By the time you read this, I’ll be back from doing something rather scary at the Wychwood Festival. I’m hoping I’ll be feeling exhilarated, but as I write this on Friday lunchtime, I feel mostly scared!
I’m going to be playing in a band, in public, for the first time in over twelve years. It’s all because the organiser of the literature part of the Festival, Barbara, said to me, ‘We’ve got lots of musical authors coming this year. Wouldn’t it be great to have a band?’ and I said ‘OH YES’ without really thinking about it. And now it’s HERE, and it’s scary, but you know what? I am also MASSIVELY excited.
Creating things has always been important to me. I started to write music at about the same time I started to write stories: my first composition (I think I was five?) was called ‘Fairies Fairies Fluttering Along’. Yes, it was pretty revolting – but it was mine. All mine, something I’d made out of nothing. Well, out of notes, but where there wasn’t a tune before, there was after I wrote it – and that’s kind of magical.
People in positions of power in this country don’t rate the arts very highly. They see things in terms of productivity: can you measure its effectiveness? Does it support itself or make money? Is it a good business model? Of course, arts isn’t any of these, really. On paper, subjects like dance, drama, music, painting – well, they’re just hobbies, aren’t they? They’re not as important as banking, say. So any money or funding put towards the arts is just wasted, isn’t it?
I hate that people want to measure things in a certain way. I couldn’t live without the arts: writing, music, crafts – I notice if I haven’t had a chance to do any of those things for a while. I become ratty, snappy, grumpy. Making things, in whatever form, is absolutely essential to my well-being, and thus my life.
Until last year, I hadn’t written music for a very long time. Considering it used to be such a big part of my life, that’s maybe a bit surprising, but I think I replaced it with writing books instead. And then I realised that writing music is not only fun but it allows me to express myself in a different way again – and to create stuff that wasn’t there before.
At the Wychwood Festival, I and my fellow bandmates (John Dougherty, Paul and Helen Stickland) will be performing a range of songs, including two I’ve written myself. One is about my personal loathing for editing, and the other is about finding the good things in life and making sure you have time to appreciate them. We’re hoping everything will be videoed – and I’ll share the links if so!
What types of creation keep YOU sane?