Thursday, February 17, 2011

Don Booker

Who is Don Booker? It's a question I get asked sometimes, and to dispel accusations that I comment politically or otherwise under some false hood, maybe today would be a good time to write about how the character of Don Booker came about.
For that, we have to go back to the late Summer of 2009. I found myself in a bit of a hole, a film project I had worked on for free for 6 months was pulled just six days before the shoot date. I'm not going in to the ins and outs of that, I felt let down by the so called driving force behind the project.
It was then the full impact of my unemployment hit me in the face. Jobs were disappearing from job websites and newspapers. The ones that remained I didn't get. While working on the film project I felt it was time well spent, as it provided an opportunity for the future. When that went, the future didn't look so bright.

I found myself having a meet-up with an old friend, a very talented musician by the name of Gerry Tully. We'd worked together back in the hey-day, but life lead us off in many directions, and apart from accidental run in, we didn't really see much of each other.
Gerry, who has endeavored to cut out his own creative path, particularly in the area of music, kinda knew what I was up against. He suggested keeping a blog, and when he asked me what it was I always wanted to do, he said why didn't I write a book.

Within 24 hours Don Booker had been born and this blog started. Most of the early writing was posted here until I fully understood who the character was, and then trying to create a story around him.
That took 3 months in total but I finally got there, through a combination of writing everyday and planning how the type of book I wanted to write could be structured.
I'd certainly be lying if I said Don Booker isn't pretty political, the injustices of life pulling him closer and closer to the brink of nihilism.
The book started pre-Lisbon 2. We find out who Booker is, and what it is that ails him. While at times it made for bleak material Don always retained a little humour. It was the only way, I, as a writer, could tackle some of the themes I chose to explore throughout the novel.
During the course of intensive editing, I lost half the book. A lot of the political, you will be pleased to know, was cut. 100,000 words in total. That's nearly another book!

Over the coming weeks I will delve deeper into who Don Booker is and what he was created to stand for in the long term.
'Sure, Don Booker's not a real Irish name,' some say.
The one thing I wanted to avoid was the stereotypical Irish male with the character. Ireland has been badly sold internationally over the last 2 years. Though I do a little 'bad selling' on this blog, it is purely to highlight all that I deem wrong with Ireland at the present. Trust me when I say, on behalf of the majority of people, it has nothing to do with the ordinary person living in this land.
In the 'free world' we are governed by politicians joined at the hip via party systems, practicing a form of Capitalism that has failed. Implemented into policy in the hunt for power is the practice of a wayward understanding of Darwin's 'survival of the fittest' theory. People, victims of agendas time and time again.
Don Booker was created to voice things in a way that may offer others something to think about. Perhaps in time find ways to act on some of the injustices Booker sees around him. Sonny Strange has a similar role, as do a few more characters you will meet in the months ahead via the web series.

It was not so much about the book, but what the book would stand for by the end of it. And then to be more than an armchair activist when it comes to addressing some of the social inequalities many people have to face.
My job as a writer now is to find ways to making people interested in becoming part of a relevant change, even if that takes a lifetime and may have to be done further afield. Hopefully ways can be found for it to be done here. But given the walls put up in front of me of late, at the time of writing, it is difficult to see how this is going to come about.

I will have the 50 books I ordered at the end of next week. Finally 'out there.' It's not going to be everybodys read with their cup of tae, but it may resonate with some. And perhaps those are the people most important to me, so maybe with a bit of luck, opening the pages of Booker's World can spread the ideal behind it a little further afield and get it started.

I am posting some of the pages my editor and I cut from Booker's World here again over the coming months. For the most part they are not in the final draft of Booker's World, though the odd sentence of paragraph may be familiar, but are much different after the many re-drafts. With each piece I post, I'll include more detail on Don Booker and maybe include a little more insight regarding the process I took to write the book. It may benefit any new writers thinking of starting their own first book.

I wrote the original book in the present as I wrote it. I dated each piece, but by the end I did away with the dates in favour of Chapter Headings, but not traditional ones. I felt it worked a lot better from a reading point of view. Writing to the environment of the day that was in it at the time helped me shape Don's reversal from near nihilism to a livable, sometimes humorous form of absurdism. Philosophical, or just the musings of a bitter middle aged man? That's for the reader to decide now.

The chapter below was based on a thought I had on that particular day of how great it would have been to be a fly on the wall the night the bank guarantee came about, the reason this country is now on its knees. Such are the strange workings of the writer mind sometimes. Flies and politics. Where would you get it?
Thanks for reading.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

My bedroom is in my attic. It's like another world up here, quiet, still and peaceful. Near the stars. A number of weeks ago a fly sat at the corner of my computer screen. I tried to blow it away, but it wouldn't budge. I thought about removing it, but the little bugger provided an indication to life that existed outside my little world.
Up here in my room I have books, Leon's musings and a computer. It's all I need right now. I go out once a week, for a ten minute governmental issued duty and that apart, for well over a year now, that's the way it has been. Of course I use the other rooms in the house, but this is where I’m most at home. It is my space, my haven, my place of solitude. Until now that was.
Marty, as I named it, was still there the next day and the next. I thought it may already be dead, but following a close inspection under a looking glass which I picked up cheap on E-Bay, I noticed it was growing everyday. I began taking notes and doing diagrams, and by the end of week two I was intrigued. I gave Marty a flick and it flew off around the room before returning and taking its place upon my lunch. I studied as Marty ate some of it.
The days flew by and Marty reached Bluebottle status. A realisation came over me. An epiphany almost. Marty was just like Leon used to be. Liked to lie around, eat and live at the expense of others.
I'm all for people, and insects, making their own way in the world. If my life had brought me to a state of reclusiveness that was not of my making, and I had to accept it because no one cared, I felt Marty should do the same and not be living off me. I flirted with the thought of studying him in more detail and perhaps writing a report on it for people who were into flies, but instead I caught Marty in the palm of my hand, opened the window and watched as it flew off dodging raindrops. He was now my eyes and ears to the World and it made this particular day a little easier to get through.
I know there are people out there capable of justifying a lifetime of easy living studying things of no importance at tax payers and philanthropists expense, but I never could. If I was that way inclined, I would have went to college and learned to use words like Moreover, and not be dabbling in the area of new words that spring from my sometimes erratic mind.

I do that sometimes. Make up words. If it was good enough for James Joyce, it’s damn well good enough for me, though I’ll never be capable of understanding him on a literary level. I’m just too damn dumb.

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