I remember filling out my CAO form feeling completely disengaged. There were never any options for writing in two-thousand and nine. Everyone said, “You have to do Journalism if you want to be an author”, or else, “Only famous people are writers”, or, “Sure, you can’t make money from writing”. Well, journalism at the time was way outside the efforts I was willing to put in for the Leaving Cert, and I certainly wasn’t going to be famous (I was a while waiting before I realised a televised singing audition was not meant to be). And besides, who else was to know the route of my future more than my teenage peers? Right? So, I went for the only options I could aim for, which was whatever course I could into get for piss points. For me, it was a level seven Hotel and Catering Management Course, in GMIT…. Yip…ee.
At the time I had no idea about Galway’s’ second name christened, The Graveyard of Ambitions, so when I got up there, I forgot all about writing, drank and partied my way out of college, continued working and just wrote in my journals.
Nowadays, there are so many options through the likes of Amazon alone, to publish. I never had that, let alone the information to hand. I didn’t even know how to look for the information on publishing. I just gave up on the idea as a dream too impossible to see lucid. I’d tell myself, “Publishing is too expensive”, “The book would be years sitting on a publisher’s desk, and there’s no way in hell you could take the rejections”, yadda, yadda, yadda…
But, eight years, a quarter-life century crisis and two applications to loan parents later, I decided I was given the middle finger to my peers, and to anyone else in disbelief. I was creating my own opportunities and writing my children’s futures… by writing (… If mammy can do it…).
And so, the fun began.
Two years since my first middle finger (I can’t tell you how many flips have been given since. You’ll stop reading) I was educating myself, “You can’t make money from writing alone”, they said.
I started with a QQI Level five Business course to get work and wrote every single day. I joined multiple writing associations, made connections with writing tutors and was delving into publishing possibilities. Feeling like I was really leaping, my first consultation with a self-publishing agency was made with Tribes Press. Now, I wasn’t rejected, but I needed a lot of work to do before I was ever going to be considered. Sometime later, I did a Diploma in Creative writing. In conversation, I mentioned my consultation with my fabulous tutor, Esther. Esther gave me my current confidence to keep up the momentum to write. For all of what she saw in me, I will never forget her. She told me I had the capabilities of cracking mainstream publication, so I grit and bore the fear of success, and threw myself into freelancing. Most importantly, and after a lot of structure, I am just a third of the way through my first draft of my manuscript.
During all the above, overlapping course after course, I got part-time work on a CE Scheme. Now, I have two diplomas, have gained qualifications in Business, Law, Administration, Web design, Proofreading, Copy-editing, C.V. Writing and Career Mentoring, Freelance Journalism, Blogging, and lastly (did you have to take a breath? Sorry, I still haven’t caught up with mine after all this self-praise), eBusiness. Best of all, I can finally call myself a writer. My blog is my favourite place to write. It has been a great exercise.
No, the journey is far from over. Yes, I have a lot of money to spend and a lot of time to wait. But I won’t give up.
Yes, I believe I can make it. I may not make it to be as big as some, but it will be a star and a half in my grip when I see my name in print.
And No. I am not listening to “…so many people couldn’t make it in that industry. You have children to look after…” – piss off, nan!
PS. Sorry nan, thanks for doing all my washing and taking the kids when I desperately needed to get the house in order. My head is always, ‘stuck to that bloody screen’.
PPS. Dedicate a book to nan.
(c) Mairead Corrigan