Sunday, August 13, 2006

Navel Gazing

"I see your blogging has died a death," said my old friend Geoff over lunch a couple of days ago.
"What do you mean?" asked I.
"Well, you haven't put anything on your news page for nearly a month," said Geoff.
"That's because there's been no news," said I. "I haven't done anything. For the first time in years I've had a bit of time off."
"Yes... but I looked at the site this morning," said Geoff, pushing his food around the plate, looking sheepish. "I was hoping it would say, 'I'm really excited because I'm having lunch with my lovely friend Geoff later' ... but it didn't.
"No," I said. "It didn't."

I have a job which means there are lots of strangers out there who know stuff about me. One of the things that happens when strangers know stuff about you is that they sometimes assume that the stuff they know is all there is. So I get a lot of e-mails from people that start with "I saw your first stage show, 'Are You Dave Gorman' and..." or things like, "I was in the audience the first time you came to Brighton..." and so on. Even though I know they generally mean well it always seems strangely dismissive and arrogant of them... I mean... how could I possibly have existed before they'd heard of me? Maybe I do the same thing when I talk about musicians or actors or whatever and I'm only aware of how odd it is when it's about me. I hope I don't.

Now I don't expect people to follow my every move... in fact I'd be really scared if anyone did... but one symptom of this is that someone who lives in, say, Reading, sees the Googlewhack Adventure tour in 2003 and then doesn't see me touring again and assumes that because-they-don't-know-about-it-I-must-be-doing-nothing. So while I was touring Australia, America and Canada I used to get the occasional e-mail from people accusing me of being lazy and unproductive and asking when I was planning on bothering to do another show.

Now... I don't really do stand-up; I don't write jokes. I tell true stories for a living. In order to have a story to tell, I need to live life and do stuff. I figure that if something happens that I think is worth telling I'll do something about it and if it isn't worth telling I won't. That seems wholly better than deciding to do a show because it's-about-time-I-did-another-show.

The Googlewhack Adventure basically ended up taking up my whole life for the best part of three years and when it finally came to an end at the end of 2005 I was in no position to just start again on a new project. For a start, the only thing I could have talked about was touring the Googlewhack Adventure and I think a show about touring a show would have been the definition of disappearing up my own fundament. Besides, Dave Gorman's Googlewhack Adventure Adventures would only have prolonged the madness of life on the road and I was really very keen on reacquainting myself with my home. My bed. My friends. I get excited when I know I'm going to be able to have lunch with my friend Geoff. You can't do that when you're on a four month tour of America. I'm not complaining about my lot in life - far from it - but if you were unable to see your friends or family (or bed, or front door, or whatever) for 8 or 9 months a year for 3 years running you'd probably want to spend quite a lot of time doing just that when it became possible.

So when I came home from that final tour I was pretty determined that I would take a few months off and do nothing except enjoy life for a while. Partly because I thought I deserved it and partly because I figured that without taking time off and living some life there would never be a story I wanted to tell people and there wouldn't be a new project anyway.

To begin with I wasn't very good at doing nothing. A quick flick through the entries I made in the first three months of this year shows that I was readily accepting loads of invitations to guest on shows. Some of them I did because they were old favourites that I've always enjoyed and others I did because, 'well, if I'm going to do that old favourite show and that means I'm not really taking time off I might as well do that thing on Thursday as well' but in truth I probably did a lot of them because having been away from the UK for what felt like ages I was worried that the phone would have stopped ringing and I was stupid and shallow enough to be delighted that it was. Silly me.

Then I was offered the part in Annually Retentive, then the opportunity to make a second series of Genius came up and then I was invited to go to New York to write and record some bits for The Daily Show and as far I'm concerned all of these definitely fall into the too-good-to-miss-can't-say-no category. So I didn't say 'no.' I said 'yes.' And I'm very glad that I did because all three were a joy to do.

And so recently... months after the Googlewhack Adventure came to an end, I've finally been taking that time off that I was craving. And I've been loving it. And it means there's been nothing to report. And it means that my head has started to think again. Which means that I've had an idea - or rather that a memory and a thought and an emotion have crystallised into an idea - and the seed of my next project has been planted. Which just goes to show... if you want me to do something new, don't hassle me about it... give me time off, let me get rid of the old stuff that's crowding out my head, let stuff happen to me and then I'll come back and tell you about it later.

Now I'm worried about posting this because I don't want to suddenly get a load of e-mails from people asking me what it's going to be about or speculating on what it might be. I don't understand how that is remotely helpful. The point of the kind of work I do is for me to try to explain the how and the why and the what of a series of events; my thoughts, my emotions and my take on the whole thing. If hundreds of people start telling me what they think of it, it ends up making less sense rather than more.

For example... if the Googlewhack Adventure had been a deliberately planned show (which it wasn't) and I'd have put an announcement on here saying that my next show is going to be about googlewhacking how would that have helped? The moment people knew what the show was about I started getting hundreds of e-mails from people telling me about the googlewhacks they'd found. I know why people wanted to send them to me and I don't really mind them doing so (although there is nothing I can say in return) but had I been in the middle of creating the show when those e-mails were received would it have been helpful? Not in the slightest. Relevant to the story? No. Filling up my inbox and making it harder to see the wood for the trees? Probably.

Which reminds me... about once or twice a month I get an e-mail from someone (a different person each time) saying pretty much the same thing. They write saying, "Hi Dave... I've had this idea for a book/show/TV show/etc and I'm not sure if it's a good idea and if it is a good idea, I'm not sure how to go about getting it off the ground. Have you got any advice?" My honest advice is that there's no such thing as a good idea. Things that sound terrible on paper can be great in reality. Things that sound promising on paper are very often disappointing because they create expectation that can never be surpassed. It's not really about what-it-is, it's about how-you-carry-it-out. Which I suppose means, It might be a good idea if you're interested in it... but my opinion is irrelevant. (Seriously, Father Ted, just as a random example, was a brilliant sit-com because it was brilliantly written, performed and directed. It wasn't a brilliant sit-com because it was about three priests on an island. It's not a good idea. It's a good sit com.)

As to how to get the thing off the ground... I don't even really understand the question. Just go and do something. Write something. Perform something. Show people something. It isn't the kind of job you get given... it's the kind of work you create.

So anyway... just as I don't think there is any advantage in them asking for my opinion I see no advantage in me soliciting stranger's opinions either. So don't bother asking me what it's about because as always, if it's about anything, it's about what's going on in my head. I'll tell you all about it when there's something I think you'll be interested in. It's not as if it'll exist any time soon anyway. It's going to take time. So you're probably best ignoring this and carrying on as if I'm lazily doing nothing. It'll probably be a book one day. It might be something else too but I doubt it will be a stage show. It won't be a novel.

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