Looking back over the last fifteen years

TUESDAY, 5 JULY 2011

Looking back over the last fifteen years (it suddenly doesn’t seem that long), I almost feel like saying: I should never have bothered with trying to make money. It’s obviously not my thing. It’s not what I’m supposed to do …

Of course, I can’t take the whole “what I’m supposed to do” story too far. It would imply Divine Calling, or Cosmic Assignment, and although I do occasionally touch on these themes for literary value, I cannot make them part of a rational argument – or I can, but this piece is not the place for it.

The question that does come to mind when I think of an alternative personal history over the past fifteen years – since 1996 – is what would I have written about?

The fact that I had to make money to survive, forced me, uncomfortable as it was, to negotiate with the world, as I have seen the world over the last fifteen years. I had to somehow find my place, or define my place, or scratch out a piece of turf for myself. I had to find out who and what I was – and is – IN THIS WORLD.

I had to do it because I needed money, and nobody offered any for nothing in return. Like most others of my generation and those before me, I had to exhibit my own potential value on the open labour market in the hope that someone would see something they could profit from. If this process failed to produce results in the land of my birth, then I had to look in other places.

To say that this process of making yourself useful for someone with money or become a homeless bum was not what I wanted to spend my time on for the last fifteen years is to merely scratch the surface. But, I had to do it. And this became my story: How I’ve been trying, since my mid-twenties, to negotiate with the so-called establishment. How I’ve been trying, as I wrote in May 1998, to settle my account with the establishment – to have the freedom to choose where, how and on what terms I will have a relationship with this world.

What would I have written about if I had come from an established, “old money” family, if I had the option to retreat to a cottage on the family estate? Would my writing have been any better? Would it have been more interesting? Would it have had more literary value? Would I have produced material with more commercial value?

Who knows? Perhaps it wasn’t, and still isn’t, part of my Cosmic Assignment, or my Divine Calling.

And if there is no assignment, or calling?

Then I still know: I have to write.

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