It’s December and we all know what that means. Only a few weeks until the inevitable. For a harpist like me it also means extra work, extra opportunities and – I’ll admit it - extra stress. I’ve spent the last two months neglecting my normal repertoire and trying to get those Christmas pieces back into my muscle memory. They’ll get their first airing of the year for the popular ‘Dunster by Candlelight’ this weekend. After that I have a run of Christmas gigs with the harp, many of them at Dunster Castle.
Although I know I can play the pieces well, I’m not going to lie. I’m beset by fears. Plenty of things might go wrong. Here are just a few:
I will forget to bring my tuning key and the harp will be out of tune (horrible!)
I will lose my voice (a very real risk at this time of year, especially as some of the days I’ll be singing for four hours solidly)
Something will go pear-shaped with the amplification (I’m hopeless at all things technical)
I will break a string just as I’m about to start (harp strings are sensitive to changes in temperature and my harp will have a journey in a cold car just before being played)
I will stumble down some steps whilst carrying my harp and break it because I’ll be wearing posh shoes (this did actually happen once just before a concert. It was a nightmare. I cried. Lots.)
I won't be able to see the strings because of bad lighting or a zigzaggy carpet (oh yes, often a hazard)
My mind will go blank and I’ll actually forget how to play the harp altogether (terror can do that sort of thing)
And so it goes on.
I'm going to ignore the negative voices, though, assume all will be well and forge on. As creative people, we often need to be the fools that rush in rather than the angels that fear to tread. Fear will get us nowhere. Blind faith is what’s needed.
This goes for the writing even more than the music. It takes most writers several years to complete their first novel. Lonely years. Years of missing out on other, more sociable activities. You sit behind a computer, you drag thoughts and emotions out of yourself, you try to convert them into some kind of a story. You try, try, try to make it readable. Often you are stuck for inspiration, yet you hope, always hope that, in Mr Micawber’s words, “Something will turn up”. To function at all you need to share Mr Micawber’s total optimism. You need faith that some day somebody will love your book. But there's no guarantee that anybody will ever read it at all.
I now know that my book will be out there and will be read, but it was looking iffy for a long while. Last December I was in a very bad place. How glad I am now that I kept the faith! Attitude makes a massive difference. So, budding writers, musicians or creatives of any description who may be reading this, please consider giving yourself a really good Christmas present this year, one that will help you through the dark times: a great big stash of optimism.