“In order to be really good at something, it does have to be hard. But it doesn’t have to be miserable.”
Author and co-writer Mark Eglinton, shares the pivotal moments and the unconventional path that led to his writing career and working with legends like sports stars Michael Lynagh and Michael Owen.
“Did I understand mastery at that point? No I don’t think I did. I think I was still thinking, is there a hack somewhere to make life easier?”
In this conversation with Mark Eglinton on creative collaboration, we discuss how the failure of the family business and some personal challenges brought him to a crossroads and asking the question “what do I do now?”. Mark shares how he quickly learned what he was good at and what he wasn’t, and more importantly, not to waste time trying to do stuff he wasn’t good at.
Whilst always knowing he had the ability to write, it was not a career path he had initially chosen. Who would have thought that becoming a caddy on the Old Course at St Andrews would be a great testing ground to hone his skills. It was a great chance to spend hours with people. The chance to get to know them by asking great questions, and knowing when not to. The ability to develop relationships and make sure that these people walked away feeling they had a better experience than they could have imagined.
Mark Eglinton on Creative Collaboration.
Mark started by writing a book about James Hetfield of Metallica called The Wolf at Metallica’s Door, before going on to write Blindsided with Michael Lynagh; Heavy Duty: Days and Nights in Judas Priest with K.K. Downing; Reboot with Michael Owen and many more.
There is advice throughout this whole conversation as we discuss topics like overcoming procrastination, creating a structure and approach, getting to know your subject, finding the voice of the book and the importance of starting and just doing the work.
Or you can follow him on Twitter @MarkEglinton
Why not check out more of the conversations for the infinite pie thinking podcast
Full Transcript of Mark Eglinton on Creative Collaboration
Mark Eglinton 00:01
So I was kind of dropped in a situation whereby, done the business thing, hadn’t worked, had realised what I’m good at, had also realised what I’m not good at, and was presented with a situation in life, aged, I think it was 30, where I had to make a decision what I was going to do with the rest of my life. Simple as that, I was presented with this crossroads, what are you going to do? Well, I knew the story. I knew the material, I knew I knew the people I needed to get to. I didn’t have Microsoft Word, at that point. I was really starting from the bottom. So you know, I literally just created a new word file, put a title there, chapter one, and it went from there.
Hi, I’m Al Fawcett and this is infinite pie thinking. Now once again, I’m excited to speak with another remarkable guest who’s taken the time to share their story with me. If you’ve listened to previous episodes then of course you’ll know what these conversations are all about. They’re about exploring and understanding performance improvement and development, and maybe even changing some perceptions. I get the chance to speak with inspiring people, including world champions, elite performers, and performance coaches, psychologists, award winning entrepreneurs and business leaders, creatives, authors and artists, and many, many more. And we discuss how they view opportunity, their challenges, their experiences, their lessons, their mindsets and their perspectives. We talked through what they do to consistently work on getting better. Now it’s not really a how to guide, it’s just a chance to look inside someone else’s world and take the time to see things from their side. I don’t actually think there is a one size fits all approach to things but I do think you can learn from others and their experiences, their successes, and maybe even their failures. Whether you hear something new, something you’ve heard before or something you want to learn a bit more about. The important part is thinking about and exploring how it may apply in your life, the action you’re going to take as a result, and how it will help you to improve. So today I’m speaking with author and co writer Mark Eglinton. Mark has written many books including ‘Blindsided’, with Rugby World Cup winner and previous guests on this show Michael Lynagh, ‘Heavy Duty: Days and Nights in Judas Priest’ with musician K. K. Downing and ‘Reboot: My Life, My Time’ with professional footballer Michael Owen. In this conversation, you’ll hear about the lessons that Mark learned early on in his career as he tried to shortcut the system through the family business. Mark shares how he quickly learned what he is good at and what he wasn’t. And more importantly, not to waste time trying to do the stuff he wasn’t good at. He shares how his experience as a caddy on the old course at St. Andrews was a great testing ground for developing relationships, asking great questions and getting to know people. And of course, we’ll explore and discuss topics like effective collaboration, overcoming procrastination, creating structure and approach, getting to know your subject, finding the voice and doing the work. There is advice all the way throughout this conversation. So take a listen and let me know what you think.
Mark, welcome. How’s it going?
Mark Eglinton 03:08
It’s going well, thank you very much. I really appreciate you coming on to talk about some of the work that I’ve been doing, and really enjoyed your podcast so far, so excited to dig in.
Oh, brilliant. Look, I’m fascinated to understand the process. So as I alluded to, in the introduction, obviously, you’ve written a number of books and about some very famous subjects. And I imagine that a lot of conversations that you have are predominantly around the subjects matters that you write about. What I want to do is actually get behind the scenes of this, and I’m more interested in you and your process and what you do about those sort of things, because if I want to know about subject matter, I’d read your book, which actually I have done on numerous occasions. So as I say, I mentioned earlier in the introduction about the fact that you were a golf caddy before becoming an author. Yeah. But then obviously moved into writing. Now, lots of people have an idea or a desire to do something, whether it be writing or art or business or whatever it might be, but they leave it there as an idea. What was different for you? Was it a burning desire to write? Was it just, I’ll give this a bit of a go? Or was it, I’m all in this is everything that I’ve ever wanted to do? I mean, how did the writing start?
Mark Eglinton 04:25
Yeah, I mean, you alluded to the caddying, which is part of the story, but the caddying work is actually the middle point of my journey towards becoming a writer. And the beginning of it was that I was actually in a business background, originally. I left University, joined the family business for all the wrong reasons, actually on reflection, and I was doing it to give myself a kind of head start in life easily. I didn’t want to really do the hard things, I wanted to kind of give myself a leg up. And that was a mistake because I wasn’t doing something that I enjoyed, but it was helpful in some respects, and I realised that I was good in a business environment, but not because of the business, I was good in a situation working with other people. To a certain extent, I am a team player, I was always a team player when I was a youngster playing sport. But I also understood what part my own ego played in everything that I did. And this was ultimately my kind of downfall in business, and that I always felt that I could do things better than whoever it was I was working for. And in that situation, it was my family. So that continued until I reached the point where you asked me did one exist? And the point did come when the business failed, no connection with my involvement, but it failed. It reached a logical end combined with the death of a family member, my father, so I was kind of dropped in a situation whereby done the business thing, hadn’t worked, had realised what I’m good at, had also realised what I’m not good at, and was presented with a situation in life aged, I think it was 30, where I had to make a decision what I was going to do with the rest of my life, simple as that, I was presented with this crossroads, what are you going to do? And was there a burning desire to write? I don’t think so. I knew I could do it. I was told at school by my English teacher, who I’ve referenced a few times in interviews, he always said to me, you know, you have a career in this, if you ever decide to do it. But at that time, when you’re 16, you’re into heavy metal, you’re into girls. Last thing you want to hear is about being a writer, it is just the least sexy thing that you can possibly imagine, from both a on a day to day practical perspective, and also from a monetary perspective, you have no idea how you monetize this kind of thing. So you just put that idea away. And I did for 20 years, or almost 20 years and thought, well, okay, I can write and I have done a bit of writing over the years, but now I’m at a point where I might do it as a career. So that kind of got me to the point where you asked me, I arrived there, and I decided I’m going to try this.
