The climate of the creative mind is a strange one. It can be arid, parched and dry for great long stretches of time. But then, when you are least expecting it, a deluge arrives. Ideas sploshing and plopping and bouncing around everywhere, sometimes so fast you can scarcely keep up with them. And it’s quite a job trying to scoop them up without letting any slip away.
I’ve been working on a harp arrangement of Singin’ in the Rain recently and having a lot of fun getting the harp to make plicky-plocky raindrop sounds. And it’s odd how the notes become playful in this, just as they become loaded with yearning, melancholy or joy in other songs. And I think for the millionth time that, although I have made life difficult for myself learning such a tricky instrument, I am so happy that I am able to play lots of notes at the same time. I may sometimes crave the simplicity of a single-note-at-a-time instrument, a flute say, or a violin, but I need more. I am a harmony person. I love the infinite variety of putting different combinations of notes together. What’s more, I can sing with the harp, unlike my flautist friend whose mouth is too full of flute when she plays to ever have such a luxury.
Writers, like harpists, will mix strands, put together different ideas and voices. This can be mind-boggling because there is so much to think about. But the secret is often just to play, play, play around with the different elements until it feels right. And to listen hard for when you reach that moment, same as in arranging harp music.
We all get droughts from time to time, but when that ideas-shower finally arrives, what fun! And how miraculous it feels!
It does seem to come straight from heaven.