Facing the Blank Page
There are moments when facing the blank page is exciting – an infinite number of compositional possibilities lie stretched out, waiting for me to use them.
There are moments when facing the blank page is daunting and stressful – for me, this occurs more often when I have a relatively clear idea of what it is I want to do. What if I get it down and it turns out to be shite?
I’m currently in the middle (or at the beginning of the middle, or the middle of the beginning?) of the big re-write of the 5th movement of ACC. It’s the 3rd time I’ve sat down to write this movement. The first time, in Copenhagen, I set the whole first half of the movement. In the moment, I was very pleased with what I’d done, but in the cold light of day, it soon began to feel stale, banal and uninspired. It was the right idea but the wrong execution. The second time I sat down to do it, I had come up with much more interesting pitch material (see day 20) but hadn’t yet come up with a new rhythmic idea.
I now have that new rhythmic idea. So all that’s left is to sit down in front of the blank page and pour the material into the mould.
I usually find that when I actually get down to it and start the writing, it happens fairly easily. But sometimes it can be so difficult to take that first step. So I come up with lots of little things to do – send an invoice, reply to an email, iron every shirt I own, make another cup of coffee – and little things that are throwing me off – not wearing my ‘composing cardigan’ [eyeroll emoji], room too hot, too cold, you name it.
And then, when evening comes, and I’ve spent my day dithering and moving my orchid around and putting post-its in my Adler Orchestration book and so on, I sit down and have to write. And it’s terrifying.
And oh, so satisfying.