At the moment I am trying to put together a popular science book to try and find a way to make a living for myself. I am enjoying it and it is a very slow process because it is taking time to find the necessary research material. However this isn’t my first attempt at writing a book. I tried it once and I failed. That is a good experience to learn how to do it wrong and learn how to do it properly. I think it’s time I came out of that and told you how I got to be a writer in the first place before I became a blogger.
In 2007 I was a desperate and fed up jobseeker. I had left school six years ago and I had been enrolled by force onto a college course that I didn’t want to do. I didn’t have a clue what to even do with my life at that time because I was autistic, unaware of my condition and constantly pressed into adulthood without knowing how to manage my disability. My aspergers was so badly treated that I couldn’t develop my own independence. It was a very awkward time for me.
My first novel was called ‘A Baffling Unoriginal looking with a voice to prove positive’. A very unusual and odd name and I called it that for a reason. At the time I was trying to look for a title that reflected the bizarre behaviour that autism was associated with and the weird titles that reflected the bestselling book ‘The curious incident of the dog in the night time’, which was a book about an autistic boy who turned detective in a light hearted and heart-warming tale. However A Baffling Unoriginal was anything but warm hearted. I wanted to write a story that was based on a short story I wrote in a creative writing course after my tutor told me that I had all the makings of a novelist.
Now at that time I was a jobseeker I was looking for work with a branch of the National Autistic Society who were only helping look for jobs in fields which were designed for low skilled mentally ill people. I felt like I was being segregated into a dead end life of being on welfare and forced to accept that I was only capable of working in what I called lame brained labour jobs like gardening, charity shops, care home workers, office clerks. Basically the kind of jobs where you can avoid working with other people where you struggle to understand communicating with people. I felt so patronized and insulted by these people I was motivated to write about something that could show these people how powerful I can really be. Even if it wasn’t very pleasant.
A Baffling Unoriginal tells the story of a young autistic wannabe journalist called Scott Hardy who travels on the London Underground and gets caught up on the 7/7 bombings in Russell Square. He got there because of a row which led to him from his Mum to his nans and he is now on his way on a work experience placement for a magazine. When he recovers dazed and shaken from the blast he finds company in the people he rescues and starts to have the ability to show people what he is capable of doing. He makes a difference and as he does he finds a crooked human rights lawyer called Jane who tries to make a career opportunity out of this disaster. This horrifies Scott and consumed with rage and anger attacks her.
I told you so that it would not be a nice story for people of the autism community. I didn’t intend it to be something like a nice family tale about a person who wants to be loved, I wanted Scott to be a person who wants to be something of great value to society. I suppose you think having an aspie kill a lawyer in cold blood is like writing a story about a serial killer writing a story about autism in a negative light but there is more to it than that. I had actually channelled my anger and frustration into the writing and created a piece about my frustrations into a work of fiction. It’s like when Von Gogh channelled his mental pains into his paintings and created fantastic works of art which stand out in an extraordinary way.
Some other creative artists have also channelled their tormented and frustrated feelings into their work. Ian Dury of Ian Dury and the Blockheads had a disability in the form of polio that he caught when he was young. Like me he wrote a piece about his own frustration with being labelled with a disability called ‘Spasticus Autisticus’. He wrote it in protest at the International Year of Disabled Persons in 1981 by the United Nations. It was an anti-charity song that was a cross between a battle cry and an appeal for understanding. Drawing parallels to a Baffling Unoriginal I can now describe Scott Hardy as a freed slave of the disabled community.
I wrote A Baffling Unoriginal with an aspie wanting to kill a member of this morally bankrupt society because I wanted to get my own back on the people who were undermining me. I wrote it as a protest story as well as a story based on my own life and beliefs. Through Scott Hardy I had created a character that said ‘I do not want you to think of me as a prized cabbage on a socialist vegetable stall, if any vegetable I want you to think of me as a smart carrot who can change the world’. The National Autistic Society didn’t agree. They refused to promote my book because of the way I had made Scott an anti-hero of autism and so I had to promote it myself. I had got some good reviews for it in the press. I even had my local paper the Romford Recorder cover it.
I look a pretty picture and I have more reviews from other papers. One newspaper who wrote a review said that A Baffling Unoriginal was written in a style similar to that of Irish writer James Joyce in his 1922 novel ‘Ulysses’. I had a read through of it and compared the two texts. They were quite similar in their use of words and grammar. I wasn’t really all that good at communicating properly then because of my autism. I hadn’t been able to sell my book effectively and I couldn’t find any decent publicity or anyone who would want to sell it on. After 10 months I decided to withdraw from creative writing and find a new vocation in life. So from then on I started studying science at the Open University. And ever since that time I have been on a sabbatical from creative writing. However A Baffling Unoriginal is still available to buy on amazon if you want to see what my first novel is all about.
However very recently I have taken a life’s lesson from a famous failure called Walt Disney. Walt Disney is probably the most famous cartoon animator and producer of classic animated feature films who gave the world Mickey Mouse. However his rise to fame was dogged by people who couldn’t take his work seriously at all. In 1919 when he was 18 he got a job at the Kansas City Star newspaper. However he was fired later because he ‘lacked imagination and had no original ideas’ according to the editor. Later in 1928 he created Mickey Mouse five years after moving out to Hollywood with his brother to set up their own cartoon studio. Afterwards he started to become very famous and very wealthy and by 1937 he started making feature length films like Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan and Snow White. Disney got so loaded he decided to use his passion for animation to create theme parks that he described as ‘happiest place on Earth’. After he passed away his legacy would creep up on his former employers when Disney acquired a number of assets for their empire of dreams. Disney Inc. now owns Lucas Film and has all the rights to the Star Wars films and is carrying on the franchise, they own Marvel Comics film division and now bankroll all of Stan Lee’s comic book heroes and they also own the TV Company ABC. This last one may not sound like a big acquisition to some but if you look at the number of companies in ABC’s holdings you’ll find the Kansas City Star – the very newspaper that told Walt Disney he didn’t have any imagination and fired him! How funny is that?