Over the rest of the summer, my usual weekly routine consisted of me working a few shifts behind a bar as well as cleaning windows on a holiday park in Sheppey before dedicating the weekends to playing pub gigs. I also got involved with a few open mic nights as part of a house band which kept me on toes and forced me to carry on expanding my repertoire.
The open mic nights provided me with some extra pocket money that usually went back into guitar strings and other basic necessities. It was good to get out of the flat as a means to escape the gathering drudgery that seemed contained within the walls of my music room.
On some days, whilst at home on my own, I would beat myself up at how pathetic I was to have such a charmed situation in the form of my own flat, never mind music room and yet still struggle immensely with churning out any decent material. The campervan dwelling person I was a year ago would have been in awe of the current setup, but certainly not in awe of the output - or more specifically, lack of.
It wasn’t that I wasn’t trying. Every time I entered that room, all traces of energy and inspiration would quickly dissipate into thin air. As a last resort, I even began to make the daily pilgrimage of relocating my writing setup to the small downstairs living room in the hope that the extra light or colour would help to sustain my efforts. Still, nothing was diluting the loneliness and come the evening I felt like an excited dog whenever Katie came home from work, because more often than not, she’d be the only person I’d see that day to break up the long hours.
Unless you’re doing it yourself, the creative’s struggle and in my particular case - solo grind, can be a difficult one to relate to. It’s a game of sacrifice, instability and uncertainty. Sacrifice in that so much time is devoted to a cause with little to no reward offering huge doses personal and financial instability, which ultimately contributes to a feeling of no control. In fact, it’s ironic that the only certainty that’s been present throughout has been a such a huge element of uncertainty itself.
Regardless, I knew I was lucky to at least I have the support and understanding of a good partner. She had after all sampled the challenges of self-management, not to mention touring in the back of a campervan for well over a year, but when it came to the creative side of writing, she wasn’t anywhere near as well-versed. And how could I expect her to be? It was selfish and naive on my part, not to mention unfair, to ever expect to rely on her opinions as an offering of guidance but that’s not to say I didn’t value them. She was still the first port of call when I whenever I had a good idea however as a writer there was no escaping the fact that I felt very alone.
Despite having a relatively active summer juggling jobs, vocal sessions and gigs, whenever it came to writing in block periods, I was cutting frustrated, isolated and reclusive figure.
I began to recognise that the source of my anxieties were not solely just predictable symptoms of where I was in terms of career and life as a whole, but also a reflection of the particular place I was living in as well. The happy idyllic little flat we’d moved into at the beginning of the year had reinvented itself into a strangely detached and distant dwelling, absent of regular and decent social interaction. Compared to the constant hustle and bustle of being on the road and of London before that, I naturally felt adrift, uninformed and most crucially, uninspired.
Though I was well aware of the various factors in my life that needed addressing, my general all round balance was off. Relaxation had become impossible, I was spending far too much time on my own, my sleep patterns were erratic and I wasn’t exercising anywhere near what I should have been. Having beaten myself up long enough over not having enough ‘will power’ to change things, I began to come to the conclusion that perhaps I was in a place that simply wasn’t conducive to any of the above and needed to at least admit that for the sake of my music, something would have to change.
Walking the line, taking my time, wandering solo,
Losing my sight, Losing my mind, I’m out of touch,
Try to be strong, keep moving along, try to be someone,
Someone of worth, put on the earth, for something good,
Coming up short, I’m on a course, heading for exile,
Forgetting myself and everyone else, along the way,
Do what I can to act like a man and put on a brave face,
But it’s so hard, so hard,
Sat on a fence, of irrelevance, I watch from a distance,
The world and its ways, tragic and grey, I want to paint it black,
From bold and defiant, to cold and compliant, I’m playing the victim,
Stuck in reverse, I’m not the first, to loose my way,
Down in the red, I hang by a thread, Nothing is changing,
It gets so hard, so hard,
The pendulum swings, the morning it brings, a clean bill of something,
Trying my best, to stick to the test and empathise,
Today is the day, a changing of ways, out with the old guard,
Time to relax and look at the facts for what they are
I’ve been settling scores and waging a war with my existence,
Stuck in a rut, exactly for what? I’m not sure,
Try to be good, try to be pure, try to be someone,
It shouldn’t be so hard.