Thank you so much for agreeing to be a part of The Writing Desk Blog.
Now, imagine I’m about to introduce you to an auditorium, filled with the smiling faces of folks fuelled by caffeine and an eagerness to learn. What would I say?
“Hello everyone, I’d like to introduce…
Charlie Pears-Wallace. I’m a Marketing and Comms bod (don’t like ‘consultant’. Got ‘strategist’ on my LinkedIn, but don’t like that either. Make of that what you will). I deal with everything around the (digital) written word including social media, web copy, newsletters and blogs (just don’t ask me about Ads… Unless you’d like me to accidentally blow your budget)
Here’s the part where we’d sit down and try and look comfortable next to the microphones. Are you sitting comfortably? Then let’s begin…
Can you name the business book that’s always on your desk? (I’m talking about the one that’s covered in pencil marks, coffee stains and has turned down corners…)
Content Design by Sarah Winters. It informs so much of my writing these days.
What’s your all-time favourite advertising campaign?
There are two. One is the Food Standards Agency ad from years ago where the turkey beats up the man in his living room at Christmas. The other is the Jaffa Cakes ad ‘Full moon! Half moon’ etc. I think about it every time I eat a Jaffa Cake (regularly).
“Everyone has a book in them…” Or so the saying goes. What do you think/know/believe is the secret to good writing?
The importance of brevity (quite comical since I chat so much).
If you were just starting out, what advice would you give yourself? Which book or books would you read first?
‘To be Clear’ by Philip Collins is a great book. And validated my hatred of the word ‘onboarding’.
I also like ’24 Assets’ by Daniel Priestley- it keeps me focused on the bigger picture.
Silence? Radio? Or music while you work?
I vary. Love a bit of Ken Bruce (soon to be RIP), big 6 Music fan too. But I listen to French radio mostly. I speak it fluently (well, ish), and listening to the radio keeps my standard up.
What are your top three novels of all time – and why?
Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason- I just read this and thought it was magnificent.
Starter for 10 by David Nicholls. His description of the posh family is hysterical. I went to see him at a talk and was completely in-love with him (my true answer is probably ‘One Day’, but that’s a bit basic isn’t it. It made me cry buckets, and a book has never done that. I love everything he’s written really)
Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts. It’s beautiful. I love novels based in India- they fascinate me.
What’s the best thing you’ve ever written? Why did it rock your world?
My last piece of writing is always the best I’ve written- I’m learning all the time (barf). But I will say that I was ridiculously proud of the last ever essay I submitted at university. I did cultural studies, which I LOVED, but it was hard. But everything came together for this last essay- it was about the importance of fairytales- and I got a first for it. I was delighted.
What’s the last thing you bought? And yes, that packet of chewing gum counts.
‘Talk: the science of conversation’ by Elisabeth Stokoe.
Who was your teenage crush?
When The OC was on I couldn’t choose between Ryan, Seth, or Sandy. I fancied the entire male counterpart of the family.
Can you describe the best meal you’ve ever eaten?
I used to work in an Italian restaurant. For our Christmas party, one of the managers would cook for us (he was a phenomenal cook) and he made me the best risotto I’ve ever eaten- it was with langoustines.
What’s your favourite tipple? Is it wine, beer – a cask-aged malt?
GIN. Though I don’t drink much these days- I can’t handle the angst.
If I were to give you a private jet, David Attenborough as a tour guide and a month off work – all expenses paid – where would you go and what or who would you write about – and why?
I’d be a bit worried about taking David Attenborough with me on holiday- I like to relax, and I would feel pressure to ask him clever questions?! So if it’s ok, I’ll have a lovely cup of tea with him in Betty’s in Harrogate or something. I’d write about what he chose, what was his favourite thing to eat, what his views were on the food chain etc. Then I’d take a private jet to Malaysian islands and chill out for a bit.
What’s in your pockets?
Tissues, Ferraro Rocher wrapper, Kirby grips
Pen and ink, pencil and paper or keyboard and screen? What’s your writing style?
