Will, wit, blood and spit.
It’s a bit of a fight. Usually. Being dead creative.
Of course, I know it’s not for you. For you, being dead creative is simply akin to drawing and exhaling breath. I can see that. But you’re absurdly talented. And your dad owns three African economies and most of Luxembourg. And, let’s face it, is also away a lot so has enough money AND Missing Dad Guilt that you can basically have whatever you want as soon as you think of it. You should know we all hate you. Just like your dad does.
No, you aside, for the REST of us, attempting to answer the creative impulse constructively means gearing up for a bit of a slog. Limbering up to dodge punches and learn to take punches and maybe even land a few spindly-limbed ginger swipes yourself.
Someone should manufacture these, incidentally. Ginger swipes. They could be the next king of biscuits.
The despicable anti-art amalgam you’re training to defeat is a strong, dark-browed beast of an opponent precisely because it is made of many fearsome things. A diabolical blend of hapless circumstance and damn-fool failure mainly. Yours.
That’s right, yours. Who’s laziness keeps the guitar in its case? Who’s sense of inferiority stops you writing? Who’s high hopes for artistic excellence freeze you at the blank new sketchbook page? Who’s fear keeps you from the audition? Who’s sense of superiority holds court about the injustice of where you do or don’t find yourself? And who’s clumsy lack of talent makes a right hash of the thing when you pluck up the courage to take a swipe at it? Hmm?
Like I say, big guy. Yours.
So what are you doing moping around about it, you fathead?
Creativity and cathartic self expression are fundamental to being human. Long words aren’t. But some people like them too. Everyone navigates the insanity of finding themselves alive and adrift in space through their own instinctive combination of ingenuity, wit, guile, watercolouring and constantly trying to talk down the sheer eye-gouging howling terror of thinking about it all too much. And poetry. We’re clever that way.
Don’t tell me neanderthal man didn’t sit on a rock alone sometimes and after a little sorrowful hand relief find himself sighing a few badly-rhyming pre-linguistic groans about why none of the pretty mono-browed upright hominids liked him.
Everyone wants to pull birds with clever words. Everyone wants to be in a rock band. Even you, you smart alec – you’ll have a less mono- more high-brow equivalent for sure.
But not everyone gets the distinct impression somewhere just slightly higher than the two other reason-short-circuiting appetites of the body that they ARE… “an artist”.
For those upon whom this slowly dawns, with all the freeing implications for dress sense and hairstyles, there will then come the practical truth that you might want to roll up your floppy sleeves and tie back your foppish locks because the fight is now on.
Any endeavor is a slog, whether it’s artistic or industrial. And a huge amount of that slog will be political and financial. Perhaps your greatest challenge as an entrepreneur will be to get people to say yes to things. Before then getting them to pay for them as well.
Back from a couple of jolly fun shows out with various incarnations of Momo’s electro pops orchestra – down here in Bomo and a brief scurmish in London town as well – I am reminded of the need to keep going even when the great buoyancy of adoration is not at full pressure. Not all rooms rock. Not all audiences swoon with life-affirmed delight. Not many PA systems are ready for the bloody frightening sound you’re going to attempt to push through them.
You have to let the experiences add to your resolve. Take the “YOU SUCK”s from the back of the room and graciously wink as you saunter into the wings to head for the bar. And then get back up again next Monday night at the social club. Undaunted. You do.
That bit’s relatively straightforward. I’ve long been at the stage where I am making music around other more sensible-sounding creative work “because I just have to, man” and I shall continue with my indulgent follies until dead and bankrupt. It is my responsibility to do so.
It is therefore a wrong-footing delight to find even a fledgling audience beginning to follow what I do here and there, and even to turn up at the shows and whoop with at least a bit of delight at that fellow on stage’s sheer energetic gall. It is wonderful. Our two latest shows were great fun – if you don’t count hard cash and firm offers of unexpectedly personal things you can graciously decline, there is nothing more rewarding in life than a room full of big grins.
But when your creative visions are tied not just to your own financial and emotional wellbeing, but to that of many other people, the training in the ring will need to be intense if you’re to stay standing. Or your idea is.
BCCA. The Boscombe Centre for Community Arts. Now there’s a creative fight.
If you don’t know what it is, it’s a kind of sprawling site of old school-like buildings behind some of the houses in Boscombe, here in Bomo. It was, in my day, the Boscombe Drama Centre – a place that schoolchildren the area over would be taken to for slightly thrilling days out of school doing dramery things in dark halls instead of maths. The little durbek drum-shaped plastic stool behind me here in the studio which I bought from Habitat for a tenner reminds me of just such a thrilling memory from the mid seventies. Though the Drama Centre’s were orange and white I recall. It was brilliant.
The irony there is that back in the mid seventies the council still ran the Boscombe Drama Centre and it worked really well. Ironic from one perspective at least because today it is the council that is being sworn at and vilified for its handling of the site today.
There are a lot of people in Boscombe and around who are protesting, occupying and lobbying to get the site opened again as a viable social/creative business endeavour, under the banner of the BCCA. Feeling among them is great, and much thought has gone into their plans. In particular, the strength of feeling is that the planning application the local authority has put in to redevelop the site is soulless and socially inept in a district in serious need of social and creative help. A bit of extra social housing is hardly the potent service to often vulnerable people that unlocking their creativity and confidence would surely be. Surely?
From the fringes of it, my own frustration is the fight itself. That BCCA’s band of soulful soldiers ARE ‘fighting’ – and that the council isn’t.
One ‘side’ frames it as a conflict. A Them And Us punch-up in which pride increasingly demands ‘victory’ as much as the cause. The other ‘side’ meanwhile, doesn’t appear to see anything worth fighting for in the resources of the site.
Making anything out of nothing will always be a slog of determination. But you’ll certainly not stay on your feet in the ring if you have no clear idea of what you’re taking the blows for. You have to have a vision AND plan realistically. Know the facts. And get to know the people – yes, real people – who you will simply need to work with to achieve anything.
The point that neanderthal man learnt early is that no great idea happens solo. If you don’t build relationships with the right partners – horn players, drummers, promoters, town councilors, planning officers, protesters, artists – your idea is an empty notion in your noggin. A potential squandered. Through damn-fool fear – of monsters and of Thems and of the specter of compromise.
Breaking boundaries – bravely discovering new lands – this is the job of the artist. Fear is the only real opponent.
And like inspiration, it’s all in your head. So spit it out.
Momo potters about the BCCA on the sunny, slightly sad morning of its eviction.
Will, wit, blood and spit.