Since we finished recording this last series of Genius I've been enjoying my writing much more. With nothing else to distract me I've found it easier to immerse myself in the book and suddenly I see the tale with more clarity. Hurrah for things like that.
In order to remain focussed on the book I've been turning down everything else I'm offered. I know I'd enjoy popping up on bubbalub and chatting to Dermot about this series of Big Brother - and I think there's a lot to be said about the current crop of housemates - but I've decided that, for now, the book is more important.
I thought I was going to maintain my no-other-work rule no matter what but then along came an offer that was simply too good to refuse: Just A Minute. JAM is one of the great radio shows. (There's only really I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue that can compare.) So how could I possibly say no when asked to take part? I couldn't. I said yes without hesitation. Or the other two.
And then, I suddenly found myself increasingly worried about what I'd agreed to. Because while I love the show it's also incredibly intimidating. The other contestants will be Paul Merton, Tony Hawks and Clement Freud all of whom are exceedingly skilled players of the game with buckets of experience on their side. Clement Freud had been doing the show since before I was born.
Whatever the show, regulars always have an edge with the audience because their relationship already exists - they've already earned their respect. Anyone new has to try and win that trust anew. I reckon that the longer the regulars have been on a show the harder it gets for any incomers... and there aren't many shows that have been running longer than JAM.
Not that I'm complaining about the situation. They've earned their place in the audience's heart after all. And besides, as a fan of the show I'd be disappointed if Clement Freud wasn't there.
Suddenly it feels like I'm stepping into a boxing ring for my first ever bout and I've been pitted against a an undefeated heavyweight. I will be pummelled. Gulp.
When Tilusha, the show's producer, called me to talk about the show and explain some of its subtleties I confessed that I was feeling intimidated by it. She told me that most people did and that yes, it was quite an intimidating show to step into for just those reasons. Which didn't make for the peppiest of pep talks.
She then told me that Michael Palin had written about the show in his diaries. He appeared on the show in 1975 and he was intimidated by the show then for much the same reasons. I googled it and found the extract here.
"The three regulars have been playing the game together for five years, Williams and Freud for eight, and it shows. They are smooth and polished, they know when to ad-lib, when to bend the rules a little, and when to be cross with each other."
"The game became easier but I never mastered the technique of microphone-hogging which they have all perfected."
Somehow the fact that Michael Palin - official comedy God and NicestManInTheWholeWideWorld felt slightly out of his depth doing the show isn't particularly reassuring.
Having spoken to Tilusha about the show I was surprised to find that our paths crossed again later the same day when we were both at the same book launch. The book being launched was How to Bring Up Your Parents by Emma Kennedy. Emma writes one of my favourite blogs and it's no surprise that such a consistently funny bloggess has turned out such a funny book. (There's a quote from me on the cover so obviously I do genuinely recommend it.)
Seeing Emma's pride and excitement as her tome makes its way into the big wide world was a good reminder of why it is I want to concentrate my efforts on my own book. It has to be something I can be proud of. So other things must go by the wayside. Apart from exciting and intimidating invitations to enter hallowed radio institutions. They must be accepted. I'll be recording two episodes on Tuesday night at the Radio Theatre.