From The Fishbowl

Scribbles about stuff

Archive for the month “January, 2012”



I’ve been overwhelmed by the support – or, at the very least, interest – that Not Quite Normal has been getting. (If you don’t know what NQN is, I recommend you check out this previous post, which should explain everything.) If you’re one of the people who downloaded Tomahawk, viewed this blog for the first time or just posted and RTed links, then thank you so much. It means a lot to me. I hope I can keep your attention for the next few weeks at least.

With that in mind, I now have a strategy for the release of Not Quite Normal. I uploaded a new story today, the second official preview. Well, the first preview, technically, since Tomahawk was only a test, but you get the gist.

The new story is called Endeavour and can be downloaded from Smashwords right now for the low, low price of free. This one has a cover and legal bits at the front and everything.

(Speaking of the cover, the image is from Flickr and used under a Creative Commons Attribution license. It’s properly credited in the book, but I’ll credit it here too. It’s from Flickr user ‘sensechange’, and you can find the original right here. It just caught my eye.)

Endeavour is a story I wrote at University, and it’s intended to be a cross between the theme of Frankenstein with the narrative format of Dracula. Both great books, incidentally, although you probably don’t need me to tell you that. I won’t say much else about the story since it’s pretty short (it is, after all a SHORT STORY) and I don’t want to spoil it. But it’s one of my favourite pieces and – I must say – one of the highest-marked stories I wrote at Uni. So it must do something right (write?).

Anyway, strategy. I have a release date for the final version of Not Quite Normal, though I’m keeping that to myself for the time being in case of unexpected circumstances. But it’s relatively soon and perhaps quite obvious. I’ve also decided to put up a new sample story every ten days or so. Obviously, since Endeavour is up today, you’ll be able to get the next one towards the end of next week (or maybe the weekend).

Announcing the anthology the other day has given me a huge kick up the backside. I’m being more productive than I have been for a long while. I’ve already gotten first drafts of two new short stories in the books (HA HA I MADE A TERRIBLE PUN) and ideas niggling me like a mosquito bite to my frontal lobe for more.

Things are going great, basically. So thank you again. Even if this whole project ends up falling flat on its face come the release of the actual anthology, I’ll know that I’ve tried my damndest to get it right, to get it perfect. And I know that there are some people out there who are interested in what little ol’ me is up to. It’s so nice.

Until next time!

A Serious Announcement

There came a point during this week when I realised that I was happier than I had been in a long while. For the first time in God-knows how long, I felt content with my lot, that things were heading in the right direction. I felt that everything would be OK. I’m still riding this wave and, with that in mind, I’m going to say something here that’s very important.

It started with writing, as it so often does. Last weekend, I published an eBook on It was a flash fiction story, of only 650ish words, called Tomahawk. You can read it here. I only really put it on there to test Smashwords’ system of conversion; to make sure that I could correctly format documents in such a way that they’d work on eReaders. I didn’t include a cover, a proper blurb, or anything like that. I was putting it on there just for myself – like I said, a test, right? I didn’t publicise the fact that I’d uploaded it at all – didn’t post on Twitter, update my Facebook status, sending begging emails to my friends, any of that jazz.

And then I found out that people had actually read it.

This fact blew my mind. People, out there, people that I did not know, people in countries across the sea, had read something that I had written. And liked it. That was the bit that surprised me most. Not a lot of people, admittedly, but way more than I was expecting. More than I would have hoped for even if I’d set out with the intention of it getting noticed.

Everyone who writes even semi-seriously does so first and foremost for themselves. That’s my belief. Writers write to satisfy some itch within themselves. Selfish. Self-obsessed. Their own worst enemy. I think  that most writers probably don’t even think they’re all that good. But, once committed to the page, the writer may then decide that they think it worthy enough to impart their work upon others. Maybe for money. Maybe for ego. Maybe to show off. This second process is the part I’ve always had trouble with. The vast majority of the work I’ve done is safely contained in the ‘Stories’ folder on my computer, away from critical eye.

I want to change that.

I’ve put a few bits online here and there. Never really been serious about them. If people liked them, that was cool. If they didn’t, that was cool too.

I’ve always had at the back of my mind that I might have some sort of…I don’t want to say talent, because that sounds too egotistical, but perhaps ability, to write, and write pretty well. When I want to. Some days, like the day I wrote Tomahawk, I hit every note like the expert Rock Band player that I am. Other days, I get booed off the stage, mostly by myself, and come to the realisation that I am utterly shit at writing and always will be and I might as well just give up now and condemn myself to a life of self-loathing and hatred.

So while I’m on the high of Tomahawk, rightly or wrongly, for good or for ill, I’m actually going to take writing short stories and other fiction seriously for the next few weeks. Almost as though it were my actual job. Which, who knows, if this experiment works out, it might end up being. After all, I’ve got a degree in creative writing, so I might as well get some use out of it, right?

At some point last year, I had the idea of publishing an eBook of all the short stories I’ve written, edited and fully completed, and selling it online. Then I got an actual job and my entire life got put on hold as I tumbled down the rabbit hole of depression. But now I’m doing it again, and making much more progress. So this is an announcement.

In a few weeks, I will be publishing my first short story anthology online. It will be called Not Quite Normal. And it will contain stories that I’ve written over the past five years (or thereabouts).

Now, there will be a build up to the launch, because I’m not a simpleton, and know that people aren’t just going to fork out good money to read stories they might not like by a person they’ve never heard of. Hell, even people who have heard of me and do like my stories might not even part with their hard-earned.

