Thursday, 10 April 2014

No Acknowledgment in "The Arts" and a year of hell

Twelve Steps writing exercise Day 11: Write the acknowledgments page that will be placed in your first (next?) published book, thanking all the people who have helped you along the way.”

Well! THAT was a fucker of a day.

Coincidence is a funny thing really. We attribute all sorts of coincidences to what we like to think of as fate because we as humans look for patterns, repetitions, and special meaning in everything around us.

Patterns, because that's how our brain works, it looks for shorthand and has a ton of blind spots it tries to fill in without you realising it. That's why sometimes you are convinced you know that person walking toward you, even though you know you don't.

Repetition, well that's part of the whole pattern thing but our brain doesn't like to be taxed, so it seeks out repetitions in everything. Hence our inherent and tribal love of music that curls back on itself, or music with a very definite rhythm,

Special meaning. We don't like the idea that we are meaningless on this planet. It's not enough to mean something to those we love, we need to believe that without us, the planet would be fucked. So when something happens to us, we attribute greater meaning to it than it deserves – if we're in a car crash and we survive, we like to think it “wasn't our time” and that “we're meant for something better.” It's all bullshit.

In fact you all know it's bullshit just like I do. But that really doesn't stop us believing otherwise.

So today, after an agonising year that for common decency I will not go into, my partner was made redundant by the company she has given her life to for eight years. It was not amicable. Anything but. PART of the necessity for this redundancy was money. She works in the arts, its inevitable in this uncomfortable climate that there is no money there to support it. The other part – well that's complicated. That's a different kettle of fish.

And that's where the above exercise comes under the coincidence category.

See one of the biggest problems when working in the arts is credit, and acknowledgement. It's a very odd thing but you either get too much, or too little. And make no mistake, the arts thrives on ego like no other profession. It's all about the ego.

And here's the truth – when you are doing an average job, if your acting was okay, if your paint job is serviceable, if the way you hung that curtain did the job, you will be very, very overpraised for it. Oh don't fool yourself, they're talking about you behind your back. That's what people in the arts do.

But if you are a professional, if you are working in the arts on a professional level it has been my experience that you will never receive the credit you deserve. You will never receive the acknowledgement from your peers or from your employers that you deserve. Ever.

So okay now you're saying, oh boo hoo, I worked for twenty fucking years as an accountant and my boss never ONCE told me I was doing a good job. Cry me a river, bitch.

Yes but we artists are fay, wispy, willowy creatures and we need constant positive appraisal otherwise we shrivel up and turn to dust. Accountants don't do that, they just keep on taking account. Very rare you hear of artists who gunned down other artists ( sure, their kids have a habit of doing it, Phil Spector was a hack, and the Crow was an accident – great movie though ).

Accountants genuinely take account, and know who fucked them over. They're coming for you. Oh yes, even you.

So long story short, after eight years of working with this company, it was long established that my partner's contributions were par for the course, and in no way to be acknowledged or credited. She just became a cog in the clockworks. But by the time of leaving it had become the case that ALL of her work, all of her time, and ALL of the influence she personally had within the group was ignored. Not only ignored, but discounted. Disgregarded. Unrespected. Worse still, to have people who you once considered your friends to spend their time wilfully ignoring you ( "good morning colleague..." retorted with a sidelong glance, not a word of reply, and then disappearing into their special room for the day while they wait for their boss stroke lover to get rid of you ) and your abilities, still expecting you to work to your best while quietly working towards ridding themselves of you. Oh sure, that sounds melodramatic but then it's the arts – the arts are always melodramatic.

Sure, you know how that feels. I know how that feels too, I was made redundant nearly four years ago from a Building Society, working for ten years with two colleagues I had begun to consider friends. That was a job I hated but gave my best efforts to all the same. It was for naught by the time I was ushered out the door.

Imagine that now from a job you deeply cared for.

Doesn't it happen everywhere? Of course. That doesn't mean it should, especially in a small company where everyone works in each other's pockets, knows what's going on in each other's lives, and in one inexcusable case, use that knowledge to an advantage that is ultimately detrimental to everyone else.

Speaking of coincidences, is it any coincidence that someone benefits in this instance whilst others walk away with their heads between their hands, hurt and disgusted in equal measure?

Credit. Acknowledgement. See it works both ways and I am quite happy to acknowledge how much misery has occurred where it should not have, and credit those who are at fault.

So to the exercise then. Well, I have to write an acknowledgements page thanking those who have helped me in my journey.

In truth, that's a fucking massive page and the worst part is this : I would now feel a hypocrite if I didn't mention EVERY single cunt who has helped me along the way.

Now, the point of this exercise is to acknowledge that every writer has a slew of influences, and on every piece those influences vary wildly.

When I was writing “Papa Bear Baby Bear” I was influenced by two experiences, years apart, but involving two very similar men. Tough guys, liked to talk unexpectedly about violence they had been or could be involved in. Used to show me their muscles. I was both terrified and in awe of these men; both bewildered and strangely superior. I knew intellectually I was stronger than them, but honestly that wouldn't cut it in one of the fights each man would describe graphically to me. Even if only imagination, it was still terrifying. And I still admired them, and it was this contrast that led me to write a play about two security guards, focussing on a novice who goes through a trial by fire with a long standing tough guy who may be having a mental break down.

So obviously I'd like to thank those lads. One of them knows who he is.

So in the spirit of giving credit where credit is due, ladies and gentlemen, I present my acknowledgments page!!!

