A couple of weeks ago, a lawyer accused me of being a creative writer, implying that Bullied by the Boss may be a work of fiction.
A coincidence: the bullying started in 2008 after I managed to get a work of fiction published. I can only conclude that Howard, my boss, thought I was getting above myself.
What I didn’t record online was what Howard initially said about my writing. He said it was easy for me to write a contemporary story and that anybody could. He said that metaphor was a ‘con’ and would send me prosy paragraphs to show that he could write better. He would read paragraphs from my novel to colleagues using comedy voices and encourage them to laugh. He would scour the internet for interviews I had done in the press and mimic them for colleagues. He made jokes about buying copies from Amazon as he alleged the book was cheaper than toilet paper.
If I got upset, I was publicly berated for taking myself too seriously. If I tried to laugh along, he made it clear that I was inviting his insidious behaviour. Seeing that nobody objected to his belittling my small literary success, he enthusiastically moved on to everything else he didn’t like about me. And there was a lot.
For a fledgling novelist, it took me years to recover my creative writing confidence.
I told myself that if I ever did write another novel, then it would be a historical novel so that nobody could again accuse of me of being lazy. I have almost finished this new novel and, until recently, I believed I had achieved what I set out to. It’s a novel from a male perspective and set in a time before I was born.
However, when I started thinking about the theme of my novel, I realised it’s about a character who becomes obsessed with revealing the truth behind distorted media coverage. In the case of my own life, of course, it’s not about the media, but it is about the bullying I went through and the lawyers who lied and distorted evidence to cover it up. So, somewhat unsurprisingly, I have written a novel about distortion and obsession.
Perhaps we can forgive what happens to us, but to forget we have to have some acknowledgement of what we went through by the people who put us through it. In the meantime, I suspect that there may be a number of future novels on the horizon where I find my preoccupation with truth coming to the fore.