Over the next few weeks, while I’m putting the finishing touches on the collection, I’ll be putting up a select few stories for free. Then, on the big day (I don’t have a date yet, this is obviously still a work in progress), I’ll upload two editions of the book. One for free. No charge, on the ‘ouse, without catch. This will contain all of the free pre-release stories, plus one or two more. There will also be a premium edition. Which will cost some money, but not much. A couple of quid, no more. This version will contain all the free stories, a few more bonus stories, and extra content like appendices, and some other content to make it worth the asking price.

Hopefully, that will allow me to get the word out. Build things up. Try and get a handful of people talking. That would be lovely. I think I have enough social media acumen to try something like this.

I’m not expecting to be a millionaire out of this. Please don’t get me wrong on that. I’m not expecting thousands of people to read the free stories, let alone the premium collection. Hell, my hopes are pretty low, if I’m honest. I don’t want them to build too much. That would be foolhardy to the extreme. But I have to give it a try. I need to. And I know that making this announcement will make sure that I work my arse off to ensure that all of the Not Quite Normal stories are as good as they can possibly be. And to ensure that I actually do it. No procrastination. This time, it’s serious.

I’ll be updating much more frequently over the coming days and weeks about Not Quite Normal. I hope that you’ll come with me for the ride and help me to spread the word. It would mean a lot to me.

Thanks, as always, for reading. I’ll see you soon.

Start Up

Hello, and happy new year. (It’s still OK to say that on the 11th January, right?)

This would appear to be my once-monthly post. I’ll try and be more frequent in 2012, since it’s the last year of the Earth’s existance, or something. LOLNOPE.

As you may or may not know, this time last year I was unemployed. This time this year, I am also technically unemployed. Between these two points of unemployed-ness, I had a job. It was a job that, in certain areas, was pretty OK, and in others, was excruciatingly detremental to my wellbeing. In short, said job was starting to plunge me into a deep depression. I could feel it happening, sense it somehow, like I was ascending the Spanish Steps and getting more and more tired with every movement. A crash was inevitable, a crash that would almost certainly had a huge impact on the rest of my life.

So I left.

I know, it might seem to outwardly be a strange, brash, melodramatic or perhaps even foolish descision given the economic peril the world’s in at the moment. In short, I’m perfectly aware of the problems people my age have finding a job, so to leave one which was relatively secure must seem a bit, well, mental. But I knew, and still know, that it was the right decision, and I am yet to regret it one iota. Well, maybe a small iota. I mean, the money was kinda nice. But money obviously doesn’t buy happiness or even a sense of mental ‘safeness’ that I think I need to survive in this world. I’ll get back to this shortly.

Where’s this going? Well, where this is going is where I’m going.

Since the start of November, I’ve been officially unemployed, but not collecting any benefits or the like. I am intending to become a self-employed person of some description. I’ve already started my endeavours – selling a few items on eBay to bring in some cash. I also have a few projects in mind that are in various stages of readiness. I’ve worked on projects before, of course, but never with the intention of making money. Tell truth, the whole idea of making money at all – even in a standard, employed work environment – is completely alien to me. Of course I need it to survive and occasionally buy nice things, but it’s always confusing me as to why people with, from where I’m standing, little wrong in their lives (no illnesses, bereavements or anything) often seem to be quite so in desperate need of it.

Let me give you an example. A person I’m friends with on Facebook (I don’t know them personally and I’m not going to give their name) recently lost their job and is currently on Jobseeker’s Allowance. When I was on Jobseeker’s last year (the worst few weeks of my life, incidentally, hence why I’m reluctant to do it again), that equated to about £56. I think that was per week, but might have been per fortnight. It might have gone up or down since then, but presumably not that much. Anyway. It’s not a huge sum of money at all.

Now, they continually update their Facebook status like it’s a Twitter account on acid. Over the past few weeks, since they’ve been unemployed, the person has:

  • Visited the cinema several times
  • Continually talks about their journeys to the shops to buy booze and cigarettes
  • Was at one point thinking of renewing their (£9-a-month) World of Warcraft subscription
  • Talked about getting their lip pierced
  • Bought a £120 leather jacket
  • Bought several DVDs from Amazon
  • +more

Here’s the kicker – last week they posted a status saying that their card had been declined from Subway (presumably from lack of funds though I can’t confirm that), and just yesterday they said in a comments thread that they “haven’t been able to buy any games since I got made redundant”.

Am I the only person thinking that all of this is fucking nuts?!

I wouldn’t be thinking of doing half of the above list if I were unemployed and living on a pittance. My view is that if you haven’t got much money, you should keep hold of as much of what you do have as possible. For stuff like food, for example. You never know what’s around the corner. (Maybe an ancient Mayan is going to come down to Earth on a rouge planet called Nibiru and kill half the world’s population?)

The above example isn’t even a one-0ff – I’m constantly seeing people on my Twitter and Facebook accounts saying that they just bought a new car, a new game, a new dress, a new shirt, concert tickets, cinema tickets, holidays and the rest, and then in the next breath complain that they have no money! It just irritates the hell out of me. Unless you’re super-rich you’re never going to be able to afford everything you want to do, want to own, or whatever.


I didn’t even really mean to write any of that. If the person I made an example of above happens to read this (although I doubt that) and work out that it was them, I apologise, but that’s just my view.

The point is that I’m not really like this – I know my limits, what I can afford, what I need to save etc. – and I’ve never made it a perogative in my life to have as big a bank balance as possible. Obviously I now have to become a little more money minded, which I think is why I’m having a hard time getting things off the ground. All that said, I’d rather be happy living on the breadline than clinically depressed but loaded. As I said earlier, what I’m not short on is ideas – and I know that at least one of them will come to some sort of fruition soon. Keep an eye on this blog over the next few weeks, and I might let you in a bit more.

Thanks, as always, for reading.

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