Right. Okay, brilliant. Love some of that stuff. So I love the bit and I want to unpick, you said you went into the business for the wrong reasons. And it was almost that you didn’t want to do the hard things. Looking back now, and it’s always easy in hindsight in retrospect, that, you know, in this current world of hacks and shortcuts, and all these sort of wonderful things, making things easier for ourselves, which yeah, I understand the principle behind it. But if we actually get down and unpick the people who seem to go on to great success, it’s all about mastery. It’s all about putting in the hard yards, doing the work, understanding it at a high level, rather than just sort of skirting around the edges. So is that something that you came to realise, if you are going to do something, you’ve got to put the hard yards in?
Mark Eglinton 07:44
Yeah, yeah, completely. I admit, as I said, I was lazy. I wanted a leg up, I didn’t want to go and work for a company. I didn’t want to start at the bottom, I wanted to sort of come into a situation that was already done. My dad had created a business. I wanted to be part of it, and to reap the benefits of it without having served the time he did. I know that and that was that was the wrong approach. Did I understand mastery at that point? No, I don’t think I did. I think I was still thinking, you know, is there a hack somewhere to make life easier? And you’ve got to remember that, I think in Scotland, particularly where I grew up, there’s a certain honour in toil, there’s something sort of admirable about suffering. And it’s almost like life doesn’t count unless you’ve suffered somehow. So I was resistant to that. I thought, well, I can do it a different way. Why do I have to suffer? Why does it need to be hard? Then I realised that in order to be really good at something, it does have to be hard, but it doesn’t have to be miserable. It just needs to be a process of you understanding what it is and what the components are of what it is you’re trying to get good at. I had no understanding of that, at that age. And I had a limited understanding of at the beginning of the process of writing for a living. That’s something I learned as I went forward. And that’s the only way you can learn. I think I picked up books, how to write books, all that stuff. You can’t, you can’t learn that in a book, you can only do it by experience.
Yeah, it’s that classic situation, if you can read any book and every book you want on how to ride a bike, but until you actually get on a bike, it’s all just theory. So it’s the same sort of stuff. I love that bit about hard work doesn’t have to be miserable. Because it’s almost that association, we wear a badge of honour of how hard we worked and how tough it was and how we brought ourselves up by our bootstraps and whatever. Actually, sometimes when you get up and you actually look forward to and enjoy what you’re doing, it’s still hard work. And believe me, I don’t enjoy all aspects of what I do on a daily basis. There’s stuff that I sit here and go, I really wish I didn’t have to do that. But it creates the whole package as it were, if you’re running a business, there’s certain aspects of it that aren’t always going to be pleasurable, but they need to get done but the getting better. So you just said about when you started it, you probably didn’t realise it, but you woke up this day, nd it might have been over a culmination of days, but you decided, yeah, I’m going to have a go at this writing thing. And so one, were you at that stage starting to get ready to put the work in? And two, you also mentioned about the monetizing. So let’s focus on this bit for a second, because that’s something that puts people off a lot. We’ve got two aspects of this. One, there’s always the follow your passion, and it’ll all come, you know, build it, and they will come type principle. And I’ve seen that sort of work, but more often than not, I’ve seen it not work. So following that passion, that’s one thing, don’t worry about the monetization, don’t worry about the commercialization, it’ll all come when you’re good at something. On the flip side, I’ve seen it stop people from doing things because they start off with the idea. And like I said a moment ago, they leave it as an idea because I can never see how I’m going to make money out of this. I can never see how this could be what I do on a daily basis. And they’ve probably, in a lot of instances thinking too blinkered, but how did you get up one day and decide, if I give this a go, there’s something in it for me, I will be able to put food on the table.
Mark Eglinton 11:10
I was in a unique situation. And the unique situation was that I inherited some money, not life changing money, but enough money that I could afford to say, I’m doing nothing else but what I’m doing for a year, might be miore, a year and a half. So I knew that had my rent covered at that time, it was complicated slightly by I’d just gone through a divorce, so there was a lot of sort of pressures that were circulating at the time. And in some ways I was in a sort of do or die situation, I’m either going to create another career or I’m gonna sink. And that’s quite a powerful impulse. Yeah, it’s a bit of a motivator. So I was in that position where I could experiment, and I had no idea. I mean, I’ve always been into music, I was always into heavy metal music, when I was younger, I had a friend of mine who was in that world. It wasn’t even a friend of mine, at that point, he was a guy that I admired. And I pestered him and said, oh, you know, you’ve done these books, how do I do it? And he kind of swatted me away, which he’s entitled to do at that time. I said, you know, I’ve been doing this for years, who do you think you are, you know, you need to put in the hard work. Again, that thing again. So I started digging around websites, at that time, just offering to do anything. Reviews, you know, I was just wanting to get some material out there in the world in order to experiment with just the act of writing and putting it out there in public. So I did that and got some opportunities, and they felt good. And I’m going back to the ego thing as well, because, you know, probably not a very pleasant trait, but I think a lot of people deny acknowledging this kind of thing. My ego is important to me, I do like seeing my work out there. I make no apologies about that, and I think if I was to deny it, I’d be, I’d be less good at what I do. But it felt good, and it made me want to do more, and it made me want to look for other opportunities, so I did that. And then I got a stroke of luck. I got offered a publishing deal by a publisher to write a book. This was a book about the Metallica frontman James Hetfield, the publisher wanted a book written and they wanted someone who knew something about it. They didn’t ask if I knew how to write a book. And I knew I didn’t know how to write a book. But I said yes, and made that decision that a lot of people make in these situations, which is, I’ll say yes and I’ll figure out how to do the process later. So that’s where it evolved for me. And I was forced into a situation with a 10 month deadline, write a 70,000 word manuscript, make it decent, and that’s what I did.
And that was it, a blank page basically? This is what we want as an outcome, over to you. Where do you start with that?
Mark Eglinton 13:40
Well, I knew the story, I knew the material, I knew I knew the people I needed to get to. I didn’t have Microsoft Word at that point. I mean, I was really starting from the, from the bottom. So, you know, I literally just created a new word file, put a title there, chapter one, and I went from there. And I did a lot of interviews, got a lot of people, got a lot of encouragement from that, because I could feel a bit of passion coming back from other people about the idea, and that kind of spurred me on. And basically, I just figured that out. And the irony is that when it came to delivering this book 10 months later, the publisher assumed I’d written many things before they said, your manuscripts clean, it’s good. You know, I found a way to submit an industry standard manuscript with very little experience at all.
That’s incredible, isn’t it? Okay, so, before I ask about the actual book itself, the question I have to ask is, it’s easy to just let go of the fact that you had this approach from a publisher to say, hey, look, we want this book. How are you on their radar? Was it because of the stuff that you’ve been submitting and writing? Because again, people will sit here and go, oh, so that’s what you do, right? You get a publisher to support you. Well, it doesn’t just happen like that. How did it happen?
