Friday, 26 April 2013

This is why I'm smiling, how about you?


Well kiddiewinks, it's very, kinda, almost the weekend!

Woo and indeed yay!

Anyway, you may have noticed that I'm in a good mood... Now some of it's because it's sunny, some of it's because I've eaten a large proportion of a packet of Dark Chocolate digestives, but most of it is because currently, life is pretty good.

Don't get me wrong avid readers, everything's not perfect... I'm still broke, the trike's still in more pieces than is technically good for it, and we still breathe a sigh of relief and do a high-five whenever the bill at Asda is less or equal to the amount of cash we've found down the back of the sofa.

But, putting aside those sorts of problems... I'm smiling.

What's that? Why is life pretty good? you ask, What's my secret for having a sunny disposition whilst the rest of the population is wading through its own filth?

I'll tell you... And it won't cost you a penny... Unless you want some snake oil, then I'll have to make up a fresh batch, and that can get expensive, have you ever tried to milk a Killer Whale without waking it up?

Listen to my story, heed my words, clip on your special ears, ├ęcouter la class, and you can be as happy as me, guaranteed...

A while ago, things were pretty crappy, I mean hack at yourself with a breadknife crappy.  The sky was black, the wallpaper of my mind was peeling and even own-brand vodka was expensive.  I bounced from bad idea to bad idea, trying desperately to keep up the facade that everything was great.

My friends noticed of course, I noticed that my friends noticed, because some of you aren't particularly good as whispering, and the words 'What's up with that fat grumpy twat?' do carry quite well.

My family REALLY noticed, every little annoyance of theirs was yelled at, minor rule infractions were stamped on, even things like having the audacity to watch two TV programs that I wasn't particularly enamored with in a row, caused stomping and slamming of doors and suchlike.

In short, I was behaving like an arse... To everybody.

I stopped playing Computer games (Well, stopped isn't quite right - I still played them, but I sort of played them for the sake of playing them, rather than actually wanting to.  The gamers amongst you will know what I mean.)  I stopped drawing, which is something that had never really happened before.  And I got all reactive, my answer to every question was 'Whatever', or 'If you like', or 'I don't care'.

The only thing guaranteed to make me forget about how I felt was posting wordy status updates of Facebook - It meant that I could say what I meant and how I felt, and there wouldn't need to be anyone to interact with, there wouldn't need to be a reason for it.  Some of them were funny, a lot of them weren't, some shouldn't and didn't make sense anywhere else than inside my head.

They were just me shouting at the void I guess... Momentary flashes of dubious control in what I saw as a passenger ride through my own life.  A couple of people commented that they were funny, or thought provoking, or downright weird - And that maybe I should start a Blog.  I dismissed this idea, obviously as Blogs are for self-indulgent wieners with too much bloody money... No, hang on, that's not right... I'm thinking of Ferraris, Ferraris are for self-indulgent wieners with too much bloody money (Except for the 1967 275 GTB four-cam, they're for connoisseurs) - Blogs are for spotty types who still live with their parents and believe that their opinions are worth more than other peoples.

Yeah, right - Not me at all...

So far, so depressed.  But then a few more people said, 'Your updates are funny, but they get lost in all the FaceBook chatter, you should put them somewhere else, like in a Blog.'

This went on for some months, and although I didn't start the Blog, I did start drawing again - And although I say it myself, a lot of the stuff I've done recently is the best I've ever done.  I was so impressed with myself that I actually changed my profile on LinkedIn (A kind of business based Facebook) to say that I was a Graphic Artist, with some IT experience, rather than an IT guy who could draw a half-decent octopus.

This tiny act made me feel a whole lot better, it was almost as if by re-labelling myself, I'd made a physical change.  Things continued to get better, I even sold some of my pictures Internationally (Although I'm still not convinced that these weren't pity purchases - But I try not to think about that too much). And then I got a phonecall from a guy I'd worked with a couple of times in the past, telling me that there was a vacancy at the place he worked.  So I went, and interviewed, and got the job.

The job wasn't hugely taxing, I've certainly done harder before, but the people were nice, I enjoyed the work, and my attitude slowly changed.  I started taking pride in what I did, and after a mass assault from Mrs & Mini Dandy, I started this Blog and started publicising it on Twitter.

If you want to exercise your brain... Try writing a daily Blog - It will turn your head upside-down and inside out.  But it's fun, and it gives you a bit of affirmation that you're not the most boring and useless person in the world (Whatever you do, don't start a Blog if you actually are the most boring and useless person in the world, it'll be crap and it'll make you even more depressed) - If you're interested, the Blog gets somewhere between 50 and 100 views every day - Which I don't think is too bad for what is effectively clap-trap.

Then, yet another person I used to work with contacted me out of the blue.  This improbably named, but lithe as a racing snake, gentleman said that he had another friend who had a Blog, and he thought that we might be able to do a bit of crossover work.  He needed some guest writers, and I needed more fans to affirm my self-worth.

It was in this fashion that I was introduced to James Josiah, one of the true behemoths of British Flash Fiction, and I started to write creatively.  I then started writing fictional entries in my, previously (almost) completely factual Blog - Hopefully you've been amused by both the Edward Teach and Mal the Hunter stories as much as I enjoyed writing them.

Then an odd thing happened, JJ published a collection of Flash Stories that had been previously published on his website as a book, on Amazon, which you can all buy (and you should all buy, it's great).  And he very kindly included one of my stories. (And through a strange quirk of alphabetisement, it lists me as the author... I wrote about 500 words of it, and that's all)

So, if you're keeping track, you'll realise that I am now both a commercially accepted artist, and a published author, I should really charge you guys for reading my Blog, I'm probably, like, the most famous person you know...

When this happened, I had a permanent grin on my face and became an Amazon evangelist.  Then I got followed on Twitter by a famous person, one Jason Bradbury (The bald guy with the glasses from The Gadget Show and Don't Scare the Hare) - I mean, he follows me (before I followed him, I might add) and about 49,000 other people, so we're not bosom buddies.  But I think he might occasionally read the Blog, I certainly had hits from Israel when they were filming the Gadget Show in Israel.(but I guess that could have been a coincidence)

And just when I thought my life couldn't get any better, (without a massive injection of cash, and all the people I owe money to mysteriously dying) - I've been given another commission   Now I can't go into detail, as the project is still in its infancy, and I'm not sure how much the producer of the book wants me to say,  but it's for a book cover, a book that will go on to be sold, very possibly on Amazon (See how it all just fits together? It's like there's a plan).

When I found out about the request, I nearly pooped, it's difficult to explain how excited I feel.

And that, dear, dear readers is why I'm smiling so much.

I honestly believe that if I hadn't taken ownership of my own destiny, by the tiny, simple expedient of changing my job title on Linked-In (Which I changed again when I got my new job, but the good had already been done by then), none of this would have happened.  This was my own tiny, flapping butterfly wing that created the oncoming storm of my unfettered happiness.

So do it, make a change, even a tiny one - you never know where you're going to end up.

P.S. When I told the MiniDandy about the new illustrating job, she claimed full responsibility, saying that none of this would have happened if she (and her Mother) hadn't convinced me to write the Blog - I can't have anything for myself!

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