5-years-ago I had just finished my first year at the University of Gloucestershire and I was adamant that I didn’t want to go back for my second year. My course was nothing I expected it to be and I felt like I was ready to close the student chapter of my life and begin venturing out to something different.
I decided to use part of my savings that I had put away for my second-year tuition fee’s and go to Rio de Janiero. I have been fascinated by Brazil since I was a kid. My father always supported them (and England) during the football World Cup. I was intrigued by the colours, the fans and the love and joy between people; what better reason to visit. Rio will always remain close to my heart because it was the first place I travelled around alone. 2-weeks of learning a new culture, language, food and a way of life opened my eyes to more. Having just dropped out of university, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do when I arrived back home in the UK, but one day I was on the bus going to see the Sugar Loaf Mountain and on the bus they had a screen advertising a UFC event; I thought to myself, I’d quite like to get involved in that sport when I arrived back home. I knew of a few local clubs and I was fed-up with boxing, so it was time for a change.
I came back home and it was pretty much straight back to work; I worked as a doorman on the weekends and a gym instructor during the week, both part-time jobs so I had time to train. I signed up to a local gym and before I knew it I caught the 'MMA Bug'. I was training every chance I could, watching techniques on Youtube and pestering my coaches with questions. Until one session ended that hype-train but brought on my creative writing adventure. I was wrestling with a new-comer in the gym and I guess his ego was more important than safe training and that resulted in me tearing my lateral collateral ligament severely. I was then out of training for 9-months.
I spent 6-weeks in a brace and after that, it was constant resting, ice packs and hot water bottles on my knee to flush off the inflammation. It was a difficult time in my life because in our early 20's most of us don't really know what we're doing with our lives; in and out of jobs, we bank on one dream and just like that it's taken away from you.
When I was in primary school I was diagnosed with dyslexia and I was embarrassed by it; I didn't want anyone to think I was illiterate and unintelligent so I read a lot. I took books home from school and I read to my mother and father; when I got stuck they would help me. After I became more comfortable with reading I bought comics because I really enjoyed them (who doesn't?) and read them weekly. I found it vastly improved my reading and writing and I was determined not to be categorised by my dyslexia. I just wanted to be considered normal amongst my peers.
2-months into my injury I began reading again, as I had abandoned it with other daily duties. Reading became a comfort for me again and soon enough I could find joy in it. I've always been interested in Native American culture and wanted to research and learn more about it. After 11-years of not stepping foot into the library, I returned to a fine and re-registering. Honestly, in my opinion, we neglect the library so much and we are so fortunate to have it, we should really use it to our advantage. I began taking books out about Native American culture, history and mythology. Enriched with beautiful and interesting content, the culture left me to wonder why these stories, philosophies and ways of life weren't told or represented enough to people. So I began to write; I took myself down to Coffee #1 in Gloucester city centre and sat and wrote Native every day. There were many ups and downs when writing Native, mainly because I had never written a book before but also because I wanted to really tell a story that represents Native American stories accurately but also in an entertaining way to captivate an audience.
Writing this book wasn't the only obstacle I faced; learning to take criticism, feedback and advice can sometimes hurt your ego, but it can also humble you and allow you to learn from people. Finding an editor was a challenge in itself, but finding an agent and publisher is still an ongoing task, hence why I decided to self-publish. Fortunately for the illustrations, I didn't need to look far from home, as my brother-in-law Adam Taie honoured my work by blessing me with his great art (for enquiries firstname.lastname@example.org). Sometimes we can be our own obstacles. It was hard for me to show my work to people or tell people about Native because I lacked the confidence. I felt people would laugh or judge me for my work but over time I found an identity as a writer and became more confident with it because I began to enjoy it more. The more I grew to love it, the more I took pride in what I had achieved. I am happy 5-years on that I put my all into this book and today it's ready for me to share with you.
Native is now available to purchase on Amazon, via the link below.