Mark Eglinton 14:55
The same friend I told you about. I’ll tell you his name. His name is Joe McIver. He’s got books out there, he is a very good friend of mine now. But he was asked to write the book that I wrote, and he didn’t have time. So he said to the publisher, listen, there’s this guy badgering me, he might know a bit about Metallica, give him a shot and see what happens. Basically, he just wanted to wash his hands of it, and I appreciate that, because him washing his hands of it gave me the opportunity to start a career. And I’ve acknowledged him in every book since, but it was as simple as that. But had I not got that opportunity, I don’t know how I would have got, I mean, I daresay I could have emailed publishers, but if you’ve got no track record as an author, and you’re just blindly emailing editors, they just don’t respond. So I do acknowledge I had a real stroke of luck. But it was because I badgered someone and basically made a nuisance of myself that I got there.
Yeah, you call it a stroke of luck, but it is down to your persistence and, and the desire to make this happen. Your passion, you mentioned passion with somebody else, your passion probably became contagious to a certain degree. So it’s like, okay, give this guy a go because he seems to know something about it, you had to demonstrate that degree of knowledge and understanding as well, it wasn’t just, I want to write, I want to write, I want to write, it was demonstrating your, your knowledge of the subject matter and interest in the subject matter. So I think that’s really, really key. So when you actually came to write that story, how did you avoid just telling the same story that was already out there in the world? You said about, you know, I knew the story I wanted to tell, or I knew the story. I knew the people I needed to interview but how, if you were inexperienced in this, what did you bring to the party that starts to go, I’m going to ask different questions or shape this in a different way. What, did you have a process?
Mark Eglinton 16:38
Not particularly, I was operating to a guideline to a certain extent. So as much as I knew what I wanted to do, there was also guidance in the background from a sort of formula perspective in that they didn’t want something that was too in depth that would scare away people who were some, who were just casual fans. But they also wanted something that was specific enough about the individual and not just about the band. Because there are Metallica books out there, there’s lots of them, they’re all good, and it’s all great. Nothing about this specific man within the band, and what made him tick. So I knew that that was the focus, he’s also a man who interests me, and I knew that he had some sort of issues in his life, and he was a complex guy. So I thought that if I could guide the story, and make it obviously, it’s impossible to separate someone’s life from a band that they’ve been in all their life, you can’t, you couldn’t tell his story without also telling as a byproduct, the Metallica story. So I was very conscious of that, trying to create the separation. And I did that by asking people who had never been asked before about, people who weren’t famous, I asked friends of his from high school in 1970, or whatever, what he was like when he was 15, and 14, and what the beginning of his trajectory was. And that was my focus, and I think by large, that was successful obviously. I did speak to musicians as well, later, to get a, sort of more rounded sense of the point that you reached later on, but I wanted to make it a sort of evolution story, a story of him evolving as a person. And, as someone who kind of grew up as a heavy metal fan as a 16, 17 year old, I knew what it was like to be in your bedroom with posters of your sorrows on the wall, playing a guitar. I never tried to be in a band, but I knew at least what he would have felt like. So I felt like kind of maybe shared something. And from that perspective, I think it was easier for me to try and tell it that way.
On that basis then, do you write from the perspective of your audience? Or what you’re interested in? Or do you see yourself as a member of your audience? This is what I’d be interested in, so therefore, there’ll be others like me out there that would be interested in the same thing.
Mark Eglinton 18:45
Really difficult to separate those two, particularly in that book. And I should say, just for anyone who’s wondering, that was, I think that was the only book I’ve written a third person biography of someone else at that point. Everything else since has been me working with people like Michael Lynagh or Michael Owen, telling their story in the first person, that’s a separate process, and we’ll come on to that. But this right here, this book here, it was really difficult for me to be objective, because I have opinions about Metallica, I’ve also got opinions about him. And as much as I might want to inject those into the book, those aren’t necessarily what serve at best. There were times where I find myself having to pull back on my opinions or my, I’d like to be high handed about something or criticise something, that’s really not what I was there to do. And I think that’s what I find most difficult, to sort of remove my fan hat and write about the subject totally objectively, that was really difficult.
Have you found that easier to do now, I mean, I know that as I say, we’re going to come on to the fact that you now tend to co author with people as opposed to writing a book that is your book about somebody, but has that process of separation become easier over time?
Mark Eglinton 19:58
Very much so. And it’s much easier when you’re working with someone else. And I’ll explain why when we get on to that idea, but it is related to the fact that they quite often don’t know the important part of their own story. As crazy as that might sound, people who’ve done extraordinary things, whether it’s in sport or music, the things that they assume are kind of humdrum or sort of, yeah, that happened. Sometimes I find myself in situations where something major could have been emitted from one of these books simply because they didn’t think it was important. And I had to say, wait a minute, this is huge, this is vital to this story. I can’t think of an example, and I’m not sure I want to actually because it’d be embarrassing in a couple of occasions. Not suggesting that Michael Lynagh forgot to mention that he won the Rugby World Cup, but something along those lines, you have to, you have to decide what the important part of their story is, because they don’t know. Quite often someone will not have the perspective on their own life as you have.
Well it’s interesting. And you mentioned Michael, and as you know, I’ve interviewed Michael for this show as well, and he is a very humble guy. He is very quick to to exactly what you just say where it’s like, well, it’s just what I did. And he’s also very quick to pass the credit and the praise off to others around him. And it’s because he says, that part of his skill set in the position that he played, the role that he saw was to make those around him better. So that’s almost like his natural sort of tendency. But I suppose it’s almost like the famous quote of an interviewer asking, I think was Kelly Osborne, what’s it like to be Ozzie Osborne’s daughter? And she said, well, I don’t know any different. He’s just my dad. And it’s the same sort of thing. So they’re sort of taking for granted that well, yeah, I did used to go out and kick the ball for three hours after… Well, do you know what? Not everybody does that. Oh, don’t they? Oh, I suppose they don’t really. And it’s those type of things that you need to be able to unpick and you sort of shine the spotlight on it to go well, you need to tell me more about that.
Mark Eglinton 22:03
Yeah, they make assumptions about what, what people know and will understand. And it’s not an attentional thing, it’s not that they don’t want to tell it, they just assume that it’s normal. You’re absolutely right.
Yeah. So let’s start to move on to that then. So you wrote this book, obviously went down well with the publisher, they said, brilliant, this, this is exactly what we look for. So did they then turn around and say, so here’s seven more projects, or was it sort of, okay, we’ll give you a shout, or if you come up with something else that you’re interested in, let us know, we’ll we’ll take a look at it. What was the next step?
Mark Eglinton 22:32
I don’t think they said anything. I don’t think I said anything either. I think it was just, that was good, and just, you know, I get a or other I don’t get a royalty check. And we just went separate ways, very amicably. It was great. I think, I mean, I don’t want to sort of second guess what they thought. I think they made me realise that they had given me my first chance that I would possibly go on and do other things on my own. And we’re very happy to do so, they may think that, I don’t know, we never discussed it. But I don’t think I ever went back to them with any other ideas, principally because that isn’t what I wanted to do. I didn’t really want to write books about people, I wanted to work with people.
