Pruning words - and my full-time job


"It should speak to the enthusiast and the novice."

There are some great points about journalistic criticism on the International Anthony Burgess Foundation blog by Observer arts editor Sarah Donaldson.

Her parting of the waters between cultural and academic criticism chimes with something I have often noticed: that the art of academic essay-filling is the opposite to the skill of well-pruned popular journalism. The wordcounts often race in different directions.

Alongside information on shiny new things, readers want validation of their own opinions when reading a review of the arts. They also want to be entertained, and her article is a useful reminder, perhaps, that style is perhaps as important as the substance.

You can judge whether I get this right in my own reviews: issue 23 of Electronic Sound has just come out. This edition leads with the Stranger Things soundtrack, and the first line of my regular column contains the word "sperm".

I've got a good excuse for linking to Sarah Donaldson's blog post. From next month, I will be events and operations droog at the Burgess Foundation. It'll be a job doing what I love with a fantastic venue and archive.

My new job also allows me more time to build my writing career which, for the past 18 years, has had to squeeze into the crannies of a full-time position. No longer. I'll be working part-time at home scribbling utter nonsense all over my computer screen. 

It'll be a big change. A new start. I'll need to be organised. It's okay because I've upgraded my yellow post-it notes to multi-coloured ones. That's pretty much all you need to be organised.

All of which leads me to an inevitable plug for the competition Sarah Donaldson is judging. If you want to enter the Observer / Anthony Burgess Prize for Arts Journalism, the link is here.