A year ago today I was happily walking along Brick Lane chatting to a colleague when suddenly my ankle collapsed underneath me and I pitched face-first into the cobblestones. I wasn't wearing high heels and my laces were done up - the culprit was a little deviance in the paving. I put my foot in just the wrong place and kaboom. I was very lucky, really: sprained ankle, bruised bone, mild concussion, but my teeth weren't smashed in as they so easily could have been. But here I am, a year later, still hobbling about like an old lady. The damn ankle just isn't finishing off the healing process. I had an MRI scan on it a couple of weeks back and it didn't really find anything wrong, but nevertheless, every time I push it a little bit, it swells up and I can't walk without pain again.
This, obviously, is rather depressing.
But today - now that it's been a full year - today I want to think about other stuff. I want to go out and do something for me (don't know what yet, but as it's nearly lunchtime I guess I'd better decide fast) and I've done a bit of thinking. And the thinking I've done has led to this conclusion:
Buggering my ankle has actually been a good thing.
If I ignore the pain and inconvenience and the fact that I've not been able to wear even a reasonably handsome pair of shoes in a year, I've actually had a fantastic year. For the first time in about a decade my priorities are clear and I'm working towards those priorities.
It goes like this: If I hadn't messed up the ankle, I'd never have gone to my lovely physio, who then wouldn't have ordered me to start composing again as part of my treatment. The pressure of having to report having written something pushed me to apply the Pomodoro Technique to my composing, which then took off like a rocket. Since that point I've completed a cycle of Walt Whitman songs for contralto and piano which had been languishing unfinished for a couple of years, written another piano 'egg' and pushed myself to complete the largest piece I've yet written - Deconstruct: Point, line, plane for flexible-instrumentation quintet and piano. Djelibeybi says Deconstruct is the best piece I've written, so that in itself is a good thing because without all the other stuff that came before, I doubt I could have pushed myself to do it in the face of Uncle Charlie's death. And now I'm writing a string quintet and I'm booked in to go to my first-ever composition workshop thingy. And it feels like things are finally, finally, finally starting to take off a little.
And I've been rethinking what my goals are. A few months back, I was quite happy to keep the composition as a sideline. So long as it just kept simmering away and I was able to continue writing, I was happy to just carry on. I loved my dayjob and the balance seemed to be working really well. Since the end of that contract though, I've been able to spend much more time than I ever have since uni just working on music - writing, reading, researching, listening, working on harmony and counterpoint and I'm realising how much I missed it. Yes, I really do want to make a living from my composition. I'm not sure how I'm going to do it or how long it might take, but that's my ultimate goal. Now I just have to work out how to deal with the intervening period because unless a miracle commission drops in my lap in the next couple of months (go on! I dare you!) I'll be needing to find another job. Still thinking about that one. I think it'll probably be a case of going back to limiting the duration of contracts - nothing over 3 months again - so as to maintain a bit of momentum, but I'm still thinking about that one. Maybe a better idea will present itself sometime soon. I'm keeping my inner ear open :-)
But for now I'm just forging ahead. Having a few issues with the quintet at the moment, but it's just a temporary thing. It'll be back on track very soon. Deconstruct is getting its second performance next week, I'm applying for a composer programme the London Sinfonietta is running next year, which sounds very exciting, and I'm hatching some other plans too.
So for now, the verdict is 'hobbly - but happy'.