Why? What sparked that? Is that something going back to your time in business, you said that you liked working with, your sort of a team player?
Mark Eglinton 23:20
It all came from caddying. And just to cut back in the story a little bit, I told you that I reached this point where I had a little bit of money, had some sort of family crises on my radar at that time. And I decided to kind of decompress from the aftermath of divorce, parental death, business failure, what would I like to do? And the answer was, I’d like to go out the old course where I grew up, I’d like to caddy every day. And I’d like to do that often and I’d like to meet as many people as possible. And I’d like to share four hours with someone from somewhere one day, then someone else the next. And I just want to immerse myself in talking to people. That’s what I did and I’m a huge golf fan. I love St. Andrews. I love the old course. And I found that I really, really enjoyed the process of starting completely afresh with someone on the first tee, literally, how are you? Where are you from? What’s your handicap? All of this. It helps that you’re on a very famous golf course and this is the trip of a lifetime for them. You’re an important part of that, but slightly connected to books as well, and I’ll tell you why. You know, you feel a real responsibility to make that day as good as it possibly can be for them. And that means giving them everything of you, asking everything of them and creating a real relationship. And I did with many people. I’ve still got many friends that I caddied for, many of whom say that day was one of the best ever, you know, I still got people popping up on social media saying, do you remember when you caddied for me back in whatever it was? And in some instances, I don’t, because there was lots of good ones, but for them, it was the day of their life, and that’s great. Now, where this ties in with writing people’s books is, on a very shrunken level, four hours with somebody, learning about their life, which is what you do, is a forshortened version of spending 10 months or a year with someone learning about their life and writing their book. Similarly, I discovered that there is a huge amount of responsibility that comes with doing it, and it felt the same, you know, someone’s there for their one trip. Fantastic, make it great. Someone’s here to write their autobiography, they’ll only right one, you got to, you got to make it as good as it possibly could be. And going back to Michael Lynagh, he might not remember this, but he told me this, about halfway through. And it was a sort of backhanded thing as it quite often is with him, there was no drama in it whatsoever, but he told me about an old friend of his back in Australia, who was a huge fan, who passed away. And his wife said to Michael, oh, by the way, I want to have a copy of your book buried with my husband. And Michael told me this and said, oh, just by the way, no pressure. And I remember thinking, okay, this book that I’m writing, which is something I feel already very responsible for is going to be buried with somebody. I don’t think there’s a more responsibility that can be heaped on you, but that’s how it felt. And it’s felt that way ever since. And whenever I embark on a project with someone, whoever it is, I always feel the same responsibility to tell their story properly, because they’ll probably only do it once.
Yeah. Look, we could probably spend the whole time just talking about the caddying thing because even as you were saying it, my head was going, you can’t just knock on the door at St. Andrews and say, any chance I can be a caddy for you? So there’s a whole story behind that, but we’ll hold that for another day maybe. And then like you say, I love the thing around the, my responsibility is making sure that this person has a fantastic day. And there’s lots of different ways that can be incorporated into that and that rapport building and that conversational style and that engagement, as well as obviously playing the game, them playing a good game and helping them to feel their at their best is all there. And I get all that and therefore there’s got to be a real balance between banter and engagement and questioning and sort of conversation and, shutting up and letting them concentrate. So that must have been a skill that over time that you really honed.
Mark Eglinton 27:36
Yeah, that’s a really good point. You have to make, I found that I could make a judgement pretty quickly. On the first tee, very, very soon after shaking hands, getting the basics, I’m Mark, you’re such and such, you’re from where, great, fantastic. See them swing the club once, you know what kind of player they are. You also know what kind of person they are, there are some guys or ladies and indeed, as well. And I caddied for as many women as it did for men, who you just know, don’t want to talk to you. And that’s fine, absolutely fine. It’s just not their style. They want to show up there, they want to play their best golf, they want you to read the putts correctly, they want the best lines off the tee. They don’t want to hear about your life, they don’t want to talk about theirs. Absolutely fine. And I would say that of the total, maybe 30% were that, not a problem, enjoy those rounds too. The other 70% were a sort of varying scale of people who wanted the whole thing. They wanted the advice, they wanted to learn a bit about Scotland, they wanted a bit of what they thought was Scottish banter. They wanted immersed in the sort of, the sort of folklore a little bit of caddying and it helped massively that I grew up in St. Andrews. I always felt really quite difficult for people who didn’t, because they were having to try and fake it a little bit, and that’s not to say that they’re any worse at the job than I was, but I grew up there, I was out there when I was five and six playing golf and knew the golf course, I knew the sort of history. And they loved that, because that’s what they come for. They just want the Scottish caddy on the old course. So but yes, I had to make a judgement, you can make it very quickly. This is a talker or this isn’t, this is somewhere in between. And you get some people who might talk for a few holes, then they decide that that’s enough, they just want to play golf for the rest of it, and you just have to go with it. And that is a very similar situation to working with someone on a co-write. Some people you really need to drag information out of and you need to force, and you’re in a slightly different position because you’re, you’re contracted as a caddy, there’s a transaction. But when you’ve got a publishing deal, I’ve got to get the thing across the finish line. And I have been in situations where I’ve said to people, listen, I get you to want to talk about this, I get perhaps this isn’t your natural environment to be chatty, but we’ve got to get this across the finish line and it’s my job to do it. So you know, either we make it hard or we just go with it, and we get the conversation flowing. We meet in person more or do something different in order to get the job done, and these are all things that you’re doing on the fly.
Yeah. So you start the co-writing gigs, you’re working on these projects, blank piece of paper to start, or you’ve got an idea of what you want. Is it your idea? Is it their idea? Do you sit down and say, before we even start writing a word, let’s understand what we’re trying to achieve? How do you contract with them, if you like at that start? How do you manage and set expectations from both sides?
Mark Eglinton 30:29
Good question and it varies according to what sort of life we’re talking about. I think in most cases, most people who are writing an autobiography or a memoir are coming to it with an agenda of some kind. They might say that there isn’t one, but there usually is of some kind. Sometimes it’s about setting the record straight on something, sometimes it’s quite bitter. In Michael Lynagh’s case, and I keep going back to Michael because it’s a good example, because it’s got so many different elements. He said to me, when we first connected, he said, I don’t know why you’d want to work with me, because, you know, I’m not very rock and roll, and you’ve done rock and roll stuff, and I’m not a rock and roll guy and you are, and why do you want to do it? And that kind of thing, as we discussed earlier is typical of Michael, he just doesn’t see how his story is important, you know, forget that he had a stroke, he was won a World Cup, all this kind of thing. So once we got into talking about it, the focus for him, in his case, was the stroke recovery and what he went through and all of that kind of thing. In other cases, it’s, for instance, Michael Owen, who I worked with recently, I always felt Michael Owen was misrepresented in the press. I always thought that he got a hard time, I thought he was under appreciated. And when we first talked about it, I told him that and he said absolutely right, I am, I always feel that that’s the case, and the reason I am is because people don’t know the full story. So there’s a situation where your idea, your your template for the book is there, you know what it is. And normally there is something in almost every case, there is something, the reason why they want to write the book. But in every case, there is no other way of doing it without telling the whole story. Without us sitting down and chronologically going through the entire story, then it’s my job to extract the elements that are important, remove the ones that aren’t and streamline someone’s life into 300 pages.
