When I was a solitary, bespectacled and distinctly oikotropic child growing up in Dundee, I seemed to be the only person in my class who brightened up when our English homework assignment was an essay. I liked writing.
The first time I actually (sort of) sold a bit of writing was in 1977. Punch magazine, then still in its late pomp, ran a “Student Humour” competition, inviting those in full-time education to write a comic piece about the year 2001. I bashed out my offering on a manual typewriter (with carbon paper) and posted it off—it placed second, was published in the Christmas issue, and scored me a cool £100, which was a very great deal of money. This was interesting …
Looking at the piece now, on the far side of the year 2001, it’s a deeply bizarre item. It was entitled Employment Prospects.
In subsequent years, I got myself published in a odd variety of outlets. To give you an impression, I stacked some on the carpet and took a photo. It’s essentially the content of this blog, in nascent form:
I’ve already mentioned my writing on words and natural phenomena elsewhere on the blog. But of all the stuff represented in the picture above, the only piece currently available on-line is a Wanderlust travel article about Chile.
In the early 90s I started writing for The Angry Corrie, Scotland’s First & Finest Hillwalker’s Fanzine. The editor of that fine organ was Dave Hewitt, who was setting up TACit Press at the time. I ended up writing a slim volume of humorous hill-walking stories for TACit, Munro’s Fables, beautifully illustrated with Chris Tyler‘s cartoons, and now long out of print.
So twenty years later I was increasingly narked to see second-hand copies of Fables being sold on Amazon for more than the original cover price, with not a penny of it coming my way. I had the material for a sequel, but soon accumulated a stack of mostly complimentary rejection letters from publishing houses—they generally seemed to like the stories, but pointed out that the market for Scottish hillwalking humour just isn’t that big.
So in the end I put all the material together, old and new, and published two e-books myself. Chris Tyler did me a pair of covers, in his inimitable style:
When these sold pretty well, I was able to build a physical book as a compendium edition:
If you’re interested in knowing more about these, they have their own pages (click the covers above), and also appear under “My Books” in the menu bar.