Creativity is Joy

I miss being in a band. Between the ages of about 15 and 18 our little five piece had some amazing times culminating in a self-funded week in a professional studio recording a three track demo, which turned out being amazing, if I do say so myself. We had a residency at a local venue and played band comps and nights that we put on with other bands we were friends with. They were fantastic times.

It’s not what I’ve described above that I miss the most though. I miss the creative time with a group of friends all wanting to produce something others will enjoy.

I was watching ‘Back and Forth’ – the story of the Foo Fighters on Netflix last night and it made me think back to those times I was in a band. The documentary is well worth a watch, by the way. I wouldn’t say I’m a big fan of them, but I loved the documentary nonetheless.

Sitting around in a studio, polishing a song down to it’s final shiny finished product, all contributing to little details that together make the song something that we wanted to share – that was the joy.

Since I left the band back in my late teens, I haven’t really picked up a guitar at all. I’ve always said that I got little enjoyment from private noodling on a guitar and that’s largely true, but something I’ve just come to notice is that I was never really creative on the guitar. Technically I was pretty good, but I was never the real creative genius behind the songs we created. A small contribution here or there, but the foundations of the songs; the melody, the lyrics, the whole feel of the song, that wasn’t me. Being part of the process of taking that foundation and smoothing off the edges, chipping away at it until it was perfectly formed and collaborating until we produced it to the best it could be. That was the fun part.

For the last twenty years I can’t really see any thread in my life that has had anything close to that level of creativity or art. I went to university, started a career and then another, moved countries, found a life and a wife, but at no time did creativity enter my life.

Until now.

Part of my self enforced upgrade path was to start writing. Okay, so I’m not creating fiction, or using my imagination to create something utterly new, I’m writing about what I know and what I feel. However, the act of chipping away at a piece of writing and forming it into something neat, tidy, comprehensible and hopefully engaging is a little bit of that creative joy back in my life.

I’ve really enjoyed hearing people’s reactions to my few published stories and whilst it’s not all about accolades and audience size, knowing that I’ve put a piece out that has made someone think about their own experiences in relation to mine has been quite inspiring.

I know my writing skills are unprofessional, even amateurish at times, but I’m not letting my pride prevent me from publishing. Some pieces I’m smashing out in less than an hour, some I’m taking weeks over.

The Foo Fighter’s drummer was filmed talking about how their album, being recorded at Dave Grohl’s house on tape rather than digitally, meant that there was no easy way to patch up mistakes. If he mis-struck a snare in the middle of a song and that take went on the album he’d be forever hearing it for the rest of his life.

I like that imperfection though. I think that’s the reason they recorded it at home and went back to tape. Sometimes putting out slightly imperfect work is a way to connect with the human-ness of the producer of the art. One of the reasons I’m putting out quick and dirty articles is that I want to trust myself to get it right the first time and come back to it weeks later, even if it’s ‘out there’ to see what I may have done differently. A way to be accountable for what I’m producing and not have it sit in drafts for weeks and make it perfect. It’s like short sprints and distance running both complimenting each other in a training plan to run a marathon. Come at it from both sides.

So I’m going to continue to publish pieces I’ve written quickly, but also pieces I’ve spent weeks perfecting. The creative process is the joy.

What are you doing creatively to bring a little joy to your life?

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