all the disgraces such a thing would suggest.

Somehow, all of your pruning and worrying makes things worse and your image on the screen begins to look like a glitching Max Headroom and you just have to start again.

After a while, you’re so tired of looking at your own mouth that it’s giving you the creeps. Is that even a mouth? Is that what people look at when you’re facing them? It’s not so much the kissing and pontificating vehicle you’d always imagined was on the front of your head but some sort of fissure, like the kind of thing you’d see on a fluke worm or a nematode.

The moon is rising but you press on regardless and emails are coming in to ask where the heck your video is and you idly consider attending the the sales conference in person so that you could just explain yourself.

Finally — finally! — you get something together that looks like a passable sales video. It’s twenty seconds too long but sod it you’re only human and your dinner’s going cold.

You set the thing to export in the highest available resolution, not because you’re mad for resolution or anything but because you imagine that’s what a professional video spod would do. In truth, you don’t know what “resolution” even is aside from that a high one is how the Marvel Cinematic Universe is presented and so that’s probably what people expect to see, right?

While you’re eating dinner, you’re wondering all the while if the export has finished yet and also how you’ll beam such a monstrously large file into a conference room in Munich anyway.

You go and check on it–tentatively tapping the track-pad to wake the screen up without accidentally erasing everything–and then, when the video masterpiece fades into life, you see it:

The basket of laundry in the background.

Fuck. Everything.



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