Friday, 7 March 2014

A New Process - Writers and writing, Art and Artists, Music and Musicians

I have found a new process.  After being stuck with my Light Gate opera for a long time, I recently began a novelization to try and work out the story better.  I had written a couple of prologues before, which I envisaged being liner notes to accompany the album but over time I began to realise that I really needed to explain why the beacons in the story are so important; and in doing so, this brought up so much about growing up as child in the 1980s during the Cold War.  It enabled me to identify something specific to my own generation and at the same time multi-generational.  It was all going on and we were there.  In my case, I knew it was there from an early age.  That's just the way my mind works.  Maybe its over-sensitive.  I know that I am.  I don't apologise for that.

The last post I made, the first in a long time of any kind, was the first chapter of what is turning into a novel.  What did totally surprise me was that I've suddenly found it easy to write music that draws directly from the novel.  At the moment I pretty much have the first two chapters complete with the rest of the book worked out.

Its actually the first time that I've enjoyed writing in years.  I think that it was simply a lack of confidence.

In January last year I started a process largely drawn from Julia Cameron's excellent book The Artist's Way, having dabbled with it from the autumn of 2012.  I stopped writing for a long time.  In fact, I stopped music pretty much totally for a year.  I felt as though I had completely lost my way with it all and it was a pretty terrible void.  Cameron's process involves writing stream of consciousness prose every day.  I found myself writing - with occasional period of interruption - pretty much everyday.  At around the same time, I rediscovered my lost fountain pens and took a lot of joy in writing with proper ink.

One thing that I came back to was my opera and that I needed to finish it.  I'm trying that at the moment and this new process seems to work.  Instead of random lyrics that I like to pretend tell a story thematically, I'm actually writing songs that tells a story.  I think that there will be a balance of about 50/50 in the end because in rock n roll, you don't need to spell it out.  It isn't a musical.  It isn't primarily theatre and I really think that you need to create a structure in which you provide a prop to the imagination of your audience.

I think that you have to allow creativity to take time.  It isn't a tap that you turn on and off.  My life is very demanding, I have a very committed professional life - as unbohemian as that may be - and it is very difficult to strike a balance.  I don't like doing something and being half arsed about it; I always want to give my all.

All of which leads me on to something quite interesting musically.  I've decided to form a new band.  I'll need to lose the paunch for it because this will be more like what the Light and the Change did back in the day, my old bands.  That means a proper rock band with all the hearing loss (which thus far has proved to be temporary), cut fingers and housemaid's knees that that entails.  I don't really see it as the natural setting for the opera but I figure that its age limited in some respects.  I probably will look ridiculous trying to do windmills, scissor kicks and jumping bean ballet poses like I did ten years ago but its business.  You know.  Its the proper business.  But I think that I'm more open to shades of tone in music now than I was.  I'm probably less of an outspoken high self-minded arse hole now, I hope.  Others may disagree but these days, nobody would bother telling me.

The thing is, I really am enjoying writing this novel.  Its so rewarding.  Its also picking up on lots of experiences that I think that others probably shared about my life up until now.  There's always a twang of middle class awkwardness in my stomach when I 'fess up (as the kids say, apparently) by putting autobiographical references in stories.  But I've decided just to do it.  You see, in truth the Light Gate has these references, a certain setting in the real world but heads off into fantasy and I think that fantasy is based upon my experiences with post-traumatic stress disorder (que awkward twang).

And who knows, if and when it is all done, maybe I'll be better positioned as a 33 year old (I hit this age next week) with a hairline that ain't exactly superstar to make the most of it all.  Anyone that knows me knows that I am a massive Who fan (que another self-aware twang about writing a rock opera...a second one at that) and when I saw Messrs Daltrey and Townshend play Quadrophenia last year - both of them knocking on the doors of their eighth decade - it made me realise that there aren't any rules about this.  Not that I could ever liken myself to masters of the art like them but I figure that many years in the future, I might just have created something epic that I can be truly proud of.

You know, when I was younger I gave up so much for my music.  I hurt a lot of people.  People who asked me if they would one day get a chapter in my memoir.  I figure that I have debt to myself and a debt to them.
And deep down, I still do truly believe.  One man and his guitar can change the world.

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