I promised a post from Val Penny today. Unfortunately, some bad news meant that Val was unable to write the post. Unfortunately, you’ll have to put up with a post from me, instead. Fortunately, some good and very exciting news has given me the impetus for this post. And here is that news:

Cultivating a Fuji is going to be published by Crooked Cat Books in May 2019.

This is a novel I’ve been working on, on and off, for a long time. It involves a character who is very dear to me and a topic that is so important. But most of all, although I have to say it myself for now, it’s a delightful story, told with emotion and a lot of humour.

The premise of the novel, the piece of information that kicks off the story, is that Martin is being sent to Japan to represent his company. And if that hasn’t shocked you, it’s because you don’t know Martin. Oh, but you will know him. First, you’ll know him from the outside. Then you’ll keep watching through the lens as the camera zooms in and drills to the inside of his head.

Announcement Banner for Cultivating a Fuji

What happens in Japan is interesting. But that’s only the beginning, the catalyst for the rest of Martin’s life. Don’t worry; this isn’t a biography, told as a series of isolated events. There are just two short periods, seasoned with flashbacks and enveloped by the future. Keep reading (when the novel is available, that is) because even when you think there can be no more surprises, you’ll discover another.

There’s a woman, too, called Fiona. She and Martin meet late in life and she brings her own baggage to the relationship.

And one more thing: Martin isn’t me. Although social anxiety has touched both of us with its sorcerous sceptre, we had different genes and different experiences, and Martin was affected in different ways to me.

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AliensI was delighted to see that at least two people identified with the sentiments of my last post. Delighted that they really got it. Why? Why do I care whether others feel the same way as I do?

As children, our natural tendencies are to want to be like everyone else. We fear being singled out as “different”. But as we grow up, we don’t mind that so much. We even want to be different, to be individuals, not one of the herd. Up to a point. Because if we’re too different, we’re considered weird and that’s not good.

So we hail our individuality and then seek out similar individuals. We form groups of individuals who are all the same. Because really, most of us don’t want to be different at all.

People who suffer from social anxiety feel very different. They know that others think they’re weird and this increases their discomfort in society and causes them to hide from it. Most people who join a social anxiety forum say this: “I thought I was the only one in the world with these problems. I’m so glad to have found other people who go through what I go through.”

This is one of the reasons why I want to publicise the disorder. To help sufferers to feel less isolated in a tough world. We all need to connect to others who understand.

No man is an island, entire of itself.” ~John Donne (1572 – 1631)

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