Twelve do's and dont's of blog writing : Don't Write long paragraphs.
Long blocks of text are hard for readers to digest, especially when reading on computers and tablets. Break up your content into shorter paragraphs, bullet points and lists whenever possible. Also, if you can, work in some subheads.”

Acknowledgments Page

I am thirty eight years old. So this could be long if I don't keep it tart.

So mum and dad, thanks for bearing me in a time when abortion was frowned upon. Man, if you'd tried spawning in the eighties, it could have been an option. And you might have aborted me.

Thanks to the doctor for not using forceps and squeezing my head so I sounded like Sylvester Stallone. Though that could have given me the drive I lack to make it in life. Fuck you doctor.

Thanks to the nurses for nursing. That's all the nurses. Everywhere. Thanks.

Thanks again to my mum and dad for letting me buy Star Wars figures and love and obsess about Star Wars when I was five. It's your fucking fault I was SO devestated by the prequels. Your fault I felt like a fool for ever having believed in that world. Your fault I feel like I missed out on five years of my life trying to recover those abominations. And now JJ is doing the new ones, I feel like I have to devote a little time to them and they will just disappoint me too. Fuck you mum and dad. Fuck you both. I'm GLAD you're old and don't understand culture any more.

Thanks to my primary school teachers for making me feel small and useless because I got locked in a toilet and called for my mum. You weren't coming to help me so who the fuck else was I gonna call?

Thanks to Scotland for being a chain-saw accented nightmare of a country to grow up in. You made me fear sound.

Thanks to secondary school for shaping me into this completely unconfident narcicist you see before you. I love myself and hate myself. What the fuck is THAT about?

Thanks to Ireland for being so welcoming to me in 1997 while talking about me behind my back. You'd think you'd get used to it over time. You don't. Also you sound like a stroke victim Ireland. What's up with that fucked up accent?

Thanks to theatre and drama for indulging me while completely ignoring me.

Thanks to movies for being awesome even when you're shit. I LOVE to hate bad movies and that's because movies are awesome.

Thanks to the Orb for being a band I like ( see also every band I like ).

Thanks to my inwards-turning feet for being the primary reason I was made fun of in school. And now the primary reason why walking for long distances mean I bleed. Both from my feet, and from my tongue. Don't ask. Just believe.

Thanks to computer technology for developing to the point where there are search engines for pornography in my lifetime. I can look up anything I want. Honestly. I can type in midget fisting porn and I'll get a scrolling page that goes all the way down to my feet. Or all the way up to three midgets standing on each other's shoulders.

Thanks to alcohol for being the saviour and bane of my life. I have been dependent and I am glad ever to have felt it. I am no longer dependent now that I just drink every night for fun.

Thank you to my younger brothers for being circus-mirror images of myself.

Thank you to Bray for introducing me to travellers in such a way as they didn't actually affect my life while I was able to observe them in disgust and hilarity. Ask me about the acid incident next time to see me.

Thank you to Wexford for being the whitest and most middle class bumpkin town I've ever seen.

Thank you the Yellow Belly for living up to your name,

And thank you to my partner, for somehow putting up with all my strange predalictions for odd movies, weird music, strange pornography ( it's not sexual, I really am just fascinated by it all ), and all the weird, weird shit I've made her put up with over the years. I credit you with being an incredible human being. I acknowledge all the sacrifices you have made, and how you have made other people's lives better. I have seen it, I can tell you that no matter who ignores your achievements, there ARE people who recognise them. Including me, despite how fucking loopy I can be.

Though an addendum – it's your own fault. You could have dumped me years ago and I would have totally understood ( see love myself, hate myself above ). So really, you've no one to blame but yourself.

Last but obviously least

Thank YOU dear reader.


    Twelve steps of addiction, step eleven : Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.”

Fuck you. Dependent. I was dependent. And believe me those early awakenings before I went to work in the building society still drunk, were NEVER spiritual. It was always wine.

Tomorrow : Day 12:
Gather everything you’ve written over the previous 11 days. Pick your favorite. Edit it, polish it and either try to get it published or post it on the Web to share with the world. Be proud of yourself and your work.”


  1. Ah Dom am very disappointed to not see my name up in lights but enjoyed if that is the word this piece keep up the good work and you will be rewarded

    1. Sorry Paul, as they say in editorial terms, you simply didn't make the cut. But I'll take the time now to acknowledge your continued support and kind ( sometimes ) words! As to reward, I do not do this worthy blog for reward! It is it's OWN reward. And if you believe that bullshit I'll sell you another at twice the cost.



  2. Wow. Heartfelt, Honest. Well written

    1. Thank you ladykay, all three are all I ever strive for in these things.


  3. Hi Dom,

    I happened to chance upon your blog as I am thinking of starting one too.. I can relate to your frustrations even though I lived in another part of the globe and had worked in accounting operation role for some time without much progress but being discriminated at every now and then.

    These past two years hasn't been easy for me as well. But I hope that whatever you have laboured on will reap sweet rewards in its due time financially and emotionally?

    All the best too..
    Passenger by Gal.

  4. Many thanks for your comment, PBG! I'm just sorry I haven't seen or commented on it sooner!

    My main hope right now is that you're in a better place, and have started that blog.

    I don't think it matters what part of the globe we live in, we all experience these situations, and it's great to be able to connect with others and realise that it's not just you.

    I'd love to read your blog if and when you've started it up. I'm about to post a new one myself on writer's block, you might find it interesting.

    Best of luck, and many thanks for commenting!