Can I Have That in Writing?

02.02.15 – Day 406

11.42

Yes you can, because I’m now a published author.

I have my supporters but I know I have far more doubters and dissenters: when will these people give me a break? I’ve done wrong in the past. I accept that. I’ve made my apologies and surely 406 days out on the road is sentence enough? Read this blog and you’ll see what has happened over that time: it’s been fucking rough and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. So I deserved it. Fine. Get off my fucking back and let me get on with my life.

I wrote an open letter to my mum. I wrote a heartfelt poem to my parents. I acknowledged them and my sister, along with many others in my book. Maybe no-one passed the messages on. All I know is that the acknowledgements have not been reciprocated.

No doubt the thinking is that I’ve been sitting on my arse, doing nothing other than writing. Well that’s right but I’ve been doing plenty more besides, like bidding on every local authority property which I’m eligible for to try to get a home. I’ve been assessed for my eligibility for benefits and I’m awaiting the opinion of some self-serving bureaucrat as to whether I deserve to remain on the little money I currently receive.

So the thinking continues among my dissenters, why can’t I get a job, when I’m obviously well enough to write? Well, I’m ill. I genuinely fucking am. Yes, I’m still drinking but as my hosts will confirm, I have it under control. Yesterday I had six pints. Of coffee. That’s what I do all day most days: sit at the kitchen table, writing and drinking coffee. There’s the odd fag break about forty times a day but for the most part, I’m almost full-time writing. My mood swings are mere tremors compared to the explosive, irrational ones I used to have when I was pissed. My main medical reason for being signed off from work is chronic depression. There is no cure, only pills to keep the worst at bay.

I’m unemployable. I can’t tolerate being told what to do in any case, which is why I ran my own businesses for three years. So they went tits up because of my drinking. I paid the price and I still do. I punish myself enough without needing anyone else to pile it on. What do I have to do to gain forgiveness from certain quarters? I’m playing devil’s advocate here and I have my own demons but others are demons toward me as well.

I’ve always wrote as a hobby and as prescribed therapy. While I’ve had time on my hands, rather than rant and rave about the ills of the world as I see them, I’ve concentrated on channelling my writing more constructively. That’s why this blog has been sparse recently and that’s how comes I’ve produced these:

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The Paradoxicon is my debut novel. It’s published and available on Amazon for Kindle here. There are apps available for other readers and phones enabling them to read Kindle content. I’ve been working on the book for around six weeks, averaging six hours a day. It’s gone through numerous drafts and I’ve had many meetings with my test readers to polish it up to its final form. The feedback from readers and buyers is good and even though I say so myself, it is a good book. It addresses religion, science and life itself. As one reader commented, “You may look at life differently after reading this book.”

Travels to The Paradoxicon, as the name suggests, is what led up to the writing of the book: thirteen short stories, including the three which formed the basis of the novel. At the time of writing this, Amazon isn’t playing ball with uploads but the book will be available to buy for Kindle soon. My Amazon author page is here.

Bloodstained Knaves is the novel I’m working on now: it’s set in a post-apocalyptic world where law and order has broken down and anarchy rules in the underworld. Above ground, social class stands for everything, as what little infrastructure remains is the reserve of the privileged. A fractured government is still in place, seeking to rebuild a country and legislation is laid down which dictates that those able to rebuild and run a new country are given priority over others. Doctors are needed, as are those able to govern and police. Those who are able to rebuild are also spared: builders, carpenters, electricians… Everyone else is a disposable person. Involuntary euthenasia is employed so that the organs of the lower classes may be used to save those who are able to rebuild. It’s pretty bleak.

Okay, so I’m self-publishing but it’s the easiest route to market and the reader and buyer feedback, as well as my own humble opinion, is that my writing has definite artistic merit. Mainstream publishers don’t work like they used to when I first started writing. No longer are there teams of sub-editors with huge piles of manuscripts on their desks. Instead, the publishing houses scour the self-published markets for talent. I undertook a lot of research before going down this route and discovered that 15 per cent of Kindle sales are self-published work. Many successful authors started by self-publishing to get themselves noticed. It’s no longer vanity publishing; rather it’s a declaration of confidence in oneself. And what better marketing support than having the largest book seller on the planet behind you?

It’s a tough and very competitive industry and only a very few will go on to be successful and make a decent living out of writing. For me it remains something which I enjoy doing and if I can make a little money, then so be it. I’m allowed to earn up to a certain sum before any benefits might be affected. If and when that situation arises, it will be a nice problem to have.

Many successful writers write because they are unable to work, like me. They get paid very little and they give so much back with what they do. It’s a selfless job for the most part. I do enjoy it though and it is a job. I have written a novel which is published and I’m receiving royalties, albeit pennies for now. I’m a professional writer. I’ve written several short stories which are soon to be published. Six of them have already appeared in magazines. I’m writing a second novel. This is my job now. I grew up to be a writer. I love what I do, even though the pay is very poor. For now. But I’ve always gone with my heart and taken risks, even though some thought me foolhardy. What do I have to lose though, when I’ve lost everything anyway?

Likewise my other passion: cooking. I’ve had a few gigs now, cooking community lunches and family dinners. I’ve been paid too. Just like writers though, only a very few elite chefs will get rich on what they do. I have nothing to lose: little or no money but I have an ability to write and to cook. Since I lost everything, I’m not motivated by money or possessions. It’s about quality of life and at the moment my life is a notepad, a pen, a computer and internet access. A physical home of my own would be nice eventually but for now, I’m quite content.

The one thing I crave though is recognition from those whom I’ve perhaps wronged in moments of blurred logic but who I’ve apologised to. An apology is nothing if made and not accepted.

Yes, there’s a lot about me in The Paradoxicon and people who know me will see that. I only hope those same people do me the courtesy of reading the whole book though and seeing exactly why I form part of the basis of it. It’s about so much more.

Time and time again I’ve admitted that I’ve made mistakes: don’t we all from time to time? I still feel guilt, yet those who have kicked me out and about only seem to sneer and show no remorse. If it wasn’t for the kindness of others, I’m pretty sure I’d have died out here, like at least six of my friends have. By writing the book, I thought perhaps that I might make some people proud and not ashamed, yet all I seem to get is a brush off. Oh, he wrote a story. It’s a bit about him. It’s quite a fucking story, if you just take the time to read it. It’s not all about me. I’m one of the least self-centred people I know nowadays. For the most part, my hosts say I’m a pleasure to have around. There are dozens of people out there who will testify that I have helped them. I’ve even saved at least two lives in the last fourteen months. One of them was a teenage girl. She has parents. They still have her.

Read my book, get some character references and take me back.

The book is priced very competitively at under three US Dollars: that’s less than two quid in English money. It’s the price point recommended by Amazon for a debut Kindle novel. I don’t ask for much and I’m not begging but I’ve spent a lot of time and love crafting something full of messages. It’s not like I’m asking for something for nothing. I’m just trying to make some money from something I’m good at. And I won’t spend it on booze. It’s been far too long since I sent anything to my kids. Even though I may not see them, I’d like to put something aside for them. If you read the book, you’ll see the dedication at the front: For my kids.

So for less that it costs to buy a cup of coffee, you want it in writing? Please buy my book.

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