I'm going to go ahead and publish this. Not because it has any particular literary value but because I've spent too much time on it to stick it next to my other hundred drafts that don't see the light of day. It's screen vomit really. If you actually read it don't come crying to me that you want those 4 minutes of your life back. No returns here, not even for store credit.
I'm a child of the 70's really. I was born in '66 so I don't really know anything about the 60's. My daughter has asked me what "Hippies" were like. I tell her they were like Hipsters but with less money. The news was always on at my house so my earliest memories of TV are of Vietnam, social unrest and Watergate. I remember the 1976 presidential campaign pretty clearly. "Emergency", Brady Bunch – just all of that stuff. It's a blast for me to go to a "Retro" 70's party – everyone is all Mod and I'm in a Stones shirt. Music has been an important influence in my life from early on. I learned to play the piano and the viola. Chicks dug guitar players but I was never any good at it although I did give it the college try. Switched to bass before just giving the whole thing up. I played the viola for about 10 years and enjoyed playing classical music but never tried my hand at writing music.
In the 80's I became (and still am) a metal head. You should see my music library. Strauss to Slayer. During all of this I was never really close to the creative process. I never wrote any music, visual arts were simply out of the question and I didn't do any writing. I saw lots of concerts and read a lot of books but never created my own. As a result, I didn't ever develop an appreciation of the creative process.
Fast forward some years and I've been writing this blog for 7 years! However, I still struggle to articulate, when asked, what that is like? How do you write? I don't know, I just write. I don't regard what I do as particularly creative – most of it is stuff about the City and feels like I'm reporting. The other stuff – the stories and whatnot – I could never put an adequate label on it until I saw a video for the Foo Fighters. The Foo Fighters are led by a guy named Dave Grohl. Dave was the drummer in Nirvana when Kurt killed himself. He wandered around a bit and finally recorded what would become the Foo Fighters debut album – with himself being the only official band member. The Foos have a song called "Everlong" that is about, well, whatever the hell it's about, but it is incredibly popular. I was watching a video of the Foo Fighters playing in Wembley stadium and Dave goes out on this looong, thin part of the stage that goes right out into the middle of the audience. He stops, takes a drink, turns his guitar up and starts playing.
When I saw Dave, in that sea of people, close his eyes and start playing Everlong – all by his lonesome – it really had an impact on me. It crystalized my understanding of the process and the results.
The why we do these kinds of things.
Here's a song this guy wrote in about 45 minutes. On someone else's floor and he has the courage to drag it out in front of 50,000 of his closest friends and play his song. It describes for me the creative process. I'm not comparing whatever talent I may or may not posess to Dave Grohl. However, it occurs to me that, subject to the limits of my skill, the process is the same. The final product is somewhat different in effect, popularity and profitability but either way it is a process. Dave is an artist. I'm a mechanic turning a wrench.
So what's it like to write, to do this thing? Sometimes it's just reporting. We don't have a local paper and I feel like I owe it to folks to take some kind of stab at articulating the Council proceedings. Sometimes, as in posts like this, I get to play a little. I spend my time trying to barf some words onto the screen that articulate an idea or clarify the opaque. Maybe tell a bit of a story. Those posts are the hardest. For these posts to be any good at all I've got to pull the curtain back a little bit. Share just a little bit of what's inside. Write something that is intimate and put it out there for all to see. People tell me that I'm a pretty fair writer. I don't know. Writing for me isn't like running through fire or gnawing off my own leg – the words usually flow pretty easily but look at the crap I write!
Those that enjoy any level of succes at the terminus of their process are those that aren't afraid to show that crazy nocturnal idea the cold light of day – to hold that germ of an idea up for all to see and celebrate. The definition of success is relative: might be a handful of tolerant neighbors or an international music icon but that willingness to share is the goal line and the razor.