When I left the old grog behind a number of years ago, I knew the pursuit of something else would have to be sought pretty quickly to fill the gap left by the squander of many a year.
I find myself very lucky these days that I always had a love for writing.
I began my first book as an 18 year old in Holland - a generational epic spanning Irish lives on three continents. I took it out again at 22 during another grogless stint, but it collapsed again on page 149 of a handwritten notepad. I still have it to this day, along with the small mound of the writings I've gathered to date for the grandchilder to light the fire with. It seems only fair...
When recession came and bit our collective ass - with the exception of those who plunder it for their own gain on scales which impact horrifically on some people's lives - I began to think of writing as more of an opportunity than a mere pass-time. So i researched into it, and given the tech age we live in, it didn't seem beyond the bounds of possibility that perhaps even a working-class begrudger with no degree could someday earn a crust doing what it is they wanted to do.
I tried for Uni twice. The first time in 2007 I was accepted in the UK. I had to give it up after a delay in getting my grant and having no job meant it was impossible to continue. Just one of the many examples of systemic failure I have encountered in now countless dealings within it.
The second time was here at home. I was refused a place on the English & History course as I wasn't deemed fit enough. The three-minute interviewer thought the gap in education might not help with my ability to think critically. I took that one on the chin although at the time it did knock me out. I managed to salvage something from it in the pages of Booker's World.
Back to the drawing board I next had to decide what to write about. The best advice I could get online was to write what one knows about. From that came Booker's World - The slowest selling Irish novel of 2011. Perhaps even the World. I haven't even covered the publishing cost yet! I will let you decide if those are the words of a bitter middle-aged dude or a blatent self-promoting plug. Being an absurdist I can see the value in most opinion, so don't hold back.
I covered the Lisbon Treaty 2 referendum with gusto on this blog when I set out writing regularly. After Ireland allowed it to sail through, I decided that the coward in me should withdraw blog posts concerning that debate of which I was against. From the prospective of someone who would have to engage with authority in order to advance their lowly position in life I felt - at the time - that it would be best. I mean how could authority support an anti-European? They too sit somewhere in the rusty pile.
The cowardice left me soon afterwards and I vowed never again to dodge and that was made easier by the absolute collapse that has unfolded here since 2008. I learned more in those few years than I would expect to learn in a niche subject studied for many years. Not just about how our little island operates, but of her, past and present. I also found out a little about myself along the way too.
It's true, I could apply for an unpaid internship and try further my mummified career of choice. But who do you write for? Who out there was looking for ramblings devoid of all the bullshit. Who'd take on an upstart with an opinion or an angle of their own?
And then I looked and found a large percentage of it is nothing more than paid for opinion in the agenda-setting/spin type world we live in, written by pens for hire.
I'm an oxymoron in many respects. After all, doesn't this blog have a certain agenda of its own? The Social Republicanism, The Social Raver, The Bitter Begrudger, The Capitalist Craicdown. Writing Without Grog. I'm sure it could find many a description out there in the big bad blogosphere.
'But money is money, Booker?'
Indeed it is. But if it was the hunt for handy money that consumed me, I'd have been a politician or went into porn - behind the camera, of course.
I deleted my personal page on Facebook last week. Tired of the same ol' bullshit appearing on it day after day. Prying eyes of digital farmers had a lot to do with it, but when it comes to privacy well, Facebook is losing control.
The oxymoron appears again then because I still intend to use it for Don Booker, as I do believe social media has a role to play in modern society. I doubt it will be Facebook that delivers the cutting edge package at the end of the day. Like MySpace it has lost its way in the hunt for the dollar.
I still find it useful for connecting with people of similar interests and i do enjoy having 'friends' that are adult enough to hold a conversation even when opinions on issues differ wildly at times. It shows a mutual respect. The type of respect perhaps Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness found for each other at the end of the day? But we'll leave the Presidency alone until D-Day, Wednesday, when the ballot paper is completed.
I do know this much from attending Enterprise courses and being through the local system here this year. Ireland has practically no interest in helping you move yourself forward in any productive way. I don't take it personally anymore. It's a fact of life. A fact of life for many. The smart ones are leaving. Next year I'll be among them I'm sure, though my youngest has told me to put such notions out of me head. He's seven.
When you're back is against a wall and the will to keep fighting wanes with each passing day you come to realize it is for the best. If nothing more as a parent I want to be able in part to prepare them for a world so often set up to disappoint, but above all to encourage them and others to express their opinion and encourage them to develop an ability to think for themselves and not buy so easily into all that is fed to them daily from just about everywhere.
That approach works sometimes and sometimes goes against you as times of trial have testified throughout my life. In ways it's all part of life's make-up. But space in my head doesn't come free anymore, and it is a good thing to know about yourself.
There is a great freedom in writing when you are not influenced to much by others. The voices I listen to these days have an eye just a little further than their own reflection in a mirror. Those who call it as it is - without fear of closing off who they are to themselves. So many do it. There is so much false about life and the world in this era.
When you witness the shocking lack of will to change things all around us you begin to wonder how it is ever going to sort itself out. But history reminds us it usually does... eventually. The pen is indeed mightier than the sword - if used well.
I use my pen - or keyboard nowadays - for those kind of purposes. I certainly wouldn't be me if i didn't allow myself to use the occasional f*** or call spin, Bullshit. Then again, I'm not appealing to the upper crust, the self absorbed PC'ers or those who like to control everything. At least not anymore.
Trying to be someone else always failed me. In more ways than I'll ever get to write about I'm sure. I don't intend to fail this time for I know there is a job and a place out there somewhere which might respect where it is I come from and what I want to do with whatever amount of time Absurdity still has to grant me.
'Je pense donc je suis.' - René Desartes
Why would one want to go against that? Well, any self-respecting writer anyway.