Thursday, September 08, 2011

Lost My Way

For someone who once made a living being creative the loss of the creative drive can be likened to the loss of vision or some other sense. Where once lyrics or phrases fell into the consciousness like falling leaves in autumn the mind now resembles the blasted, barren landscape of winter. No birds singing except for the crass snarl of the crow, almost mocking me across this waste land; everything seems pared back to the barest essentials. There is no fat of the land and we live in drought and fear.

I have spent so many nights trying to work out how I arrived in this place. All the obvious reasons seem just that; obvious. Made redundant in 2008 after a decade of the warm embrace of office life, of the to and fro of humour and the ebb and flow of friendships the idea that going back to a singular life did not seem so daunting. But those ten years had caused a shift. Writing had been for specific subjects, the safe cocoon of salary that meant never really calculating hard decisions; these had all been good in some ways but had led to an atrophying of the artist’s feral sense of survival.

I have always walked on the sunlit side of most streets, or at least tried to. As life gathered it dust around me, like a real life Peanuts Pigpen, your light steps become heavier somehow, but the things that are supposed to drag our feet, children and marriage, have brought me nothing but a lightening of the spirit. It is the loss of creativity that weighs heaviest. It erodes away gradually as the weariness of non-recognition starts to grind. In many respects I was lucky, luckier than many, but the late realisation that these companies and corporations that hold and control your copyrights were not prepared to do anything to actually exploit them to your advantage came to late for that burst of desire, of need to express myself through words and music. I found myself emoting into a void.

The release of writing about something tangible was initially wonderful. But like most pleasures in life after a while it dulls the senses and one moves from the joy of the new into the comfort of the mundane. Music played all the time but after a time one couldn’t really differentiate between the good and the merely OK and music became almost wallpaper, after being my all in all. Then nothing.

At first I assumed that finding some form of paid employment would not be too difficult, after all I’d made so many contacts at the magazine, all the PR companies wanted my attention, offered me lunch, invited me places. I’d forgotten this was the music business, I don’t mean that pejoratively, but we live in an ephemeral world where friendships are based upon gain and advancement. Too often the na├»ve think they are really making some actually bond with another person only to discover that this all evaporates in the heat of departure from the metaphorical stage. You are as popular as your last gig, song, by-line or review. That’s just the way it is (as Bruce Hornsby said).

But the silence and the humiliation of dealing with a benefits system designed to belittle and ignore scrapes another level of thought from your mind; the level that filters vocabulary into lines or sentences. There are moments when you think that the political class is talking about you when they redirect the public’s fear and loathing from this week’s scapegoat to the disabled and sick. The righteous political anger that fed a young band’s output turns inwards and thickens the spirit. All you can do is wait for it to pass.

Finally things start to lighten but what damage has been done? People look at you differently and somehow I feel different. I’ve been asked so many times in the last couple of years to become involved in things of a creative nature but the spirit has been weak. Now the time to start fighting back has arrived. To become involved politically, to find the words of songs and pluck them from the air and to rediscover music, to write again with the freedom of expression that you only have when you have nothing. People died and some of me went with them.

It’s time to rebuild.

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