Of late I have been working on the very, very final issue of the magazine me and me school pals have been running for over 12 years. To facilitate laziness, this week brings you not a real column but AN EXCLUSIVE FIRST LOOK at the opening article by me from the final issue of Totally Fushed. Be careful, the excitement may be too much.
I never wanted to be a writer.
As a kid, when I wasn’t dreaming of being abducted by aliens who would give me superpowers, I thought about becoming a scientist or engineer – designing environmentally friendly cars or finding a way to feed the world.
In the end, I never even learned to drive. And, most of the time – excuses about being a struggling just-out-of-college-er notwithstanding – I can’t even find it in myself to drop a few euro into the hands of the child begging for food on the street.
Writing was always something I did. Sometimes it felt like the only thing I could do. Maybe that’s why I never wanted to be a writer – I wanted to prove that I could do other things.
When the time came to college, having reached the understanding that I would never fit in the ‘practical’ world, I still resisted ‘being a writer’. I studied my other love, acting, instead. After four years in Trinity I discovered there was much more ‘putting yourself out there’ in acting than I could handle.
Leaving TCD, I made one last effort to enter the front lines of helping other people – I started studying Law, training to be a barrister. I wanted to go into human rights or defend civil liberties.
I knew after one day that this wasn’t for me, and left the new course after two weeks. Sitting on a bench in Merrion Square on the day I finally decided to leave Law, I was passed by famed poet and playwright Brendan Kennelly. I’d passed him before strolling around the TCD campus or its surrounds, but he’d never taken notice. ‘Hello,’ he said now. ‘How are you?’ I replied.
Over the next day or two, as I hastily arranged my exit from the Law college, a strange calmness filled me. I had stopped running.
I wanted to write one of my wacky pieces for this, my last ever editorial for Totally Fushed or any Nottwel mag – something wildly politically incorrect in the NW tradition. But I couldn’t, because this magazine means too much to me – and in the last issue, I needed to say that.
Writing doesn’t change the world – it’s about communicating with just one person: whoever happens to be reading at any given time. It’s a beginning.
I take a magical pleasure in my life now. I’ve published two books; I have a job I love – writing for the Independent and other papers – and so it seems right to come back one more time to where my writing life began: and where it’s always been. Even while I never wanted to be a writer, I was always writing Totally Fushed. It was pulling me into something I was sure I didn’t want but when it came it was so sweet.
Nottwel’s origins are well known to you. This wasn’t my idea, but originally Terry O’Driscoll’s. There were littal buhrds and puddees; there was a crush on a girl which was perhaps the real reason for starting the mag. There were evenings spent, at 12 years of age, being driven around by my dad while I dropped off magazines on my friends’ doorsteps; there were weekends, spread out now over 12 years, sleeping on the floor of my dad’s office, while I photocopied issues. And there were long weeks spent in Connemara, trying to perfect that poem for inclusion in the next edition, or get the opening article just right.
I’m a writer now.