Why I’m happy I’ve got my first rejection…

Last month I entered a writing competition with a £50,000 publishing deal for the winner. It was the first kind of competition I have ever entered and felt excited about getting someone who knew the publishing industry to read it.

I submitted one of my stronger books. It was 110,000 words in length and had in my opinion a gripping storyline. The title alone would entice people to want to read it and I felt I had a strong chance of winning the £50,000 deal.

I say strong, there were a few reasons why they may not have wanted to touch my book; the main reason being the book I submitted was my sixth book ‘The Pornstar’, which obviously explores the porn industry and has a lot of graphic sexual scenes as you would have to with a book about that particular subject. The book was definitely not smutty though, although it had a strong element of sex involved the storyline wasn’t just about that. I wanted to show that porn actors and actresses are normal people just like you and me and live relatively normal lives, but just happen to be in a profession that involves something that is considered taboo by many people but is ironically the most natural thing in the world…

The competition rules stated that authors would be contacted when their books were shortlisted for a chance of winning the competition, and we were told that if we weren’t contacted by the end of June that we should assume that we weren’t successful this time, and we were free to submit the book to another publisher.

June has come and gone, and since no one has emailed me back it’s safe to say they didn’t want my book to be showcased to the world this time, My first setback, and it’s fucking quality…

It’s cool because I’m stepping in the right direction; I’m letting the world know I exist and more and more people in the know are becoming aware of me. Only they know why they didn’t select my book for the shortlist; it could have been the subject matter, it could have been that they didn’t like my writing style, it could have been a number of things. Ultimately though it doesn’t matter; because nobody gets everything they want the first time around. After multiple setbacks comes pure determination and finally the slither of opportunity to succeed. And that slither is all I need…

I’m sure J.K Rowling, George R.R. Martin and many other iconic authors have rejection letters hanging in their houses somewhere reminding them that they never gave up on their dream. And this is my dream, for once I’ve finally found something I actually have a natural talent for and I’m not going to let one person’s opinion knock my confidence and stop me from doing what I do best. I’m not even going to stop if a hundred people coldly reject me either. For the first time in a very long while I believe in myself and I will keep persisting until I get somewhere in this profession. Of course, I will take any advice on board, but when someone suggests I will never be good enough I will use their words as inspiration and channel that energy and determination to prove them wrong.

So yeah, I failed this time. But look how far I’ve come since I started writing less than two years ago. Long may this progress continue! I wish the other applicants the best of luck for this particular competition but my time hasn’t come yet. There is a publisher out there waiting to turn my book into gold. It’s not the publisher running this competition, but he or she is out there somewhere. One day we’ll find each other and I hope we make each other some serious money…

Anxiety

By all rights I should not be an anxious person. On the surface I am a man who has succeeded in most things I have attempted and have achieved more before the age of 30 than most people will achieve in their lifetime. So surely I should be one of the most confident, outgoing people out there right?

I was never an anxious person back in the day, If I wanted to do something, I simply got my head down and did it through pure determination. Some things were easier than others, but in general I tended to hit my near impossible targets I had set myself looking back at them.

I came back to England over six months ago expecting some form of a culture shock knowing it would take a while for me to adapt back in life in England, as five years is a long time and this country – and everyone else -has moved on without me. But the truth is I knew I didn’t feel myself before then, and I knew deep down I needed some form of help once I had finished my sixth book ‘The Pornstar’ and swiftly decided to give my brain a rest.

However six months later I was still finding it difficult to hold a conversation in English (which must sound strange when you consider I am an author), I had forgotten my extensive vocabulary and more often than not would stare at people blankly when they were talking to me, unable to absorb anything they were saying to me or react quickly enough like a normal human being would. I even found it difficult to be able to write something vaguely compelling. To be frank, I felt like I had become stupid…

Last week I went to the doctor realising that self-diagnosing creates more questions than answers, and when I went there I was diagnosed with a mild form of anxiety and/or depression.

I don’t like the word ‘depression’, mainly because of the stigma attached to it. Sure, I’m ‘sad’ sometimes but isn’t that what makes us human? To experience such a vast array of emotions and get through to the other side makes us better people in the long run. Whereas depression in my eyes was an easy excuse to throw around and use when I couldn’t achieve my ever growing list of goals. I don’t want excuses, I want results…

Anxiety felt the same way for me. However I know I’m not 100%. I’m currently working in Suffolk and have some incredible people around me (I know that’s an easy thing to throw out, but I mean it.) these people have no connection to me whatsoever, and I know right now I’m not an easy person to be around, but they keep persevering and going out of their way to be nice to me when it would be much easier to go through the motions and take the piss out of me behind my back. Maybe they are, you never truly know what is going on in someone else’s head, but I don’t get the impression that they are two faced; and when I do (And I will…) recover for this horrific mental illness, they will be an integral reason for me getting back to normal again, and there is no way I could ever repay them…

Mental illness is something that gets swept under the carpet because you can’t see it so it can’t be there. “You don’t look ill.” and “Just go and do it, what’s the problem?” Are two common phrases that people who have these illnesses hear quite often. I recently read that Zayn Malik cancelled his tour due to anxiety, cue thousands of people sending him abuse saying that his excuse is obviously bullshit. But I get it, and I really feel for the guy. If you met me for the first time and heard about how I’ve travelled around the world, can speak three languages, can do football freestyle tricks (well, used to anyway…) and write novels for fun you would expect someone exuding confidence to be facing you. But all I feel are nerves. There are no reasons for this, it’s just something I have built up in my head and the simplest of tasks such as talking to a co-worker can fill me with such dread in case I make a fool of myself. And this is not me, I’m a happy go lucky person with a quick wit usually, but anxiety can take that away from you and slowly erode your confidence until you are too scared to even leave your house.