Depends. Business: keyboard. Journaling (don’t hate me): pencil (I’m left-handed. Pens are rarely my friend)
Do you read any blogs or magazines about writing? (And I mean read, not just subscribe to and delete/leave on your desk and recycle?)
Big fan of the Nick Parker blog.
Tea – or coffee? What’s your poison?
I like a coffee, but tea is my poison really. The first cup of tea of the day is heavenly.
Do you have a favourite cup or mug? Can you describe it?
That’s like asking me to describe my favourite child! I LOVE mugs and have to stop myself buying them. Morrison’s is surprisingly great for mugs. Also, if I’m feeling fancy, I’ll have a look at Anthropologie mugs.
What was your most adored children’s book? And character?
Your favourite word?
Rest. Or sunshine.
Your most loathed word? (You know, the one that makes you shudder and say “Ew!”?)
As I mentioned above ‘Onboarding’. It makes me angry just thinking about it. I also dislike the word ‘boring’, because that’s exactly what it is. I don’t really have any ‘ew’ words. Actually ‘mottled’ is pretty horrible- you can have that one.
Where can we find you? – Browsing online or lost in the aisles of a bookstore?
Both! Books are something I never feel guilty about buying.
Favourite song lyric of all time? And why?
‘Well I’ve never prayed but tonight I’m on my knees’. Richard Ashcroft evokes despair like no one else.
Name the artist who is guaranteed to get you up on the dance floor.
Chic! Or Lady Gaga.
Do you have any strange writing rituals you’d like to share with us?
I don’t do it so much now. But when I first came back from my year abroad, because I’d been speaking French so much, I’d write slightly weird English. So I’d have to translate sentences into French to check what sentence structure I was using (mental isn’t it?).
What are you working on today? What’s in the pipeline?
I’m working on some Job/ user profiles, and I’m tidying up a Google My Business. I’ve potentially got more charity work in the pipeline- and a new client who keeps threatening to write me a brief.
Can you describe the last photograph you took?
Always, always my dog. I have approximately 40,000 photos of her on my phone.
What piece of advice really changed you as a writer?
I used Hemmingway a lot when I was first starting out, and I realised how often my sentences were far too long.
What was the last thing you wrote that had nothing to do with your job?
It’s always been drummed into me to put good things in writing, and to say bad things in person. So I always write nice google reviews when I’ve had a good experience somewhere.
If I’m complaining about something, I’ll always address it in person. But if they aren’t very forthcoming, I will GO TO GOOGLE REVIEWS TOWN.
What’s your favourite quote about the process of writing?
The one which comes to mind isn’t *strictly* about writing, but I think it was Emily Dickinson who used to describe herself as ‘scattered, various and gregarious’. This is how I would describe my first draft of anything… and let’s face it, myself.
Who is your favourite Mad Man – or Woman?
See above- it has to be Emily Dickinson.
Can you name your favourite film – and tell us why you love it?
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. I think it’s utterly beautiful. They found each other anyway! And the soundtrack is magic.
Which book or books is/are by your bed today?
Who was or is your greatest teacher?
At school, I’d go Mr. Gaffney. He told me that before you live in France, the most important word to learn is ‘une grève’, which is a strike. I didn’t really understand it until I lived there and realised strikes happen ALL THE TIME.
I worked with a marketing consultant in my last job and Sibh was hugely inspiring. She opened my eyes to the importance of data. And mailing lists.
My present day teacher is probably Paul, my client. He is endlessly encouraging, and makes me tackle things I don’t like, like price increases. He’s like my mentor.
Who is your favourite artist?
I saw an amazing exhibition about trees in the art museum in Lille last year. There was a black and white tree painting by a British Artist called Mat Collishaw. I couldn’t take my eyes off it. It was like nothing else I’ve seen before.
Where do you like to work best – is it at a desk, in an office or in a coffee shop? And would you send us a picture of where the magic happens?
My desk is upstairs. What isn’t in the photo is the wee side table I put on top of my desk to turn it into a standing desk. In the past, I used to love working on the sofa. But I heard sitting all day was as bad as smoking so bucked my ideas up. Quite a fan of the standing desk actually- I’ve noticed I’m more dynamic in meetings.