In 2004, I elected to take voluntary redundancy from a job which had sapped my personality, soul and energy for too long. Ultimately, while others just got on with things, I thought too long and hard about them, became too bitter, narky and spiteful. I had an imperceptible patience threshold which too many people took to be the limit of my personality.
I took this period not to be The End, but, in the immortal words of the sadly mortal Stephen Gateley, “time for a new beginning”. I learned how to use a ‘puter properly; I found a job where I could use it better; I began to write for fun; soon after, I started to write for money. Not a lot, but I was paid. What’s more, people actively sought me out. They asked for my opinion. Some of them even paid for it. For a while, I was having the time of my life. I don’t say that lightly either. I used to go to bed thanking my lucky stars each and every night.
In 2006, I secured a weekly stint with the now defunct InDublin magazine – a job which I still say was the best job anyone had ever given me in terms of total job satisfaction. I was working, albeit at a distance, with a completely inspiring editorial team, some of the finest people I’ve ever had the pleasure to work for. In all honesty, I was still pinching myself. Having had no journalistic training, and writing in my own idiosyncratic style, I’d somehow found what I took to be my niche. Of course, I sweated buckets over every submission, no matter how small, expecting everything I thought and wrote to be returned like a failed maths test, with SEE ME scrawled all over it. It didn’t happen. It was the happiest time of my working life. Soon afterwards, in Dublin town, I met a security guard from my old job. He did a double-take when he saw me. “You look younger,” he said. He also looked impressed (and older); I’d been made well aware that he was one my lengthy queue of detractors four years previously, so he was in no way duty-bound to compliment me.
2009 has, by contrast, been a dreadful year. There has been an extraordinary run of setbacks which seemed determined to pin me back in my misery box of five years ago. Sometimes, they’ve even succeeded. There are things you don’t expect to experience more than once but I’ve now found myself at yet another crossroads in my life. Do I press ahead, do I go elsewhere, do I give up trying to live the dream which flew from my faltering grasp this year? Actually, press ahead is what I’m going to do.
There may be editors of publications reading this post, so if so, in the words of a better song, “you’re gonna hear from me”. Here at IHGN, there are going to be more frequent outbursts too – you can’t let things slide indefinitely. I’m not warning the world, just announcing my best of intentions. Happy Christmas.