Yeah, well, that’s the thing, isn’t it? It’s that essence of, yes, we have to almost like diarize things, but nobody wants to pick up a book and read and then this happened nd then this happened and then this happened, and this. So you have to weave a story and a narrative through it, right? So you’re turning around, and you’re saying, Michael Lynagh has the premise of, well, once I finished rugby, I’m no longer a rugby player, so that’s not really important anymore. It’s something that happened before and somebody written about me as a rugby player before. So why would I want to go through that again? Whereas obviously, the stroke side of things becomes the next level of the story, but it’s got to be weaved into who he was as a man, and how he became that man in the first place.
Mark Eglinton 32:58
There was another angle there that I thought of, and you know, there’s this sense that as professional sports people or an elite sports person, you are physically immortal. And that was very convenient to juxtapose against. Here’s a 48 year old guy having a stroke and almost dying. There was that thing that was working in the Michael Lynagh story that I found compelling. He was a guy who could do anything, who could physically, he could do anything. He was fit, he was healthy all the way through his life, and all of a sudden, age 48, for no other reason than he just did, he has a stroke, and all of a sudden you might, you might die. That seemed to me such a huge thing to wrestle with. It was basically just the fragility of life.
Yeah. And then as you say, with the Michael Owen, it’s the misrepresentation, it’s his ability to actually start to express himself now that he’s not hamstrung by, interesting choice of words, but hamstrung by his previous you know, whether it be because he’s representing a club or a brand or a whatever, he’s now able to be a little bit more open and show a little bit more of his side of things, without trying to come across as just bitter and twisted and woe is me.
Mark Eglinton 34:09
Exactly. It’s a very difficult balance. But I think above and beyond anything else, and I’ve said this to almost everyone I’ve worked with, I think that the most important thing about telling a story as a person who is famous, and I use that term only to describe somebody who might write an autobiography, you need to create some sort of bond with the reader, in terms of relatability, right off the bat. You need them to be able to read something about them, or see something in the subject that makes them say, I can understand how they feel, or even better, I feel like they do. As soon as someone feels that they share something in common with a footballer or a musician or something else, you’ve got a bond that’s unbreakable for that book if you get the book right, because we all want to feel closer, we all want to feel like there’s not this massive chasm between us and our heroes. We want to feel like we share something and that human connection is a really, really important part of it all. And it’s the thing that the people in that situation find hardest to do for the reasons that we discussed. They don’t know anything else. If you fly the helicopter to St. James’s Park, you’re not really living the sort of human connection type of life, but you have to understand that it exists.
Yeah. No it’s fascinating because again, if we think back 50, 60 years ago, celebrity, it was about mystique, it was about separation, it was about, whereas now, it’s actually the opposite. It’s about the fact that, oh, they’re like me. But you’re right, there is still that degree of, they are like me, but hang on a minute, they’re turning up in this type of vehicle to these type of events that isn’t like me, but at least I still feel there’s a connection.
Mark Eglinton 35:44
I think social media has been responsible for sort of narrowing that gap, hasn’t it? Because it’s kind of brought people closer together in theory, but not in practice really.
Yeah. Well, it allows us to reach out to people or feel like we’re able to reach out to people and to get an insight. And again, social media, in its grand sense, is a tool. And it’s neither good nor bad, but what we do with it. So when people say, oh, we should all be off of social media and all the rest of it. Okay, I’ve got my own views on these sort of various things. And there is a lot of stuff that goes on on social media isn’t particularly great and isn’t particularly pleasant, but it doesn’t make the tool a bad thing. It’s how we’re choosing to use it.
Mark Eglinton 36:24
Okay. So you mentioned earlier about your ego. And you like seeing your stuff out there. So how does that tie in with co-writing? Because again, in a way, you’ve got to put your ego on the backseat a little bit, because you’re turning around and going well, it’s them, and it’s their book. So there is this illusion, in a lot of instances that the book is written by an individual. Understand that. And then all of a sudden, your name might pop up somewhere. So how do you balance that?
Mark Eglinton 37:00
It’s a great question. Because I mean, there is nothing by definition, more ego-less than co-writing, or ghost writing. It’s one thing your names on the cover. And that varies according to what the publishers want, depends on what level of authenticity, it’s not authenticity actually, it’s just, it’s a fact. I mean, some people just don’t have the time or the energy to write their own book, so it makes total sense, have no problem with that. But there are some cases where contractually the co-writer isn’t on the cover. They’ve written the whole book but they’re not in the cover. And would I struggle with that? Yeah, I do. I do. Not because, I don’t know why. And I’ve kind of wrestled with this a little bit. I don’t really know why. Because I know that what was involved. I don’t know, I guess maybe it’s me wanting some degree of attachment with the people I’ve worked with. Yeah. Could be that. Could be that.
Why do they do that? Why do they have the ghost writing element of it? Is it that there’s a question over impact on validity and authenticity to the book if it’s perceived that somebody else wrote it? Because I think most of the general public know that there’s probably some help and support in there somewhere.
Mark Eglinton 38:13
I’ve never really understood it because, you’re right. There is, there was a spell less so recently, but there was a spell five or 10 years ago, when there was a certain snobbery surrounding co-written memoirs, autobiographies, as if to say, well, you know, they had help, therefore, somehow it’s less valid. I actually think that a co-written books even more valid, because, I mean, you have professional help. I mean, I’m a writer, that’s what I do for a living. Michael Lynagh’s a former rugby player and someone who works in business, Michael Owen was a former footballer, neither of them are writers, both of them would admit to that. Therefore if you want to have your story told, as best as it possibly can be, it makes total sense to me that you would engage somebody who’s going to push you in the right directions, who’s going to prod you for the right answers, who’s going to get the best out of the story that you have. To me, that makes total sense. And it probably makes total sense to me, because that’s what I do. Yeah. But even if I wasn’t doing it, I would say well, actually, you know, if I’m getting my car serviced, I’d want to get it serviced by somebody who knows how to service these types of cars. I do see that the connection, I think the connection is a positive and the two best memoirs I’ve ever read by anyone are Keith Richards’ book and Andre Agassi’s, for totally different reasons. Both co-written.
Yeah, there was a little stage at one point of the co-writer became a celebrity in their own right. There was a number of, if you had this person supporting you and writing your book, it was seen as a big tick to the quality of that book and I find that fascinating in itself. I suppose there’s a lot of aspects to that but, this is a personal opinion, I would certainly not stop myself from buying a book because it said, name of person with name of person. Yeah. You know, if I feel that the book is going to be engaging, is going to provide me with the information and the story that I want to know, then it’s just down to the quality of the writing then.
