"Behind the Scenes" of Which Way is North?
Last month, I released my debut book to the world; a collection of fifteen short stories called "Which Way is North?". It was the culmination of a year filled with creative writing, the launch of a podcast, and my promise to myself that for once, I'm actually going to keep up with this writing thing.
I've gone through waves of being very into my writing, and I've equally had long periods of time where nothing creative was happening at all. I decided at a young age that I was going to write books, and I've made several attempts at starting one, which have almost always trailed off and led nowhere. The first of these attempts I can remember was when I was just fifteen years old; I plotted out a fantasy story about a young boy named Gilfond (Yes, I still remember the name!). I don't remember all the details of the story now but I do remember that he would have stood up to an evil force of some kind that had taken control of his city, he would go on a quest in which he bravely turned down a temptation of kinds, and he would successfully vanquish the aforementioned forces of evil before tragically dying in battle.
Spoilers! But not really, because I decided that this wouldn't be the story I was going to tell, and made attempts at other writings - fantasy once again, but these were even less formed ideas than Gilfond's story. And then, in my mid-twenties, I actually wrote a whole contemporary novel (of around 100,000 words) about a young woman named Paula, a high school English teacher who is diagnosed with cancer and wants to be a singer in a rock band. I spent a long time writing that one, and then put it away for years, believing it to be not very good...
I sort of saddened myself over Paula's story - I felt a little like I'd failed, and so my writing took a bit of a long break once again. However, this year, I started writing a lot of short stories of varying genres. I wrote in ways I had never tried before, I wrote about subjects I hadn't touched on before, and I had a really good time.
2020 has been a really hard year in my personal life. If you've read the introduction to my book (Which you can see for free on the "look inside" part of my book's Amazon page), you'll have had a glimpse into the sort of things that have been going on. But two things have been very important in my processing, healing, and moving on: my daughter, who makes me smile and cry tears of joy often, and my writing. This year, writing wasn't just this thing I did that was quite fun - it was a hugely important tool in helping me to process things.
I launched the "Short Stories by Chris Morris" podcast while I was feeling really down about where I was in life. I felt completely alone, I felt like I had failed in my career, in relationships, and I honestly began to believe that I didn't have much of a future. It was then that I wrote a story called "Is There Anybody Out There?", which was about a guy named Chris (Hmm...) who was trapped in a horrible, bleak landscape where all he could see were the things that he thought he had failed in, or was failing at.
And something quite amazing happened with that story; before I wrote it I felt extremely low, depressed, hopeless, and pathetic. But as soon as I finished it, it was like I got it all out of my system, and I went to bed feeling happy. Not long after, I applied for a few jobs, and was successfully moved to the interview stage for all of them. The interviews went well too - I was offered the job for all of them but one. This was a massive confidence boost for me, and I honestly think that it was massively down to the story I wrote. I'm not being hugely egotistical and telling you it's a brilliant story (although, I think it's pretty good!), it's just that I found a way of using writing that profoundly affected my mindset and helped me to achieve something really good.
I'm now working a job that, so far, I really, really like. I work in a high school as a pupil support assistant, mainly with one young pupil who needs extra support at school. So far, I've found it really rewarding, and it's the kind of job I never would have found or even considered if I hadn't been through such a rough year and then got me emotion out on paper and out of my system.
So I've decided to embrace the part of me I've neglected for too long. I'm a writer. And a writer needs books, yeah? So I decided to put together a collection of some of the writings I had done over the course of the past few months as a starter, and I very much plan to keep going (hence the growing social media presence, Goodreads and Amazon author profiles, and this website!).
Which Way is North? has stories ranging in genre and I'm excited to share this with others and a little blown away to see that quite a few people have picked it up, and also enjoyed it! I particularly enjoyed writing the funny stories like Contingency Plan, Back to School, and Earlingdale Town (title shortened...). But I also enjoyed exploring different ways to write more dramatic stories, like The C Word and I've Been Thinking Blue. I enjoyed writing a horror story called Caroline which was mainly for my podcast at the time, and I wonder if anybody has been able to figure out exactly who Caroline is and what that story is really all about (Feel free to email me with your theory!).
The title, and the fact that the book is so mixed in emotions and feels a little scrambled is an apt way to describe how I felt during 2020. I'm still not sure if I've quite found North, but I've certainly found a path which is very exciting, and filled with joy and opportunity.
I'm really excited about this new part of my life which is writing, writing, writing. I am motivated to continue creating stories for my podcast, for books, and there will also be a few appearing here on this blog occasionally. Thank you to all who have shown me support thus far; I'm mainly doing this for myself but to see that others are so encouraging and enjoying what I'm doing is a very nice bonus.
Which Way is North? is available in paperback and Kindle formats worldwide on Amazon. You can search on Amazon or head over to the Shop page on this website. It's also available as part of your Kindle Unlimited subscription if you have one, so please do check it out. I hope you enjoy it!
Here's to a creative and writing-filled 2021.
And yes, Paula's story will be told very soon...