IT WAS a desperate plea to help pay for the basics in life by an award-winning Scottish writer who can now count one of the country’s most popular celebrities among his benefactors.
When Nick Summers launched his unlikely appeal for financial assistance last month, he laid bare how his life was on the brink of falling apart.
Clinically depressed and recently diagnosed with ME, he faced the prospect of being made homeless as he struggled to finish his latest novel.
Sapped of energy, faced with a seven-month waiting list to see a specialist, and unable to take on a job to pay the mounting bills, he described his circumstances as “rapidly deteriorating”, with the resultant anxiety and stress only making matters worse.
After setting up a page on the popular crowd-funding website, IndieGoGo, a slow but steady stream of donations, most of them for £5, began to come in, along with messages of support.
But after a modest campaign to raise awareness of his appeal on social media, his plight came to the attention of Stephen Fry, who has endured his own well-publicised battles with mental illness over the years.
In a major boost, the broadcaster and writer donated £2,500 to help Mr Summers, and urged his seven million followers on Twitter to give what they could, asking them to “help make it happen”.
The publicity resulted in an extra £900 going towards the Stirling-based writer who, as of last night, had amassed nearly £3,400 of his £5,500 target – money that will be used to pay for rent, utility bills and council tax for about six months.
Mr Summers, who said he was trying to remain positive in an “awkward situation”, praised the “incredible generosity” of the host of the BBC general knowledge show QI – who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the age of 37 – and said he would be “forever” in his debt. The author, who won this year’s Nigel Winn Prize for Best Creative Fiction and is shortlisted for the Scottish Book Trust’s New Writers Award, started his fundraising campaign on 13 August, aiming to raise his target by 10 September, after running out of options.
Although there is no cure for ME, also known as chronic fatigue syndrome, treatment is available to relieve symptoms.
Mr Summers said: “I’m not very comfortable with talking about myself, especially my own illness and situation.
“I’m doing this really as a last resort, after using up my savings and earnings from the last few commissions I took before I started feeling too ill to work, so that I can keep on writing when my illness permits and, most importantly, keep a roof over my head.
“In comparison, it’s less than half of what I made as a part-time office worker back in 2008, so I’ve tried to keep it as close to the wire as I can, covering just the bare basics of rent, council tax, and electricity. As you can see, I’m in dire need.
“The main outcome I hope to achieve from this is the completion of my novel and subsequent publication.”
Mr Summers says his book, FINE, is a tale of “ordinary madness”, based on the life of a young man going through some “very odd yet completely everyday issues”. It will, he says, focus on depression and other issues familiar to his own life.
After “lots of pulling apart and putting back together again”, he said the novel is around 80 per cent complete. Thanks to his donation, Mr Fry is assured a special mention in its acknowledgements section.