How and Why I Wrote My First Book

In the world of professional writing, '20' sales might be a drop in the ocean. However, I am practically a recluse (even when not in lockdown) and I can count the members of my social circle on one hand.

What I lack in social confidence and the ability to form relationships, I make up for in the written word. Online, I can be as social as the 'beautiful people' who have loads of friends. It's nothing that I am sad about. I love my solitude. One of my major issues is that I would sooner speak the truth than tell someone what they want to hear. Although a few people have said that they admire such honesty, I have found that such admiration is soon extinguished when the honesty is aimed at them.

I digress. The promise that I would write a book was made several times over the last few years, usually after writing one of my Facebook stories. Such stories were usually accounts of an event that had recently happened. Stories of ridicule and misfortune. My technique is usually to visualise the event and wring out every essence of emotion that was involved. For example, one of my stories could have been told in one sentence:

"While cleaning up after my dog, my hand went through the bag and I had to walk home with shit on my hands."

This in itself is moderately amusing but says nothing about how I felt, my environment or how the situation transpired. In my writing, I attempt to relive the event in slow motion and although I usually write in past-tense, I try and create a past-stream of consciousness effect where the reader can relive it with me. Detail is essential.

Another great technique that can add to the humour is to describe a situation from an alternative observer's point of view. When you are in public and trip over, what is the first thing you do? You don't assess your injuries or check for further danger. You look to see if anyone was watching you make a tit of yourself. Being the observer is the optimum position if you want maximum comedy value. Enough about how I write, let's get back to the book I wrote.

As an easy entrance into the world of writing, I announced that I would compile all of my Facebook stories into a book. The writing had already been done so it was just a case of downloading my entire Facebook history and finding the stories that I had written over the years. It took hours but I found out that my story writing began in 2012, even though I had been on Facebook since 2007. When I finally assembled the stories into five loosely themed chapters, I discovered that I only had enough material for a 'novelette'.

After announcing that I was releasing the book and also promising to donate the profits to Barnsley Hospice, I didn't want to delay the project. It might be years before I have enough material for a 'full' novel-sized book so I went ahead with it anyway. I'd previously worked out that if I had 20 physical books made, I would need to charge £20 per book in order for each book to raise £10 for the hospice. I knew it was a big ask in such uncertain times and I still cringe a little about it being somewhat shorter than a novel but I'm kind of hoping that when people receive their slightly-thinner-than-a-novel purchase, they appreciate that the donation is more important than the product. We'll see.......

'FFS - The Misfortunes of Phil Ruston As Told Through Social Media' was finally released at the end of April 2020 during the COVID19 lockdown. The 20 limited edition print versions sold as pre-orders within 3 days.


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