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 properly as a person. When I was diagnosed with my autism I was in state of disarray and doubt for the future. My parents didn’t know what to do with me and didn’t think I would amount to anything and so they entrusted my upbringing to the school. But they didn’t have the right way of doing things for me. I hated school and I hated the way the PC culture in this school was telling what to think and what I should expect of myself. Ambition was offensive and you weren’t supposed to be clever, you had to take it as it was set for you. Otherwise you were dismissed as a failure.
I have just about the same taste for education as Einstein. He too hated school and thought of his teachers as commandants. My teachers were the same, I got so bored with the school’s way of doing things I put myself on brain strike on protest. I even fell out with my study support tutors who were worse than useless. They didn’t protect me from the bullies telling me to ignore them and the environment was so noisy there I couldn’t learn at all. I had to put up with lessons where everyone was talking loudly, group exercises saw no input from my class mates and the lessons were so boring I wanted to bung the textbooks down the lavatory. With a bad school like that you’d expect to move to another school but my parents made no effort to respond to my complaints. They thought I was so clever but mentally handicapped that I should just accept my right to an education but not try to achieve anything of significance and substance. Well it’s not my fault I was made out to be that stupid, the school didn’t give me any social skills training or disability management programme, I was processed like a cow to be ready to go to market.
After that college course at Havering College I had to go into college just to avoid being idle. I did try to make a career for myself as a writer and it was uphill work. I wasn’t getting any tutoring in college in creative writing. Because I left school unqualified and with no GCSEs I couldn’t take such a course. My parents hadn’t even read the prospectus of the college because they didn’t understand how colleges worked and so they assumed that by making me go and letting the tutors take me in they would put me on a course that would teach me new skills. How stupid is that? Throughout my life they have never tried to make any effort to understand my autism. Growing up I had a lot of meetings with psychotherapists and my mum often told them how difficult I was to communicate with. At that time I was denial about my condition because the thought of having a disability horrified me. I didn’t want to be stigmatised with a condition that made me look like a wretched hopeless useless spastic. Having a disability is like a death sentence and there are some others like me who can’t bear the thought of having that kind of label. They grow up feeling embarrassed and paranoid about what their mental health impairments do to them. It leads to them feeling suicidal, depressed and lonely. Fed up with what opportunities await them or else get segregated into a poverty trap and forced to forget about their dreams. But thankfully my parents, however much they struggled to raise me insisted that I would never be mollycoddled by a PC culture like my school. They never wrapped me in cotton wool and I am thankful for that otherwise I would probably have committed suicide years ago or ended up sectioned in a mental hospital.
The next story that came out that upbringing is my first novel. I called it ‘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 humiliated 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 he knocks her unconscious in a fight. When he and the survivors make it up to the hospital Scott takes his detestation of ‘liberal fascism’ even further by taking her to the basement and takes advantage of her vulnerability by persuading her to kill herself.
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. You see I had grown up in Britain during the time of the New Labour government which was so tolerant to all cultures and races that it had started to turn a blind eye to social problems. There was the human rights act being used by criminals to escape justice and a growing wealth from social-liberal at the expense of the country’s identity and national security. People everywhere were using the rights and privileges in such a greedy manner that we had become a nation that felt it was okay to be stupid, useless and idle. Public spending was so high that the benefits system was bloated to excess and I was made to snap up this welfare money and forget about what I wanted to achieve in life. I remember being told by the people around me to accept whatever handouts I was entitled to and that I didn’t need a job. I wanted a career so badly that I felt like I was being segregated on the welfare system just because I was disabled. Despite this I wasn’t all that idle and addled brained.
It was so awful, I felt patronised and belittled by everyone who I went to. How I could I accept my autism or the company I was set up with when I was being made to feel in a state of destitution. I felt sick and worried with it all. I can tell you now not all disabled people are happy with the way the position they are set with in society. When we grow up we get told that this is your fate and you are going to have to realise that you are destined for obsolescence and you should take a seat and watch the world go by. That is not what I want for myself, it’s like a form of oppression and a harsh policy for bright sparks who are denied their right to express themselves. I am not the only person who feels that way and there are some artists out there who feel the same as I do. Consider the pop singer Ian Dury of Ian Dury and the Blockheads. He 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?
So what’s my new project? Well for a start I have decided to stop trying to be too clever writing anything and everything that I think I can write. Most writers and artists fail because they try to create stuff they don’t understand. Being an artist or a writer is the same as being a business person. Not only do you have to have the decent talent to create something, you also need to have the skills of a sales person. Your paintings, photos and literature are not just artistic works they are products that can inspire dreams just like a home computer or a television. So stick to what you know and see if you can sell it. I am now focused on becoming a popular science writer. I’m a big science geek and I love to read and tell tales of wonderful achievements from great people. Walt Disney knew where to sell his cartoon animals and fairy tales and he did well at that because he knew it best. My market isn’t really autism and thrillers, I’m more into popular science and adventure stories. I think I am best served with that kind of work so I won’t be trying fiction writing again for a while. My new project is a celebration of some famous eccentrics from the county that is currently lambasted as a town of lame brained glamour girls and preened princes of excess. You’ll find I’m full of surprises with this tale. Did you know that Essex is the county that gave the world electromagnetism, taxonomy, the speed of sound, the lifeboat, radio, acoustic science, antiseptic surgery, the fold up pram and the iPhone?