Mark Eglinton 40:09
Yeah, I agree. And I think you’re right. I mean, particularly with musicians. I mean, and I’ve worked with a few musicians, most musicians collaborate when they’re writing music. Yeah. Very few of them lock themselves in dungeons on their own and come up with music, most of them pull in help from somewhere else. And I think that’s just a logical thing to do. Because, as I said to you, at the very beginning of this conversation, quite often, that’s not a criticism at all, but some, some of these people just don’t have the perspective on their own life that you can give them, by saying yeah, but what about this? They go, oh, yeah, forgot all about that. Didn’t know that, you know, didn’t know, didn’t think that would be important. And not only is it important it’s everything, and I think you need someone to be on site for that. That’s just my opinion.
Yeah, well, it’s that objective view, isn’t it? It’s that outside looking in and going, hang on, tell me a bit more about that. But also, it’s about skill set. So obviously I work within organisations and businesses, and you will have various functions within a business that are very, very good at certain things, then it’s about the collaboration into functionally. So some businesses they bring me in, because all of a sudden, it starts become a silo mentality within that business of, well, these people aren’t talking with these people on working nicely with, so we need to break down those silos a little bit. And it’s also it’s about being able to tap into the resource of expertise. So, just because somebody has lived that life, one there’s that situation of their ability to review that life and go well, that’s the good bit and that’s the interesting bit and that’s the well, you know, that happened for a long period of time, but nothing really happened, and sort of be able to weave that. But it’s also, they’re not writers, they were good at something else. So they’re not necessarily storytellers. And we see this all the time with, after dinner speaking or whatever, you can see some people who get up on the stage, and they’ve got the audience in the palm of their hands, and you’ve got others that, not so much. And it doesn’t make them any worse at what they did before, it means that they’re not necessarily good at that, and I think that it’s understanding. So you use the word collaboration?
Mark Eglinton 42:06
I’ve admitted, I should throw something in here. Yeah, please. There’s a huge admission, not an admission, it’s something that is fundamental to all of this. And that’s the idea of voice. Right. Because this is where a co-writer lives and dies. If someone picks up a book that’s co-written, and they read it, and they think, that’s such and such talking, i.e. the subject there in. Yep. And there are certain things that people say in certain things that people say, and expressions they would use and wouldn’t use that, as a co-writer, you’ve got to pin those down very, very quickly, and get a sense of just this person’s way of describing things. And that was the hardest thing for me to do. It helped that the very first one, first co-write I did was with a musician from Texas, spoke in a very distinctive way. Lots of Texas expressions, lots of them a little bit clumsy. And I had to kind of soften that, but I had to keep them in there so that when someone read it, they’ll go, yep, that sounds like him, he’s got him. It’s a bit more difficult with someone who has less sort of affectations or obvious ways of speaking. But you’ve still got to capture that voice. And this is where not, I don’t think it’s ego, but it’s just myself. I found myself saying something in a way that I would say it, that isn’t necessarily what they would say. And I’m doing it with the best intentions. And I’m doing it to make the book really good. But it isn’t necessarily what they say. So I’ve had to find compromise positions. And that is part of the latitude you have as a co-writer, you have that artistic licence to say well, if I left it exactly as they said it, would the book be as good as it would be if I maybe made a modification, perhaps to use to turn a phrase or a word that they wouldn’t necessarily use. You have to weigh all those up at every point, and make sure that you’re getting that balance of, yes, it’s authentic to voice, but is it a good book as well? And that’s the toughest part of this.
I can understand how that’d be really tricky, because it’s almost that sense of, they’ve said this, so I’m going to write that, almost as a quote. Yeah. And hold back that desire to want to go and what they mean to say is… So that must be really, really tricky. Okay, so you’ve worked with some incredible people, you’ve obviously sat down with them again, what’s your process? Do you spend hours with an audiotape going so you can capture those sort of affectations? You can capture those turn of phrases, you can capture the stories, you can go back and replay it and go, I need to know more about that and dive into that bit. Is that what it is? So you just let the conversation flow?
Mark Eglinton 44:39
Yeah, we I mean, obviously, in an ideal world in a non-COVID world, it would be face to face. Yeah. I would try and force people into committing to depending on what times available, where they are, face to face conversations and we’d sit and talk for an hour, and I’d give them a sort of a sphere and what we want to talk about, an area of the career, usually try to do it chronologically. I try and keep them on that path. It’s not always easy. Lots of people go off on a tangent, that’s fine, I’m recording it all anyway. But by and large, try and keep people on path. Try not to ask too many questions and let them flow. And obviously we hit a point where there’s, we’re not getting information, I’ll push it to the question or dig a little bit deeper into something, then I just keep all these recordings. So in some cases, I think with Michael Lynagh, that was probably 50 hours of tape. Right. Real nightmare, keeping track of it all because, when it’s not chronologically, there’ll be fragments within conversations that are important to a section of the book that come much later, and vice versa. I used to transcribe all these and sometimes I still do. But I still work from tapes, because tapes give me the rawness of their conversation to build, build narrative from. And that’s the way it’s been, the more face to face we can do, the better. But I’ve done books entirely on, entirely on Skype I think, never face to face. With Michael Owen, really interesting, when Michael and I, we met in person, four times for entire days, though, and we’d sit and talk, then we’d go for lunch, and we’d talk at lunch, then we go back, and we do more, then we might go and have a pint. And we talked and that’s great, because you’ve got somebody out of this situation where you’re shining a kind of spotlight on them. You’ve just got them talking. That’s fantastic. And then we did almost no follow up by Skype or anything like that. We did it all by WhatsApp message, voice memos, which is really, really handy. And I’ve still gotten them all. But he would be, I’m sure he wouldn’t mind me saying, he’d be driving to school one day, taking the kids to school, and he’d suddenly have a thought about something that he wanted to tell me. And you know, with the way that phones are and hands free, he’d leave me a 20 minute or 30 minute voice memo about a subject. It’s great, it really worked perfectly. And I could just have that and I could work from it. I think it all depends on what the individual’s circumstances are, what they’re comfortable doing. Yeah. But definitely the more face to face, the better. Yeah. I’ve done stuff entirely by email as well, which is really, really tough. That must be hard. But can be done.
Yeah, as I said, I think that especially in this current environment, we realise the practicalities and the benefits of these amazing tools. We’re doing this over a conference call at the moment, but also the real connection that you get in a face to face environment as well. So I absolutely agree on all of that. So you’ve got all this wonderful raw material from the horse’s mouth as such. But what about all the other background stuff? Do you then trawl through the news clippings of the time and the people’s perceptions? Do you read other people’s books? Is there a danger if you read that that you’re worried that you’ll incorporate it too much? How much extra information and extra research do you do over top?
Mark Eglinton 47:46
I try not to do too much, other than basic fact checking. And the reason for that is because, writing a biography like the first one I did, I had to do a lot of that because obviously I was creating narrative from scratch. Yeah. With a co-write situation you’re kind of being given narrative to work with, you’re given raw material, it’s up to you to make it into a sort of readable text and to give it the polish and all these kind of things. Now, if Michael Owen told me that they played against Everton, they won 2-1 on such and such a date, I would check that that happened. And we had a few where we disagreed. It was actually a different year or a different you know, you got to do the basics. Yeah. I certainly didn’t go back, I mean, and Michael had written another autobiography some years prior, which I think was very good. He wrote it when he was or he was in a collaboration when he was a very young guy, I never read it. And the reason I didn’t read it, is because I didn’t need to read it. I wanted it to be just what he was telling me, and that, I would say by large, that applies. Yeah. But obviously the basic fact checking, yes, I mean, particularly when it’s, you know, music check. Did that tour happen that year? Yes, it did. Yeah. Did that game happen that year? Yes, it did. But that would be all. I didn’t do any research. I never do any research in terms of other people’s opinions. I don’t think any matter in this situation.
