Self-Review: Covering Image – Adjective Narcissism

This is a little bloggy-type thing, just giving you a little background into my debut self-published novella, Adjective Narcissism; the review of which you can find here (I don’t always link to this same review because it is the best one I recieved but, instead, because it is the only one I am aware of; believe me, I’d love to get a wider range of opinions on this thing, and I’ve even offered the thing for free in the past; I suppose that should probably tell me more about the quality of my drunken, experimental student madness than I want to believe, shouldn’t it?).


When I was a student, I didn’t really put as much effort into, well, anything, as I should have done; almost as I wish I had done now. I’ve suffered with something, not exactly a depression (at least, no worse than most people’s, though I was once prescribed tablets which I never ended up taking, cos’ I’m hardcore like that) but a miserable, disatisfied, borderline wrathful countenance.

It’s just, essentially, who I am and I don’t really see that there is a problem with it. The fact that I am incredibly rarely happy has made read more and, in the last year, write more; I’m constantly looking for some kind of contentment, even if only for short periods of time and that contententment manifests itself in simple things; an occassional beer, a lie-in, the ability to sit in silence for a time and just think; nothing too unusual.

When I started reading existentialism and novels which I really found myself relating to, for all that I might stretch that relation, I was also socialising more and more with other students on my university course. We used to have this final portfolio seminar on a friday morning, which ended at midday. Just as the nearby pub was opening, so a few of us would go there and talk about whatever, literature, music, they’d talk about sports whilst I went for a piss, we’d play pool and table football and try to keep each other entertained.

There was quite a lot of bitching, about other people’s work and personalities and, I have no doubt, they talked about mine and laughed at the low quality of it when I wasn’t there; I’d spend most of my time calling our tutor a bitch, for her resolute lak of creativity and her inability to comprehend any narrative which wasn’t either commerically viable or dictated by the existence of a few set rules. I’m just very lucky Rosemary Kay, the award-winning writer, took over for the next semester, otherwise I’d have probably failed, or come out with a third at most.

But, anyway, one afternoon me and this other guy got drunk, very drunk, so drunk that I think it was about eight o’clock by the time I hopped on the train back. I may have had to get off the train to throw up at some point, and when I got back to my hometown I realised I’d spent all the money I had on me, so I had to visit a cash machine and take out my last tenner.

I fell asleep on the bus, I threw up on the bus, I threw up into the heating system and over my hand and slept some more. I woke up several miles past my house, with very little money and a sudden alertness and sobriety.

And I knew how to write what I wanted to write.

anjc edited-1-page-001

It was a strange transformation; I went from fantasy and Dystopian writing to a more cerebral, political, religious and secretive kind of writing. I don’t know what that night did to me, but I’m a very different person than I was before it happened. Maybe it was the realisation of how low I could be, if I let myself, that I was an animal and nothing more, that I had done such evil to myself, that it didn’t come from some unnamed enemy in the northern wastes or some demon from below the mountains.

I wrote Adjective Narcissism in a little under a month, and I kept it to myself long enough to submit it for half of my assessment and then to show it to Rosemary, who encouraged what I was trying to do.

The front cover is a picture of a toilet in Liverpool, I don’t remember where, but I took it when I went for a piss and the urinal was full. I remember hearing the drip of it against the sticky tled floor, hearing some scouser throw up into the next cubicle over and hearing ‘Oh, God’ in that guttural accent. I could have left the image in urine yellows, I could have used the wall instead, a blank canvas with the occassional imperfection, but no. Stark black against tainted grey, a foul image indeed. And I absolutely love it.

I don’t know why I took the picture, why it’s so ingrained in my skull, but I think it was perfect, it is perfect, for what Adjective Narcissism is. Of course, that’s only my opinion, I might be entirely wrong, Adjective Narcissism could be a nonsense, a great folly, an irritating tumour on literature’s inner thigh, but there it shall remain.

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