Monday, 9 November 2009

Torrential brain (or, snatching jaws from the victory of defeat)

Nothing like a modest title for a blog post, I tend to think. Yes, this one is definitely nothing like a modest title for a blog post.


I've been in a pretty dark place the last few days. Not a bad place, I hasten to add, but a dark one nonetheless. Do excuse me the indulgence of quoting myself from a previous post, but this is the key to what it's been all about:

I've been spending a lot of my evening time working on more music. New stuff, and brushing up some existing ideas. I've already found myself with a little bit of insight into the near future, knowing what my mental processes are like when developing such ideas: they feel exciting and fresh and worth pursuing right now, and I'm pretty sure that in a couple of weeks time I'll think they're all nothing more than various grades of absolute tedious shite, and that's when I'll start worrying, as the time gets ever nearer.

Yep, and that's hit me with full force in the last week or so. This time a couple of weeks ago I was doing just fine, to the extent that after an evening's work hunched in front of laptop, guitar, keyboards and whatever else, I would then listen to a recording of the set I played at the end of August: feeling perhaps a little elated I would grin as the recording played one song and then the next (not least at the fact that there was applause), thinking to myself, I can't fail!

The ideas have been filling my mind, and any spare time at work - or anywhere else for that matter - has seen me immersed in their flow. In some ways work has felt like an anchor, or something to keep my feet on the ground. Last week I spent plenty of time working on these ideas, allowing for happy accidents, twists and turns into unplanned territory, keeping the whole process elastic and fresh, feeling constructive about it all.

Until Friday. I was just tired on Friday. I usually am, and I'm hardly unique in that respect. I was going out in the evening anyway, so when I got home I just sort of flopped for a while before heading out. Which meant that I'd already taken a step back from the music. Which meant that at the back of my mind were rumblings of disquiet searching around for an outlet, a means with which to bother me.

The feeling built over the weekend. For a change, my drink of choice on Friday and Saturday night was red wine (as opposed to beer) and that also seemed to foster a completely different mentality. The very fact of standing chatting to friends with a glass of wine rather than a pint of Abbot's informed all sorts of subtle variations on what would be the norm: in terms of the way the wine affected me, in terms of the different pace at which I drank, in terms of the after effects. Whilst I didn't get any further than being merry and enjoying both evenings out, then by Sunday I felt rather low and washed out, and also felt more removed from the previous sense of sheer immersion in the music making process.

That plangent rumbling of disquiet at the back of my mind found its outlet with full force between the hours of 3 and 5am this morning as I lay unable to sleep, being taunted by the very opposite of the spirit that had caused me to rhetorically ask, how can I fail? so recently. Now I was just as immersed in self doubt and panic, thinking what the hell have I been doing these last couple of weeks? It's shit - complete and utter shit! I've wasted too much time, I won't be ready for the upcoming gigs, I'm unprepared and my ideas are all terrible and I don't know what the fuck I'm gonna do though it's obvious I'm going to completely show myself up and I'm going to fail and then where will I be and so on and so forth.

I got back to sleep.

This evening I was more tired than Friday. Thankfully today has been pretty hectic, which soaked up some of the strange negativity that plagued even my better moments over the weekend - and which definitely stopped me from succumbing to the after effects of a poor night's sleep. Back home I sat around for a while, then quite begrudgingly I dragged myself over to the laptop and various other bits of equipment.

Fuck it, I thought. Just do something. I resumed work on something I'd left alone for a couple of weeks. Don't expect anything, I thought. Just go through some of the mechanics needed to take it a stage further, and see what happens. No, don't even see what happens, it's going to be shit anyway. I mean, really shit. It doesn't matter.

Expectations thus reduced, it took minutes before I was immersed once again and spent the next three hours seeing the realisation of this particular idea begin to take more definite shape: suddenly the pendulum has swung the other way again and I'm seeing things in terms of possibility. Three hours of editing and converting sound files, altering tempos, adding filters, removing filters again, and then just turning the volume up and playing.

Sometimes I wonder why on earth I put myself through all these processes: and then I remember, this is just how I seem to deal with stuff.


Zhoen said...

Saw They Might Be Giants on Friday evening. These guys have been playing together for 25 years, and they're still vital and original and apparently enjoying themselves.

They nailed Hot Cha, gloated for a moment, amusingly. Began another song, and everyone was off key and off time. They stopped, laughed, then debated offering everyone a 1¢ rebate on the concert.

Fire Byrd said...

Why just suffer for your art when you can crucify yourself, I mean nothing else will do, until you get over it AGAIN!!!!

tattytiara said...

Yup. Trust the cycle. When it's gone it just means it's on it's way back.

B said...

(I misread Intimates as Inmates in a shop window today. It was a lingerie display so why on earth I thought it could have said Inmates I really don't have a clue. Anyway, when I realised my mistake I thought of you)

trousers said...

Zhoen, I didn't realise they were still going - I like that they can be as relaxed as that, after all this time.

I'd never go as far as to crucfy myself, FB - getting that last nail in would be a logistical nightmare..

tattytiara, I like that: wise words, I'll remember them.

B, talking of which, I've just posted some more up. My advice is, don't let it become a habit...