The Hardest Word

Posted by Paul Samael on Friday, November 25, 2011 Under: Writing fiction


Just published a short story, “The Hardest Word” on  Very impressed with how straightforward the whole process was – you just need to be prepared to put in some time formatting the book correctly in MS Word (the smashwords guidelines explain what you need to do and are extremely clear).  This was a dry run for making my novel available as an ebook, also via smashwords (the key advantage being that it makes the book available in almost all major ebook formats).  If you’d like to read “The Hardest Word”, you can download it in a variety of ebook formats here:

 Here is my blurb: 

“Does the banking crisis make you feel angry, frustrated and powerless?  Perhaps it’s time you did something about that feeling.  You could, for example, kidnap a banker.  On second thoughts, don’t do that - try reading this short story instead.”

I'll be interested to see what people make of it.  Maybe they will just see it as gratuitous banker-bashing.  But I hope the story is a bit more than that - and my banker character certainly gets the chance to defend himself fairly vigorously.   The main thing I wanted to explore was the lack of any real acceptance of responsibility by bankers for their part in the financial crisis.  For example, if you look at the transcript of bankers appearing before the Treasury Select Committee of the House of Commons, you will be hard pressed to find a clear acceptance that they personally were in any way at fault.

Contrast that with society’s response to the riots over the summer, where a reasonable number of the individuals involved have (quite rightly) been prosecuted and given some fairly severe prison sentences.  Now banks’ behaviour may not have been criminal, but society can’t tolerate another financial crisis of this magnitude, just as it can’t tolerate repeated riots.  Yet society hasn’t really responded in the same way to the financial crisis.   It is as if we don't want to acknowledge how bad the situation is, for fear of somehow making it worse - but unless at least some of the individuals who were involved are held to account (just as some of the rioters have been), there's very little standing in the way of it happening all over again, once the economy has recovered (whenever that will be).

So I'm not going to apologise for writing a story that is deeply unflattering about bankers.  They need to keep on being reminded about how badly they have behaved.  And as for drawing parallels with the riots, I couldn’t help noticing that a recent Cabinet Office report suggests that some of the rioters were motivated by what they saw as greed on the part of bankers (see page 6) - presumably their logic was that if bankers can get away with it, why shouldn't I?

Finally, on a more personal note, I do a bit of pro bono legal work about once a month and we get a fair number of people - often on low incomes - who come in wanting help with making a complaint about this or that.  The first few times this happened, my heart sank because I thought they'd probably come in the belief that we could help them get compensation (which is usually easier said than done).  But I have found that in fact, most clients in this position aren't after any money at all - they just want an acknowledgement that they've been badly treated and an apology.  Yet in the case of the banks, these things still seem to be too much to ask.

Update 27.11.2011:  just uploaded a PDF of the story to - also very straightforward.  Scribd is not so good for e-readers, but for anyone who just wants to read it in a PDF viewer, it's fine.  And it's all free - funded, it would seem, by advertising.  In the case of my short story, the site rather amusingly serves up lots of ads for banks and financial services alongside it....  See: 

In : Writing fiction 

Tags: "banking crisis" bankers smashwords "financial crisis" ebooks scribd 
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About Me

Paul Samael Welcome to my blog, "Publishing Waste" which will either (a) chronicle my heroic efforts to self-publish my own fiction; or (b) demonstrate beyond a scintilla of doubt the utter futility of (a). And along the way, I will also be doing some reviews of other people's books and occasionally blogging about other stuff.
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