Allow me to quote Nick Cave in the title here.
I knew I was going to have to write this piece sometime or another, so, I thought, screw it, let’s do it and get it over with. This is going to be a difficult piece to write. Stared at a blank screen for god knows how long, and Saint Nick’s “Are you the one I’ve been waiting for” popped into my head. Give it a listen on Deezer – it’s a good song.
But I digress. The title of this piece is there because it’s true. At least, in this case it is.
I’ve never been the guy to hide from the world. I’m an ugly fucker, and when you’re an ugly fucker, you ain’t got no place to hide anyway. No facades or glamours, just authenticity. And that authenticity means that I get to show the world – and me – exactly who I am. And this is how Discovering Leigh came about. A world built out of sorrow.
I have depression. I may have been in denial of it for a while, such a diagnosis and its subsequent prognosis is a tough pill to swallow. This depression is a combination of both circumstantial events, and good ol’ fashioned chemical imbalances in the brain. If I’m honest with myself, I’ve had it since I can remember. Since I was a boy. If you ask my peers during my primary school years, they will tell you I was always the guy wanting laugh, wanting to make everyone else laugh. I never made it to class clown status, I was just too lame for that, my sense of humour too obscure and corny, my face just too ugly for me to ever be funny. But this has never stopped me. I have combated my depression with humour my entire life. I deal with trauma through laughter.
Then in March 2017, I stopped laughing.
In the space of a week, I had two suicide attempts. Obviously, I kinda sucked at that, because I’m still here. The reasons why are wholly irrelevant, and the reasons why I did not follow through a tale for another time. My psychologist wanted to send me to a nice, quiet little nuthouse in the Drakensberg which sounded like heaven, but we just could not afford it, neither in time, nor in money. But I was still not the happiest camper in the toolshed.
Something needed to be done. So I got a Moleskine notebook and a Lami fountain pen, found myself a spot away from my office, and started to write. And write. And write. Stream of consciousness stuff like I was Jack Kerouac and his scroll. In other words: brainfarts. I wrote anything between 2,000 and 5,000 words a day with that fountain pen. (Made me realise just how good Lami pens are!) This stream of consciousness writing helped me cement my thoughts. No – not really. It helped me cement reality. Sometime in, about a week, ten days of this fountain-pen inspired brain farts, I noticed something interesting starting to happen: the stream of consciousness wanted to end, and cohesive thought started to form.
Almost thirteen years ago, I saw a twenty-nine year old brunette and realised on the spot “That is the woman I’m going to marry”. I realised it with a certainty as sure and steadfast as the sunrise. After a handful of lovers and a few relationships, I just knew: this is it.
When my mad scribbling started to form cohesive sentences, I knew it was time. I always wanted to write a book, and what ended up becoming Discovering Leigh had several false starts over several years spanning nearly two decades. But this time, like when I saw Andrea, I just knew: this is it. It is time to stop fucking around and “wanting” to write the novel. Now is the time to put the hurt, the pain, the depression, the confusion onto paper.
I fired up Microsoft Word, stared at the screen for god knows how long, and started writing “chapter one”, a header I wrote fuck knows how many times before, but somehow, never managed to evolve into “the end”.
It took me three months, and about 190,000 words to have my first rough draft completed. During this time I realised that sorrow can build worlds. I did not need to make people – including myself – laugh to combat my depression: all I needed to do was to give it a voice.
Discovering Leigh is not a funny book. It is maybe the first time in my life I did not actively try to be funny. I hope-slash-think there may be a smile or a small chuckle, but that is not what the book is about, or for. The book is about authenticity.
Discovering Leigh contains forty years of pain, both physical and emotional, and twenty years of good clean kinky fun in its pages.
I always wanted to write. For real. I wrote and illustrated my first story when I was seven years old. But nothing ever made it off my hard drive except maybe among a few pals. And as said, this book had more than a few false starts. I wanted to be the best-selling author with a Pulitzer at age 21. But life had other plans for me. I could not have written this book if not for the life-time I spent battling my demons, gathering my experiences, and discovering love. This book was built upon pain, but in the end, built me a world of joy. Of acceptance. Of Authenticity.
And now… now I need to tap into more pain, a new world needs to be built. The follow-up of Discovering Leigh has started to take form in my head. It is going to be a difficult journey. But at least I know now it can be done.
Buy Discovering Leigh here: http://gerrypelser.com/product/discovering_leigh/