Yeah. Because again, it’s their story, right? So again, it’s their perception of that reality as it happened. So unless the thing didn’t happen, their perception of it, in the same way that we all have the same thing. Yeah. We can all talk about a particular event, but we’ll have slightly different views because we’re looking at it through different lenses. So, and that’s quite interesting itself, when it comes to the world at large, about just putting, it’s the same with these conversations, what I say to people, this, this isn’t necessarily a how to guide, how to write or whatever, this is so people can see the world through your lens for half an hour, an hour, or whatever it might be, and go, huh, that’s interesting. And we’re looking at it from a slightly different perspective. And it might help them to think slightly differently, it might confirm something that they already believe, or, or do themselves, or whatever it might be. So I just think that like I said, I can’t tell you that you’re right or wrong, I can just say, tell me what your view of the world is. Yeah. So we can understand that. And I find that really, really fascinating. So you’ve written a number of books, are you the type of person that goes back and reviews and goes, okay, so how do I make the next one better? Are you a constant goal setter, and I want to continue to get better? I want to put that hard work into master this craft over time? Or are you just, I just take each project as it comes with the view that I’m pretty good at what I do, and it’ll work out?
Mark Eglinton 50:23
Second one sounds terrible.
Yeah, that was a loaded question, wasn’t it?
Mark Eglinton 50:32
A bit of a mixture? I don’t go back and read previous books very often. In fact, one thing I do find quite funny is I go back and read previous books, like on the toilet or something that’s not, that’s not to denigrate them. But, and I read something and I think, I don’t remember writing that. It’s really bizarre how I feel that quite often, I do not do not remember that particular passage or whatever. But in terms of analysing actually what I did, I don’t think so. Because, again, it’s that voice. It’s not like there’s a common formula that runs through everything. I mean, some books are so radically different from others, most of mine are. And that radical difference isn’t really, me. That radical differences, me presenting someone else who is radically different from the last person, I need to be sort of chameleon like in that respect, in that I can adapt to each different individual and express them in the way that they should be. So in terms of actually the sort of nuts and bolts of writing, I do get better at it. Because I find myself using certain expressions too much, or I look at things and think that’s a bit clumsy. And I think in the early stages of co-writing, I think I probably thought about that more than I do now. It’s not to say that I don’t still do that, and I’m sure I do, I’m sure people get really irritated by some things that I do often. I try not to get too bogged down in the mechanics, and focus on the sort of organic part of it, which is someone else’s life story. But I think, the other thing I think I learned as I go without trying to learn, and I’m that’s another really important thing that goes goes back to that life being miserable and hard. You know, I don’t sit there and sort of read through texts and say, well, that sentence is good, this one’s bad. I just think I gradually adapt and realise that’s a good way of doing it, this is a little bit better, I did that, you start using what I call devices, and it sounds really cynical, but there are ways of expressing things that are good, that are better than others. And I think you learn what they are and where they’re, where they’re best applied. And I think it’s a sort of subconscious learning that you do, rather than anything conscious to say, I did that badly, and I’m going to do better this time. I’ve never done that.
I think sometimes this consciously, almost like putting a hat on and going, I am now in a learning mode, is not necessarily as advantageous as it can be. Because again, we can be in theoretical, hypothetical mode, can’t we? We can be in that? Well, if I was writing this again, I might write this. Well, actually, let’s just write it again and see what comes out this time. Yeah. And sometimes I know there’s that you want to be practising the right things, because you got your fundamentals right, then the art of actually just doing more of it, enhances and develops that skill, where it becomes more second nature, and it becomes unconscious, where we’re actually we, you know, it’s that joyous word, we get into a flow, right? So you sit down at the keyboard, and we don’t just look at a blank page and where do I start? We’re off. Yeah. And I’ll actually ask you that as a question, because I find this one really fascinating, is a marketing guy named Seth Godin, who turns around and says, there’s no such thing as writer’s block. Because there’s no such thing as speakers block, if you wanted to start talking, you would just start talking. And that’s what you need to do with writing, you just need to start writing. Yeah. And then often, I find that the reason that I get stuck with it is because I don’t want to start writing until I know that the thing I’m going to write is perfect. So looking at a blank page is horrible to me, because it’s a blank page blinking at me. So my technique is I just start writing stuff. And then slowly but surely, my mind gets into a roll. And then I delete the first three pages, and just go from page four onwards. What’s your process?
Mark Eglinton 54:31
I’m slightly helped. And this is a sort of inside baseball type bit of information that applies to what I do. In most cases, when I come to write a book, we have already done a proposal for a publisher, and that proposal will already have had maybe a sample chapter, if not a sort of fairly chunky excerpts or maybe two sample chapters, in some cases, depending on the situation. So I’ve got that, that’s there. And when it comes to starting the book, once the book has been commissioned, rarely do I have a blank page, in fact, I never do, I’ve always got that sample material. I tend to kind of, it’s not always chronological, I don’t write a book from start to finish, I usually write sections. Okay. According to conversations that stick out in my mind, then I fill in the gaps in between. Right. Obviously, at some point, I’m going to look at it all as a, from start to finish, round package. But I don’t, it’s not always chronological, I tend to tackle sort of moments and sections and lives, and then do it from there. And I’ve never had an issue with writer’s block in terms of, I don’t know what to write, I’ve got tonnes of issues with procrastination. Just, you know, well, if I leave that till tomorrow, I think that will be better, for no other reason that I don’t want to do it today. And that’s the kind of conversations that are quite, quite common. And also, the other thing is, I need to be under extreme pressure.
That’s a common trait in a lot of people. It’s the classic sort of, I’ll do my homework the night before it’s due, even though I’ve been given three weeks to do this project, that type of of mentality. So do you just know that about yourself and go and accept it? Or do you find ways to overcome that procrastination?
Mark Eglinton 56:20
I mean, obviously, I mean, deadlines, they’re the quickest way to overcome that procrastination, you got to meet them. And I do put myself in a corner sometimes. And I do it for the for the right reasons. Because I think my best work is when I’m under a little bit of pressure, if I’ve got a year to write a book, actually, I probably shouldn’t say this…
You probably can leave it there. And I think we can all fill in the gaps.
Mark Eglinton 56:44
Yeah, but no, I, and it’s not a cynical thing at all. It’s just the way I work best. I mean, the actual time involved in writing 70,000, 80,000 words, not a huge amount. I mean, it could be done in a couple of weeks, if you’re really willing to sit down and do it in a couple of weeks. But yeah, I need to be under a bit of pressure when I’m doing it.
