If you're reading this, then you've likely read the entirety of The New Twenty. And if that's the case, you will never know how grateful I am for that. But I'll try to explain it here.
By all rights, this book should never have come to be. In trying to get it made as a TV series, it faced more rejection than the A.V. club during prom season. But all the while, I believed in it and I thought these characters and their stories would resonate with an audience.
So when @twylarae told me about Wattpad, I saw an opportunity to reach an audience directly and see if I was right or if the gatekeepers were justified in turning it down. The results were beyond what I could have expected.
To the degree to which this can be considered a success is due in large part to the loyal readers and fans of the book. After posting the first three stories, the readers' comments, votes, and messages are what fueled me to write the final three.
And I am convinced that the Watty's win was mostly because of how much people commented and shared their love for it. Someone posted that you can't win a Watty unless you have a million reads. This book had 17,000 reads when it won. So it wasn't the quantitative metrics that caught the judge's attention. I am sure it was how much people really connected with the material and shared that online.
So the point is I didn't win a Watty for this story. WE won a Watty for this story. So if you've read voted and commented on the book all the way through, feel free to tell your friends you won a Watty. I'll back you up on it.
People have asked if it is autobiographical or completely made up. The answer is both. There is no character who is 100% based on any real person. I can be found in Jeff (found myself looking for a way to reinvent myself at 40) Niko (I HATE it when people misuse literally and ironically) and Louie (The 13 beer anecdote in the last story sadly saw me playing the Louie role in real life)
But there are little nods to real life people in here. I did play high school (JV) basketball with my good friend Junior. We did do the bus pull in Grade 10. But most of the homages came in The Six-Month Backslide.
Many people asked me why the long break between posting the 5th and 6th stories. The answer is because I lost two very close friends of mine just over a month apart and it took me a while to get to the place where I could try to be funny again.
My friend David Widdicombe was a beautiful man and a writing colleague. He always gave me the best notes and advice on my work. I was looking for a backdrop to set the 6th story against and I had a flash of inspiration one night. I could set it at a funeral and base it on his good friend Ross who David looked after. Ross was in his 90's and we used to take him out for dinner. This ice cream story in Backslide was Ross through and through. So I thought to myself, I'll have to give David a shout and see if he thinks it's okay if I act on this latest flash of inspiration. The next day I received news that he had passed away. I am certain, that inspiration came from David who tapped me on the shoulder and said "Go get 'em big boy." Even though that's not something he would ever say in those words.
The following month, I lost one of my best friends from high school through today in Dr. Stephen Moore. He wasn't a chemist but rather had a Ph. D in medieval literature. Steve was the kindest, funniest, smartest guy I've ever known. A really wonderful person. So I wanted to pay tribute to his memory by naming the teacher character after him. The teacher was loosely based on W R D Coffey who passed away earlier this year. He was my history teacher all through high school.
So I hope you will indulge me sharing these memories of my friends and how they influenced the last story in the book.
As for the future, I plan to write another volume of The New Twenty stories as I not so subtly hinted at at the very end of this one. But please don't ask me when. I want to start working on a straight out novel next which I plan to start posting in early 2018. And then probably Volume II will come after that.
So to the loyal readers and fans, again I sincerely thank you for all of your love and support. As it turns out this was not a colossal waste of all of our time.
YOU ARE READING
The New TwentyHumor
***WATTYS 2017 WINNER*** When the newly single, 40 year-old Jeff Dempsey suffers an agonizing humiliation at his high school reunion, he comes to realize he has accomplished almost nothing with his life. Armed with this new found insight, Jeff char...