** This post is dedicated to Lance Queens, a friend I met only a few times in life but a man who spoke his mind, respected me, gave me support in depression, and every second of his life he supported the Cherries (AFC Bournemouth). We enjoyed a climb up the divisions together, 4th Div to Prem League. I last saw Lance at Stoke in 2016, and never thought to get a selfie with him. The amount of times we chatted and yet had no direct photos…save your tears, we went down…
RIP Lance, our friend. Onto the books…
“If it exists as a place, I’ll go to it” – Jonny Blair (on Northern Irish radio, 2016).
From 2003 to 2015, I wrote a book about my entire life and my travels, stemming from the success of the Don’t Stop Living blog (oh this one) and my boundless passion for the un-mundane while backpacking a world of pure fire opportunity. I was ONLY ever real and honest. Did you meet me?
“Up the Cherries; in all departments” – AFC Bournemouth fans.
Did I rave about Northern Ireland, AFC Bournemouth, Glentoran FC and the time I backpacked Iraq and worked in the best Irish Pub in Sydney? Yes, I did. It was easy. I could do it sleepwalking in my Bangorian arrogance. As for the book…I designed the front cover in 2015 just after I had visited my 100th un-debated country (on my real country list) and closed the lid on it. I was sure I would just release that book by the end of December 2015, continue my journey, stay happy. Epic guitar solo. How wrong I was…
But too many things happened. Yes, I am making excuses. The book has been completely finished for over 2 years now yet nobody really owns a copy of it – and apart from me reading it to my mates down the pub, it’s never been released in public. Yet I still kept telling people about it, but I never once made any real steps to release it. So why not? And will it ever be released?
Here are a few reasons for the book’s delay:
1.I had written 147 chapters. It was too many. I wanted 100 chapters for 100 countries, but not necessarily one to correspond to each country. This meant editing and axing. Venezuela and Latvia didn’t merit a chapter. Northern Ireland and China deserved multiple. Paddy Campbell, Lauren, Panny Yu, they deserved a chapter of their own…I saw this as a bigger challenge than the writing was. It was. I couldn’t delete mundane things like selling ice cream, forging interest rates, backpacking in French Guyana or hiking mountains in Malaysia, as they seemed pivotal in my journey. All 147 chapters were perfect. There was no deletion. It was a Dennis Taylor style 147 break in snooker. I couldn’t edit that.
“I’m so happy cos today I found my friends” – Kurt Cobain.
2.I am crap at things like this. The writing is easy, but the formal printing, organising etc. is not my strength. In fact, I generally hate the nitty gritty parts of jobs. Selling ice cream was a gift from God. Nine at a time…14 was my record (none of them dropped).
3.I contacted over 40 publishers in Northern Ireland, China and Poland. I decided I wouldn’t go anywhere else. Those were the three countries I most enjoyed (except for England which I ruled out). Only 2 publishers were interested. One in Northern Ireland, one in Poland. But I wasn’t interested in them. I decided to go it alone. In fact, I decided to stop caring. I was in France with the GAWA.
“We’ll support you evermore” – Northern Ireland fans.
4.I got depression in July 2016. I was getting ready to finally release this, when depression kicked in. I quit the main blog which the book was associated with. At the same time, I made some edits to the book from a WiFi bar (Browar) in Starogard Gdanski in Poland and then printed a hard copy. I used my red pen and slowly made some final edits.
5.I was on the verge of bankruptcy. I had wasted ALL my money on travel and health. If George Best had met me in my prime, he’d have grabbed me by the collarbone and took me down the pub.
I earned a lot of money in bars, banks, schools, PR offices, farms etc. in the early days of the blog (2007 – 2013 say). My work history is vast. I should be loaded with money. But I wasted ALL of it on travelling to 151 countries, the latest adventure was to Krolestwo Dreamlandu (the Kingdom of Dreamland).
I even earned an estimated $101,000 as a result of this blog, again not a penny to show for it. Any money I had, I wasted on ways to beat depression – psychologists, meditation, psychiatrists, medication etc. It didn’t work.
6.I decided to split the book into two parts, so this is the latest…
“I wasted my money on travel, food, football, beer and health. The rest of it is zero.” – Jonny Blair, 2017.
So there will be TWO books and not one.
First Book – Backpacking Centurion, “The Best of”
This will be the part one of the twin pack. I will concoct the best of those 147 chapters into a “Best of” book and call it, as billed, “Backpacking Centurion”.
Second Book, The Sequel – Seek Well, “The Worst of”
The second book in the series, often referred to as the sequel, will be a play on words and called “Seek Well”. This book will be the other chapters from the 47 that I deemed OK to publish in a “worst of” set – coping with depression and troubles with non-believers, liars and those who disrespected me and my story.
I also wanted both books to be honest and 100%, but sadly due to the intervention of GuruGods and wannabes into my nice travel life, I have to now edit some names in those books to protect those people. The stories will still be honest, but the names and possibly places will be changed. I feel sad about doing this, as I hate liars and dishonest people, but it’s what those people wanted so I have to respect it.
My Facebook post tonight was as such:
** WACKY SELFISH NEWS** With blog post to follow (maybe). In times of depression, a friend asked where my elusive book “Backpacking Centurion” was. And did I really write a chapter on that glory night in the Wadi Rum (pictured) desert? YES I DID, Ahmed Rum Stars Camp knew it was my 10 year anniversary that night and I had a beer as the sun sank, typing up my story. At that time when asked, my book was finished and in my backpack, printed on paper, fully edited ready to go. This lunatical culture struck Northern Irishman who smiled at every food vendor, pretended he was Norman Whiteside and found awe on every corner of the globe? The problem? There were two problems. 1. I had depression. 2. The book had 147 chapters and I only wanted 100. “Why don’t you release two books?” was the boring response. After sifting through the 147 (snooker break), it was clear they were right – I should do two books – one positive tourist report of my journeys around the world in a selfish, honest manner with 100 chapters (1.BOOK ONE – Backpacking Centurion) and a second book with 47 chapters of the bad times in depression (2.BOOK TWO – Seek Well). This has been a burden on my back in all honesty. Writing it was easy, the PR is easy, all the other stuff – getting it printed, organising the transition from paper to book and later for people to buy it has been the stigma. I was the horse that fell at the final hurdle. If you want to help redesign the two covers for me and be there for the very quiet launch, please write below (private messages NOT accepted 😉 ). Both books now have a title, a price, a text and I don’t care who buys them or not, they WILL NOT be FREE that’s for sure…nobody reads free books. They will also only be available to buy from me personally in cash. As before, the first book with be £19.82 (Arconada…Armstrong), the second book will be £11.46 (current capacity of AFC Bournemouth’s Dean Court). Neither book is being sold to rip people off or to publicise any companies. They are ONLY about my journey. When you ask me about charities, again, I have yet to decide but it should be close to my heart which means NI charities, mental health and suicide prevention. We’re a long time dead. Come and meet me, come and see me, smile for real. The books are inspired mostly by Norman Whiteside, my Mum and Noel Gallagher. #tourist #travelwriter #announcement#doublebook