hello burnout my old friend

I haven’t blogged in a while and the reason for that is because I am too busy. So, so busy. Soul-crushingly busy. It’s my own fault. I took on way too many commitments in a short space of time and now I am Suffering.

It will, I hope, be worth it in the end. But it’s a hard-learned lesson: I need to slow down. More than that, I need to learn to say no. This is hard for me as a by-default people pleaser, but also as someone who legitimately fears that opportunities will dry up if I turn too many of them down. I guess most creatives have this fear, and there’s a constant battle to keep producing art, to stay relevant. It’s hard to balance with all the other stuff, like ‘the day job’, ‘everyday life’ and so on. So for me, a person with a full-time job (and a long commute), a part-time Master’s to study for, plus a fiction writing career AND a wrestling journalism gig to cram in…it gets a bit exhausting after a while. My husband is starting to wonder if I actually exist or whether he imagined me.

So. Once this mountain of work is taken care of, I need to pencil in time to do absolutely nothing. My dissertation is almost upon me, so the window will be very small. And frankly I’m very bad at doing nothing. I thrive when I’m busy. I always want to be doing something, anything, preferably something with an end result that I can be satisfied with. Perhaps practising relaxation and laziness will be good for me. Perhaps it’ll drive me insane. Place your bets.

Apropos of nothing, this January marked three years since we lost David Bowie. Here is one of my very favourite of his songs, featuring the equally wonderful Maynard James Keenan, and remixed by former Nine Inch Nails keyboardist Danny Lohner – a wonderful melting pot of some of my favourite bands:

Know Your Rights

In this time of political upheavel, the resurgence of nazism and the clamping down of free speech, I find myself listening to The Clash and reminding myself that this stuff is cylical. ‘Know Your Rights’ is older than I am, yet more relevant than ever:

As artists, writers, musicians, we have a unique opportunity to speak the truth and make our voices heard. Art can be a powerful resistance; let’s not underestimate the power we have, and let’s use it to our fullest ability. We do not have to let them win.

thoughts on the power of music

thinking a bit today about why so many of us are so profoundly affected when we lose iconic musicians, perhaps more than any other category of ‘celebrity’. And I think it has a lot to do with the power of music itself – the way in which a song hits us emotionally. Music isn’t the only medium that does this, of course (the number of books which have had a profound emotional effect on me is testament to the contrary) but I think songs have a unique method, almost – there are a hundred ways a song can become meaningful to a person.
Perhaps you fell in love while a particular song was playing in the background. Perhaps the song served as the score to a moment in a film you’ll never be able to forget. Perhaps a song punctuated the best moment of your life, the worst moment, the most unforgettable moment. Maybe it was the first song your child ever sang along to (in that funny made-up language children have – taking the vowels and consonants and approximating nonsense lyrics to fit)
Perhaps you heard the song for the first time and felt it seize your heart, in the best way – that feeling you get when you know something incredibly special has happened. None of us can predict what will resonate with us on an emotional level, and I think that’s the power of a song – you can hear it anywhere, at any time – on the radio, on a mixtape your best friend gave you, in a shop or at a festival – and you’ll be caught completely off guard. Suddenly, that song – which you may never have heard before in your life – will have annexed a part of you, become meaningful in a way you never intended and cannot erase. This can be be good and bad; a song might remind you of a bad time, of someone you miss very much, of a moment in time you can never change, for better or worse.

So when we lose a musician, we’re not just losing an individual – we’re losing something  much bigger than that. We’re losing the person who soundtracked our first loves, our worst breakups, the funerals of loved ones. And the beautiful thing is that no matter how many years pass, that legacy will never die – we will always have the music, and the moments, and everything that made them special.

 

Soundtrack To Writing

Some people write with music, some people need dead silence. I also know people who can work happily with the TV on. For me, some kind of sound is necessary – although if it’s a playlist full of songs I know very well, I’ll inevitably end up singing along.

Whilst writing the novella, I’ve had a very particular playlist to hand – most of it is comprised of soundtrack/instrumental music, and occasionally songs in a foreign language – although I still have a habit of making up words to fit. My compulsion to sing along to music is unstoppable. For the curious, a snippet of the playlist is as follows (links to Youtube where I was able to find the song) – feel free to check them out if you’re the kind of person who writes to music, or even if you’re just interested in hearing some nice tunes:

In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth 3 – Vitamin String Quartet

Adagio in D Minor (Sunshine OST) – John Murphy

Will You Follow Me? – Rob Dougan

A Warm Place – Nine Inch Nails

Capa Meets The Sun (To Heal) (Sunshine OST) – Underworld/John Murphy

Time (Inception OST) – Hans Zimmer

Welcome To Lunar Industries (Moon OST) – Clint Mansell

Fisherman’s Horizon (Piano) (FFVIII OST) – Nobuo Uematsu

Viðrar Vel Til Loftárása – Sigur Rós

Baba Yetu (Civilisation 4 OST) – Crouch End Festival Chorus & Slovak National Orchestra

Mombasa (Inception OST) – Hans Zimmer

Vaka – Sigur Rós (watch the video if you can – inspiring, in a terribly sad kind of way)

FFVII Main Theme – Nobuo Uematsu

The playlist goes on and on, but this is a good idea of the sort of thing I tend to listen to. I’ve been told to check out the OST for Interstellar so that’s likely to find its way to the list sooner or later…