It’s a long road to recovery, but I am getting better which is the key thing. I can’t wait until I am mentally ready to face the challenges of life again because I still have a lot of unfinished business with the world, lots of countries I haven’t explored and lots of books I haven’t written. One day I will look back on this year and see it as an obstacle I had to overcome, but for now it is solely about recovery. For those of you who think I have stopped everything you will be pleased to know I haven’t, I have simply slowed down. For example:

  • I have my fifth book ready to be published, all I am waiting on is the book cover and that will be available to buy
  • My sixth book is currently being reviewed in a publishing competition, and if it gets rejected I will continue to submit it to other publishers
  • I am currently saving some money so I can continue to travel, then possibly settle in another country that I fall in love with and experience a new culture
  • I have created a profile for ‘Upwork’ to generate another revenue of income through writing and gain experience in this field
  • I will be writing a guest post very soon promoting my other three published books
  • Although I have stopped writing book number 8 for the time being, I am still jotting down notes for it every so often for when I am mentally ready to continue writing the book again

Anxiety is something that the majority of people will go through at some point in our lives. I know more than anyone how frustrating and embarrassing it is when you can’t let your true personality shine through, but I want to tell any of you that may be suffering in silence that you have nothing to be ashamed of. I got it, and I have all but beaten it now, but for many of you who are too scared to tell anyone about anxiety please talk to someone and don’t be scared of what others think, chances are they are suffering as well and are too afraid to tell you. Talking about it to the right people was a key aspect to my very long recovery and I would encourage people to do the same…

One thing I have learned in the last few years is that the world is full of beautiful people who won’t mock you when you are struggling to be yourself, but see you for the real you and want to build you up and see you thrive in being yourself again. I was fortunate enough to have a great group of family and friends behind me and the worst part is over for me, I see light at the end of the tunnel and I’m starting to feel like the old me again, but for others it may not be as simple as that. Please believe in yourself, because I believe in you…

Thai Reunion in Guildford

20160601_124627

As an English teacher you normally put all of your energy into helping your students pass their exams, then worry about the exams more than they do as they are taking them. If you are lucky enough to get them to pass you normally never hear from them again apart from a thank you email. So they end up carrying on with their lives and all the students are to you is a fond distant memory…

Fortunately for me I’m back in England again, as are a couple of my former students, who poetically are dating each other now. One day I messaged the girl and said I wanted to come down by train and see them. So we arranged a date that would suit us all and I got my small but firm arse onto the train.

Somehow I managed to get the slow train from Waterloo to Guildford so I was 30 minutes late, but sure enough as I got there both of them were waiting for me at the train station.

20160601_153757

I shook Prai’s (the bloke) hand and gave Amm (By process of elimination she must be the girl…) a hug. Then they said they had booked a table for us at a Thai restaurant called ‘Thaikhun’ and we skipped there like carefree schoolgirls…

20160601_122837

We got to the restaurant and the waitress (a Thai girl) started freestyling at us in Thai. Then she looked at me nervously and said something in Thai quietly so I couldn’t hear what she said. But I smiled and simply replied “It’s OK, I can speak Thai too.” In Thai. We all had a nervous giggle and she felt more comfortable around me now she knew she could speak her native tongue and not feel like she was being rude because I couldn’t follow what was going on.

20160601_124536

Let the annihilation commence…

It didn’t stop there though; Amm then insisted that I order everyone’s food in Thai. Something that was relatively easy for me six months ago but now I’m a bit rusty. Also I didn’t know what the other two wanted to order, so I kind of guessed what they wanted by what we had casually discussed was on the menu earlier. I think I won…

20160601_124559

My outstanding camera skills…

The food was good. we then chilled for a bit, spoke a bit more Thai and threw in a bit of English every now and then. Amm and Prai insisted that they would pay for the food which was nice of them, but not only that, they got the waitress to put the leftovers in plastic containers for me to take home and scoff shamelessly the next day.

Prai then said he had to go home and study, so I said goodbye to him and me and Amm went to some posh tea room to talk about the finer things in life. I felt very middle class sipping my hot chocolate discussing visas and foreign education with Amm.

20160601_143601

Soon it was time for me to go back home, so Amm took me to the train station and I said goodbye to her. I hope we catch up again before I do disappear out of the country again. It was really nice to see how they were getting on in my country after our classes had long since finished back in Thailand. They had experienced a huge culture shock and I was happy to discuss this with them amongst other things. They said they would like to come to Needham Market one day so it would be nice to have them here. I’ll probably get them to do something very English like an afternoon tea or something. Until next time my friends! C’e vediamo dopo. Wat… that’s Italian. I meant ‘Sa wat dee kap, choke dee na kap. Jur gan mai’ (I don’t have a Thai keyboard, nor can I write in Thai, so that’s the best I can do…)

13340706_10153571084715667_227865023_o