Trying to be creative in a global pandemic is like farting against a storm. You’re just getting wet and cold and there’s a slim chance you may shit yourself in the attempt, leaving you feeling dirty and wind swept.
Then there’s trying to be creative whilst locked down with your parents. It’s feasible when you have supportive lovely parents like I do.
Sometimes you just don’t feel creative. This has been explained to my parents. “Sometimes, mum, it’s kind of hard to force creativity.” In fact, forced creativity, much like the aforementioned forced fart, creates shit.
“When are you going to make another funny video?” “You should make another funny video” “You just need to boost your profile, a funny video would help” “Have you thought about writing to the National Theatre?” “I don’t know how all this works, feel free to tell me to stuff it, but you never know what might come of it. I think you should write to the National Theatre”.
And say what mum? “I just watched Twelfth Night thanks to your marvellous programme of sharing your live recordings and Tamsin Grieg is everything I want to be please put me in your next play…” At this stage I probably could do that. That’s what’s annoying. She tends to be right. “She” being my mother.
I have managed to sustain a fairly decent level of creativity through all this. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nothing compared to everyone I’m seeing on Twitter. I’ve not been learning a monologue a day or doing any of the 30 days of musical theatre challenges. I haven’t got in touch with casting directors to have one to one sessions. I haven’t finished writing the play I started back in September and thought I’d have finished by now (because I am a silly naïve fool). I haven’t done my make up every day or turned that dress that I never really wear any more in a skirt. I haven’t learnt another language or added a new accent to my repertoire.
What I have done though is I’ve sung most days. I started busking online to make some money. My dear friends and some people I’ve never met have given me some of their dosh after I’ve sung some tunes on the Internet. It’s heart warming.
I am learning to play Dungeons and Dragons. I’ve wanted to get in to it for a while now. I have so many friends who get to geek out on what seems to be the most imagination based and creative game out there. I’ve made a character, she’s a 2 foot 5 Druid Gnome called Lilli. I had my first session with my friends online that lasted 5 hours. I think I knew what was going on about 50% of the time, which I’m calling a win.
I did make a funny video. Much to my parents delight it ripped the piss out of them to the tune from the little mermaid. I had a lot of fun making it and lots of people liked it.
I am still making things with my comedy girl band. We’ve made a video about us being builders because the Fringe is cancelled. It’s weird and hilarious.
I wrote a song about being ghosted during a global pandemic. That sort of explains itself.
It’s strange. I write that list of stuff that I’ve been doing and it feels lovely. But it also doesn’t feel like enough. During this time of lockdown, when we are all glued to our phones, laptops and tablets it is impossible not to compare ourselves and our “achievements” whilst we’ve been stuck in our homes. Why haven’t I become a TikTok star? Why haven’t I worked out everyday or run or done yoga? I’ve always said that if I had all the time in the world I would be able to get fitter. I’d learn to do a handstand or become flexible enough to do the splits. I would be able to do all the things on my creative to do list.
My brother and my mum send me podcasts by politicians to listen to or inspiring discussions by inspiring people on how to better yourself during lockdown. “How to come out of lockdown a better person”. Motivate yourself to exercise. Think about the countries that don’t have the support structure we do. I am both uplifted and utterly depressed by it all.
The thing is, it’s hard. We can be living in a lovely home with lovely people and it’s still hard. We compare our suffering to those suffering worse and then we feel bad for feeling bad about how good we have it and then you’re sitting in a puddle of guilt. Or is that just me? Why do I feel crap when I’ve actually got a good situation? I’m so grateful. I’m so lucky. I’m blessed to have the family and support network that I have. I may as well say these things whilst self flagellating myself with a whip.
Yes. These things are all true. I am lucky. I am grateful. Unbelievably. And sometimes I feel meh. Yesterday I felt meh all day. I just couldn’t bring myself to do anything. So I didn’t.
Today I am writing this. It might be in a defiant move towards my mum. I’m not sure. To be honest I find that many of the things I write are in response to my parents. Be it defiant, appreciative or pissed off.
So there you are mum. I wrote something. I did something “creative” today. Now I’m going to take this to you to read so you can criticise the grammar and my irregular use of commas, and say that I probably should have put a full stop after ‘commas’. But guess what? I DID THAT ON PURPOSE SO THERE.
Then I’m going to start prepping for tomorrow’s busking session and have a sing-song. I need to record in some vocals for a friend’s project. That’s quite exciting. I may even put make up on for it.
I might not be changing the world. I might not be expanding my career. I might not be contacting the National Theatre to ask them how I get into their next production (because a) that’s a very scary prospect and I’m a big old coward b) I actually have no idea how it works but I’m just digging my feet in because you keep pushing me c) I’m in too deep saying “that’s not how it works” d) I DON’T WANT TO OK MUM!?).
I’m quite good at telling people what to do and not doing it myself. I’ve been crap at keeping a routine and doing regular exercise. I haven’t meditated regularly. I haven’t gone to bed at a reasonable time in weeks. I’ve compared myself to other singers online. I’ve cried because I don’t think my voice is very special. I’ve cried because I’m scared of catching COVID. I’ve cried because I’m scared of spreading COVID. I’ve also cried whilst on the phone to my friend because we love each other so much. That was lovely. I really recommend crying out of love. It’s wonderfully cathartic.
What I’m trying to say in this rambling self-indulgent essay is trying to be creative is like farting into a storm. I find that if I let myself be creative it’s a bit better. Like crying out of love with a friend.