When the book went live on Monday it didn’t quite sink in. It had been talked about so much, prepared, drafted, redrafted and then proofed (and sort of proofed again) that when I told my little Facebook Page that Amazon took 8 hours for the book to go live, I was shocked that a message pinged back almost immediately with ‘It’s live now and I’ve bought my copy’.
From that moment it’s been non-stop. From the initial texting and messaging friends, family and acquaintances who knew I was writing the book, to strangers e-mailing me their sentiments about how the book, especially the homophobic bullying at secondary school made them reassess what happened to them at school and how to deal with it in a more constructive way. That’s what it was about really, having that conversation.
I felt I was I was talking too much in text so luckily I’ve managed to get out to a few LGBT evenings in London this week. On Tuesday I had a lovely night at The Royal Vauxhall Tavern’s Bar Wotever where I read a section of the opening chapter to an appreciative crowd. It was sweet to get some feedback especially from a guy who said ‘You’re like Quentin Crisp without the arch’, which was rather sweet.
On Wednesday my friend Chris said ‘You’re NO.1 on Amazon’ in passing and I thought he was joking, glancing at the rating on the website it said #9’679 or something ridiculously multi-numerate to be akin to what he’d said. Turns out he was right, in the Gay & Lesbian Biography section I am, ahead of the biography of James Wharton: Out In The Army (which I’ve read and is really good) and that biography of the man with two penises (which I haven’t read and can’t really comment on). This made me feel a bit giddy, even after some research that shows that NO.1 doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve sold millions of copies, but it does show a frequent amount of purchases in your book over time – it’s all about algorithms but it sounds rather lovely.
Last night I was at Lets Talk about Gay Sex and Drugs hosted by Paddy Cash at KuBar in London. I was asked to speak as it was a night devoted to Gay Men and Mental Health, and well I fitted the bill. It was a brilliant night that I am only just reeling from.
People have asked me ‘How did you write the book?’ and it’s hard not to be facetious and say ‘One word at a time’, but it was half jigsaw puzzle, half stream of consciousness. Originally the book was going to be a ‘patchwork’ of lots of anecdotes from the entire span of my life so far with no particular order. This was unreadable in a William Burroughs way, so I returned to it, unrandomizing the anecdotes and filling in the blanks. These blanks were years and years of my life, and ran into tens of thousands of words. This was me writing experiences about my terrible school days, hospital stays and dire sexual relationships; events I’d never contextualised before. I wrote it all down and then paired it back to the essential and printable – Not everything made it in, but not everything should’ve! It was a frustrating experience but fun too, and at the end of it is a book! I’m also looking forward to making ‘extras’ for the book. Whether that be blog entries such as this, but filmed trailers or readings or perhaps even a podcast!
It’s so nice to read peoples suggestions of where to take the book next; whether to give copies to psychiatric hospitals, or visit my old school and read from my experiences. After two years of putting together the book I feel it is essentially a tool to get out into the community and talk about the life not only I have led, but a lot of other people have too – and to work toward living better lives now and avoiding similar fates for people could be exposed to poor mental health, bullying and lack of self-belief. I hope the book connects with more and more people and we can carry on talking about this stuff. Onwards darlings.