Tuesday, 23 February 2010

The Silence is Deafening

I'm not in my zone.  I'm not even in a convergence zone.  My zone is somewhere I won't be tonight.  The creative vibe is kicking me up the butt so hard it hurts, but I can't get in the zone.  Help.

It's massively quiet in the house tonight.  Kids are asleep, and Mrs Dropped is ill and tucked up in bed with hot water bottles.  The telly's off - I don't do much telly except for decent films, none of which are on tonight.  I have Spotify gently knocking out one of my favourite playlists.  The silence in this house is killing me.

I'm not a quiet man.  I talk loudly, I bang and crash around as I go, and I have the loudest whistle of anyone I've ever encountered.  Oh, and I play the drums.  Hard.  There are few things louder than me playing the drums.  Gentle I am not.  You'd think I'd be enjoying the quiet peacefullness of the Dropped Household?  You'd be wrong.  Very, very wrong.

To be able to work I need a certain amount of noise around me.  But only a certain amount.  Too quiet and I can't work, too loud and I can't work.  There's a happy medium to be found though but tonight I won't be finding that medium.

I'm working on a challenge.  @DarenBBC, after hearing the Alicia Keys song "Empire State of Mind" put out a call for a song about London.  I love London.  I like writing songs, verses whatever.  I like a challenge.  Without a thought I replied saying I'd do the words if he could find someone to do the tune. We drummers, take note, don't do tunes.

For a couple of days now, I've been mulling over what I love about London, and what to write.  But, and here's the important bit, not consciously.  This is going to sounds rather mad, but once I set myself and my brain a challenge, it ticks away in the background dreaming up what it needs, what it wants to commit to paper.  I'll occasionally get the odd flash of what's going on, a picture, a thought, or a line, but mostly it just runs of it's own accord.  It's like the hard drive churning away on your PC.  You have no idea what it's doing, but it's churning away all the same.  Same for me and my brain.  I know that it's working, but not what it's actually doing or thinking.

Occasionally, when I need the hard drive to stop churning, I'll take a left brain-check - some physical activity like running, rowing or drumming.  This seems to shut up whatever bit of my head is in motion and gives me a little peace. But not for long.

I don't know what the signal is that says head is ready to scribe out the thoughts, I just know.  It's like all the thoughts are trying to burst out of the front of my head, a headache, if you will.  But one I know I'll enjoy the results of.  Here is where aforementioned zone is important.  Key.

I mentioned the kids are in bed, yes?  The baby monitor is on and waiting to screech out their terrors, need for drinks or pottys.  Spotify is quiet enough that I don't miss any of their calls.  And that's where the problem lies.

My zone?  I get in to my zone easily, and stay there just as easily for hours at a time.  I'm often physically exhausted when exiting said zone after a stint, not that I've breathed harder than when I've been asleep.  But exhausted all the same.  And how do I get in to the zone?  Noise.

Yes, I know what I said about too little or too much noise, but this is different - this is almost white noise.  Or rather noise delivered by white.  iPhone in iPod mode, earphones on, volume set to about 80%.  Go.  I don't hear the outside world.  Truth be told I don't hear the songs I'm listening to either (colleagues have stopped me mid-flow and asked what I was listening to.  Most of the time I can't tell them without looking at the screen).  In.  The.  Zone.

And this is when it all happens.  It flows out like someone has old-school-typewriter typed the words across my mind, and I'm just reading the tape back.  Out it comes.  Sometimes I even laugh at what I've written with a "where the hell did that come from" expression written on my face.

And that's where my head wants to be right now.  In.  The.  Zone.  But with wife asleep and monitor on, I won't hear any of their calls with music at 80%.  It means I'm effectively at about 20%, and there's where I'm going to have to stay.  The song's going to have to wait.

If I could only shut my head up now and all will be well.  It's still banging away up there, telling me it wants to talk.  If I don't shut it up I'm going to have trouble sleeping tonight.  I know.  Drums are the answer.  The sleeping family won't mind, it's only 10.56pm.

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