May 8, 2013 § 10 Comments
I had a little revelation last week. Well, it was a big revelation, actually, with a whole lot of sub-revelations, one of which was simply this: over the last 15 years or so I have really let go of my creative side. I’ve neglected it; stashed it away in boxes and drawers to languish forgotten, derelict and dusty with disuse.
I’ve done a good job of it too. I’d almost forgotten that I once had the ability to write songs and poems that moved people. That I have a musical ear that picks up tunes and chords pretty easily. That I can sing a harmony to almost anything without having to try very hard. But all of that has been buried over the years for a number of reasons, not least of which is that some of the lines in my life have become blurred.
The fact is, I write every day of my life – it’s my job as a freelance journalist. And while some might see what I do as a creative pursuit (which I suppose, to some extent it is) it feels like a transaction for me. Most of the stuff I produce I can write in my sleep, and it sometimes feels as if I do. And it’s difficult to feel a sense of craft in a world where newspaper and magazine feature articles have become shorter and shorter, and oftentimes – I feel – dumbed down for a generation that likes its information in bite-sized chunks.
I no longer write for the pure joy of writing; of committing words to a page and watching them take on a life of their own. There have been glimpses, sure – a poem on this blog, snatches of melody in my head; a song half-written that now lies beside my bed waiting to be completed. But I haven’t made the effort, really. I haven’t made a permanent space for any of that in my life for far too long.
And what I realised last week was just how much my sense of self is tied into the creative side of me. That in letting go of my creativity, I also let go of a vital part of myself. I literally let my self go.
The miracle in all of this is that just as I was reaching that point – because it has been a process – the right people have started showing up in my life, people who’ve seen the self-doubt I wear like an invisibility cloak and who are slowly helping me to peel it from my shoulders. I’m not one for aphorisms, but I guess this student is finally ready, and the teachers are appearing. And I am overwhelmingly grateful for the chats over coffee, the thoughtful emails, the willingness to listen to the songs of rank amateur, and the words of encouragement and inspiration that come my way when I need them most.
I’m also aware that it’s a process. I’m aware that it’s going to take time and patience, and a shift in priorities and the way I think about myself, my abilities and my life.
But that’s okay – because I’m lucky. I don’t need much to find myself again. All I need is time and the simplest of elements – a pen, some paper, my piano and my (steel)pan. That’s all, and it’s enough.