creativity / events / inspiration / life stuff / writing

Why Creating Stuff Is Important

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.

Photo by Jane Stillwell, taken for the Chiplitfest exhibition 'Writers, Not Writing'

Photo by Jane Stillwell, taken for the Chiplitfest exhibition ‘Writers, Not Writing’

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?


7 thoughts on “Why Creating Stuff Is Important

  1. I nodded along with everything you said about the arts. I don’t have a musical bone in my body but writing and doodling are my things. Hugely impressed by the whole band fandango and would have loved to see you in action – is there any video evidence? x

    • There is!! I am just swearing at my computer, trying to make it do something VERY SIMPLE like get the file into a format I can put on YouTube. It’s all a bit wobbly, but yes, there is evidence…!

  2. I am completely agree with what you have written. Creativity is life’s engine and although I have tried with music (with little success), writing is an essential part of my life. Like Lord Byron said, if I don’t write to clean up my mind I’ll go mad! I hope that the performance went well and thank u for this great post! 🙂

    • Aww, thank you. I know there are many, many people who feel like this – in fact, is there anyone who doesn’t feel the need to make something, somehow? Surely it’s part of being human? But it’s good to remind ourselves and each other that it’s a vital part of being human 🙂 thanks for commenting!

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