And when I was asking the question about the procrastination, I meant on a day to day basis, so if it’s a, you know, I’ll do it tomorrow, because I have the time and tomorrow’s fine. Is, is it a situation of just accepting it and going yeah, tomorrow, will be fine? Or do you finally get to a point where you get I’m aware that I’m procrastinating? Yeah. And I’m gonna put my bum in the chair today, and I’m going to do something. But also, there is an argument that we will fill the time that we are given. So if you were given two weeks, you do it in two weeks, if you’re given two months, you’ll take two months. But there’s also an argument that says you might have only written the book in the last three months of that year. But you actually took a year to write it because of all the way that you were allowing it to permeate in your mind and the way you were shaping it, and you might have been going for a walk and you start to think about actually, that’s quite a nice little story that we need to weave in. And all of those things permeate into the, actually, over the course of 12 months, I have shaped and developed and built this book.
Mark Eglinton 58:05
Yeah, I think you’re absolutely right, I think you’ve identified something that’s quite important. The writing process of writing a book isn’t just typing on the keyboard, I used to find that, again, giving us an example, I used to drive down to Michael lives in the Welsh border, and I used to drive back. And I used to take our spare iPhone to do the recordings. And that’s still what I do with all of them, I’ve got a spare iPhone, and you can just connect it to your computer and you got them on your computer. But I used to sit, driving back from there with the iPhone on my passenger seat, playing through the car radio and just listening to all the tape because you forget what you talked about. And it’s amazing, because it happened that day, you forgot that you talked about it. And I used to just make mental notes, or let me remember that thought or let me remember that point and all of that. And it’s a bit like people who listened to book tapes or audiobooks when they’re falling asleep, never done it myself. And I used to hear about these people who were trying to learn for exams, who would have information going into their head when they’re asleep, and the hope that some of that would stick and the next morning when they did the exam paper, it would come out. Never tried it. But I do know that listening to these tapes in that kind of situation was really important. And I might do that for a few months, with some of this travelling and all of that. And I would count that as a very important part of the process, simply because it might be that I would do something differently as a result of hearing it. As opposed to what I might have done had I just sat down on my computer, come across that bit of tape at the time that I did, and worked on it. I just think laying and breathe a little bit really helps. So when you say that it took a year to write a book, and you only absolutely sat at a keyboard for three months, I still think that those seven months of whatever else, whatever else you’re doing, I think they’re really important to the process.
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And that listening back all the time as well, I imagine based on what you were saying earlier about getting the tone of the individual, it embeds all of that because you, it’s not just the number of hours you sat in front of them, it’s, it’s actually listening to that over and you start to pick up the nuances and the tones, and it really does start to embed. Okay, so final question, then I suppose is, what’s next? What are you, what are you either working on now or have exciting opportunities in the future?
Mark Eglinton 1:00:17
Well, I’ve had a project that’s been on my plate for a while now and has been pushed back. This is something that’s happening at the moment. You know, COVID has, on one hand, been very fortunate and the publishing has been, I’m not saying that publishing has been insulated, but I think more than many industries publishing has been insulated a little bit from the effects of COVID, and I’m very grateful that it has because people are reading more. As a result publishers are acquiring, and the business kind of mostly turns on. However, what it does mean is that people can’t promote books like they did before. I mean, in certainly when it comes to a sports person or a musician, you want them to be able to turn up on top sporting person, you want them in our studio, we can’t do that. So it makes publishers have to make decisions about when books should come over, etc. So, I’ve been working with Elise Christie, the Scottish, British speedskater. Who, I’m a huge fan of Elise on a number of levels, she’s had a very tough time in life. She’s one of these young people who seen the worst of social media, etc, etc. And her book is something we’ve been doing for a year now or so, and it’s had a couple of publication dates that haven’t happened. It will be out this coming year or later this year. So that’s getting finished at the moment. And that’s been fascinating. Again, because it’s different person, different way of speaking, she’s also much much younger than me, which is something I find really, really difficult. Because as much as I’ve got two young sons in their 20s, I have some awareness of modern language and the sort of idioms that young people would use. It’s not what I do. I’m more used to people of Michael Lynagh’s age or older musicians, etc. So I’ve had to adjust to that. And it’s something I’ve never really thought about. And that’s been a real challenge in terms of voice. Because I have to speak like a young 26 year old girl. It’s been quite difficult, but really enjoyable. So that’ll be out this year. And I’ve got a couple other projects I can’t discuss quite yet. But in general, I’m moving away from sport, music, more towards current affair related. I find these are coming my way and I don’t know why that is, and I’m very grateful that they are but you know, current, I mean, sort of politically leaning stories that are coming my way, which I’m really enjoying getting my teeth into. And it, there’s a couple that are looming that hopefully I’ll be able to say something about on social media in the next few months, so grateful that there’s work there and just really interesting to see where we’re publishing is going. But one thing I did want to say to you is that the whole idea of podcasting, which is something that I’ve touched upon in the past, in terms of being a guest, a little bit reluctantly, I have to say, it’s becoming part of the currency of book deals in a way that it wasn’t before. Because before, you know, done a book, would you like to come on a podcast? Nowadays, publishers are looking to sign up people for a book and the podcast at the same time. I think that’s great, because I think it’s giving people a different dimension of that person and a different medium, all of which is great, because you can tell a different story in a podcast than you can in a book, and vice versa, I think, I think it’s a really interesting development of COVID. And it’s something that has happened very, very quickly, instead of the two being separate worlds, are now in one world.
Yeah, it’s fascinating. And I love this is the way that innovation starts to come where more and more of this merging of ideas and these merging of worlds. Yeah. And I think it’s really, really fascinating. Listen, Mark, it has been a joy and a pleasure. I’ve really taken a lot from this conversation. And thanks ever so much for your time today.
Mark Eglinton 1:03:40
Thank you very much, Al, it’s been excellent. Thank you.
I told you there was great stuff throughout this one. I want to say thanks again to Mark for giving an insight into the various experiences that he’s had, what he’s taken from, whether it be the family business, the caddying, the constant badgering of a friend to want to learn more, which led to being lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time, to just getting started and learning through doing. To me, it was great to hear about the art of observation, seeing things from a different perspective. And almost becoming a representative of the audience. It was fascinating to hear how many of the people that he has written with did not see the certain things that they have experienced or achieved as interesting. I do think there’s a lot of value in getting an external perspective. So, I hope you got a lot from this conversation and an insight into a slice of Mark’s world for a while. And of course, I can highly recommend you go and check out his books as well. I’d love to hear what you took from this conversation and how it may have impacted or improved your thinking. As always, I want to say thanks to you for taking the time to listen and I hope you’re getting as much from these conversations as I certainly am. If you’re enjoying them, then it would be awesome if you would just share them with anyone else that you feel may benefit as well. It’s greatly appreciated and I do love hearing from people who reach out to me and let me know how they heard about the podcast, especially if it was from a recommendation. If you want to know more about me and infinite pie and how we help people and businesses to improve their performance, or find their voice and share their story, then head over to infinitepie.co.uk and get in touch. It’ll be great to hear from you.