When I look back over the last 15 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 even 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 go too far with the whole “what I’m supposed to do” story. It would imply Divine Calling, or Cosmic Assignment, and although I do occasionally touch on these themes for poetic value, I cannot make them part of a rational argument – or I can, but this piece of writing 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, is what would I have written about?

The fact that I had to make money in order 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 it, or scratch a piece of turf out for myself, or fight for it. 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 and hope someone sees something they think they can profit from – and if not in my native land, then in any other place in the world.

To say this process of making yourself useful for someone with money or alternatively become a homeless bum was not really what I had 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 “establishment”. How I’ve been trying, as I wrote in May 1998, to settle my account with this establishment. What is it that I’ve been trying to work out? To have the freedom to choose where, how and on what terms I’ll have a relationship with this establishment.

What would I have written about if I had come from an established, “old money” family? Would it have been better? More interesting? Would it have had more literary value? Would I have produced literary work that had more commercial value?

Who knows? Perhaps it was not, and still isn’t, part of my Assignment, or my Calling.

And if there is no assignment, or calling?

Then I still know: I have to write.

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