The year has rolled around to the months during which I traditionally try to plan some sort of literary project for Christmas. I finally finished Exercises in Song a few months ago (I don’t blame anyone who didn’t notice) and there are those who might now be idly wondering what on earth I’m doing with all the spare time I must have.
Obviously, ongoing worries about family take their toll on my initiative and capacity for accomplishing almost anything; but it’s true that I now have a fair amount of spare time, and an itch to put it to some sort of creative use. It’s just not clear what form that could possibly take.
Perpetually at the back of my store-room is the literary-pointillist work that I originally shelved in favour of Exercises in Song. A similarly multi-faceted work, yet its subject matter is nothing like the nonsense of EiS: death, essentially; hence not the sort of thing I want to be writing about just at the moment.
Another possibility, tickling me intermittently since the Truck Festival, has been a series of short songs, each based on a different room of the house, telling a story at the same time. That could show more promise, and be more fun, except: (a) I’m completely out of practice with all instruments, including my voice, and (b) previous experiments have made clear the inadequacy of all of the sound recording technology that I possess for anything other than reproduction of wax-cylinder quality.
The greatest difficulty is somehow achieving spontaneity, if indeed one could ever do that. Right now, I have none: just a quart of aimless creativity splashing around in a pint pot of meagre suggestions for expression. When straightforward (if not easy) projects involving the house and garden offer a kind of safer, less feverish route to fulfilment, then it’s difficult to resist immersing myself in those instead. And when the internet and all its interesting content is so readily available – recent experiments with my guitar have made me think back to the 1990s, when all I could do with spare moments from my study was strum a few chords, having no Twitter, wifi, smartphone – why spend time and expend effort making any yourself? It feels sometimes like I am trapped in a vicious, unspontaneous circle. How could I ever break out?
Ultimately, I have to decide if I can complete something to my satisfaction in time for the Christmas post; and if so, what? Until the months no longer seem to stretch out in front of me like acres of green fields (it will happen sooner than I expect, as always) the answer to the former question is probably yes; and to the latter? I have no idea.