Simon on From Bullied to Black Belt.
“When I first started writing From Bullied to Black Belt I seriously never dreamed of the journey it would take me, take us as a family on. Inspired by my friend Geoff Thompson who encouraged my writing when hearing of my story I set up office in our loft and armed with my first computer (4MB if you please) looked at the blank screen, at the cursor flashing and wondered “What do I press to make it work?”
My first scribble was an article called ‘F.E.AR. False Evidence Appearing Real’, and I found myself shocked when Bob Sykes at Martial Arts Illustrated published it over six pages along with photographs. Geoff phoned me to congratulate me and ended the call with the words “So now you are going to write a book.” I laughed at his joyous humour until he turned serious. “No Simon, now you are going to write a book. If you can write an article you can write a book. There is a book inside you.”
More than a little shell-shocked I shared this news with a family member who scoffed. “Good idea, now get back to work.” A certain someone wouldn’t take this negativity though and when I returned home from the factory that night my tea was not on the table as usual. It was in the loft on my desk next to a glass of wine. As I took it in my wife Julie shouted from downstairs, “I can’t hear any writing be done!” And so it began.
My first draft took six months. Whilst I could certainly say the words some I couldn’t even spell but I ploughed through. I ploughed through whilst working full time in a factory and running a full time Martial Arts academy. It took its toll but would, I was assured “be worth it.”
After dumping draft one firmly in the bin I turned to Geoff for a top up of inspiration but his words were the same; “You have a book in you, a story. It’s up to you to bring it out.” And so I sharpened my pencil, well I mean to say I turned on Windows long before the crazy kids of today got Windows 10. As I waited for it to load I went for a long, long walk. Those of you who remember 4MB will appreciate that.
Another blank page beckoned and I set to work. Months later my finished product arrived. Now we had to find a publisher and I was told to expect many a rejection. I expected, they arrived but I was nothing if not tenacious and eventually stuck up a deal with a small publishing house. From herein I then discovered I needed publicity and at first shied away from such Tomfoolery but then accepted it was a must.
A local paper ran a feature on the book and a short interview obviously catapulted me into stardom…or not. As quick as interest gathered locally it disappeared when a band from around the corner released their next album…damn.
As the years passed we (my wife and now manager and I) got the hang of the PR thing. She harassed, sorry approached, radio stations, national newspapers and eventually international press and soon we were getting requests for interviews and talks.
A memory that stands out from most was when I was asked during an interview on air if I would like a certain song played, one that reflected where I could see myself. As the opening of Springsteen’s Working on a Dream burst through the speakers, the hairs on the back of my next stood on end…there was more to come.
From Bullied to Black Belt started to sell worldwide and whilst not yet a bestseller (we are getting there) it was making noise. Some twelve years on from my days in the loft and upgrading from 4MB to 5 GB I now find myself interviewed quite regularly on radio and press and attending award ceremonies. I was called to America to film a trailer and spent many hours in the MMA cage and boxing ring as I was filmed training with my daughter (3rd Dan Kickboxing Champ Luka Jake.) The training was followed by an in depth interview before cameras. Now where was this leading?
It is nice, I lie not but I know it is only a different beginning, I know that there is plenty of work ahead. How do I know this? I know this because after a couple of false starts and even more false promise by the inept, we recently started talks with a very serious player who wants to raise the story to a new level.
This very capable man is talking on our behalf to blue chip film companies throughout the world for a cinematic feature film based on the book. He is taking on advice from bestselling authors to see how we can hit the top ten and is serious enough about us to suggest a documentary.
Whilst I accept there are no guarantees I also know my faith in From Bullied to Black Belt is at an all-time high and that our journey has only just begun. I know we are now in a place where, as a friend of mine put it ‘the story can be where it deserves to be.’ Now we really are ‘Working on a Dream.’
Simon Morrell, 12th November 2015.
Buy From Bullied to Black Belt here