~ Hazel Harps On

Comfort Zones (and why they are to be avoided)

How great would it be if all we had to do was relax? If everything we wanted just materialised: food, warmth, love, fulfilment…

That’s not the way it works though, unless you’re a cat (here’s Purrsy demonstrating. He isn’t actually allowed on pillows but when he sees an opportunity…)

Unlike Purrsy, I don’t seem to spend much of my life in any comfort zone. That’s fine. It’s my fault and my choice. Fact: in order to get what you want you often have to do a lot of what you don’t want. Anyone aiming for that dream job realises that time has to be spent filling in forms, forging CVs, going through nerve-racking interviews and other such unpleasant stuff. Even with writing and music there are painful bits.

Let’s take writing. Thomas Mann said a writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people, and I’m finding that so true. Without exception the writers I am in touch with all struggle, weep, wail and gnash their teeth oh-so-often. I’m currently editing my novel for the – well, I think it must be at least the sixteenth time now, though I haven’t been counting. I’m cutting scenes viciously and adding all sorts of new ones but I’ve reached the point where I’ve read the whole thing through so many times I don’t know whether I’ve laboured something to death or not mentioned it at all. And now I’ve cut so much, does it still make sense? It’s crazy-making. However, I know a few writers who have had books published recently and they say it’s worth every bit of pain and agro. I believe them.

I was out of my comfort zone with the harp too this month. Bicknoller Social Club was one thing, but playing solo on stage at Tiverton Literary Festival’s fundraising party was quite another. Especially when I realised I was the warm-up act for Christopher Biggins. Luckily the great man was there during my sound check and not only uttered the immortal words “You play beautifully” but joined in heartily with my rendition of ‘Singin’ in the Rain’. His encouragement spurred me on SO MUCH (even if he did call me "the violinist" later!) but location of heart was still in mouth for the performance.

Comfortable? No. Worthwhile? Absolutely! As ever, I’m glad I put myself through all this. The euphoria when it’s over and everything's gone well…! Much, much better than sitting in a comfort zone!

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