Why At The Water's Edge? It is the title of a story that I started many years ago and which I've only got some sense of finishing recently after many failed attempts. The story initially seemed to have an energy all of its own when I first started it but every time I tried to subsequently rewrite or finish it the writing became heavy and leaden. This is something that interests me: what factors are involved that allow us to achieve what Maslow called "peak moments" and ultimately our potential, and at other times not? And more generally, why do we seem to have good luck at some times and not others?
Paradoxically (and I'm starting to believe that any time something doesn't quite add up it means you're getting close to the truth or at least a greater insight), it's only having embarked and travelled some way on the journey (i.e. left the water's edge) that is mostly documented on this website have I a sense of what I was trying to get at in the story. I feel I'm close to the end point now and I'm in a better position to finish the story. But I know I've also said and believed that before.
So, what of my background? I was a secondary school maths teacher for eight years and then a technical trainer / writer for a mobile telecommunications company (the one which introduced mobile text messaging to the world) for nine. The latter involved writing training material and travelling around the globe training mobile phone infrastructure companies on the use of equipment.
Although relatively successful in both careers, I always felt as if there was something missing. I didn't get the buzz that I sometimes got from writing, that feeling as if "I was in touch with something". The ideal of making a living from doing something that I was fully engaged with and committed to, in conjunction with the feeling that I was selling my life short haunted me. It felt as if I was way off that path, "the track that has been there all the while waiting for you" as Joseph Campbell put it when talking about "following your bliss" in The Power of Myth TV series. Finally at the end of 2007 I decided to leave my well-paid employment with the intention of writing and recording some of the songs that I had written over the preceding years.
It is fair to say that since then I haven't been overwhelmed by success. Possibly the highlight has been winning second prize in a short story competition. And then there was the recording of At The Water's Edge album, so called, because when a friend was praising a version of the story I'd written in 2008 I realised it was analogous to me deciding to resign so that I could record the songs.
Although many have said kind things about the album (indeed Something Wild has had some radio play and been sampled for an advert) I am disappointed with it sonically. I think the songs are good but I was too ambitious trying to record it all at home and in hindsight I should have started performing the songs live first and then recorded them as they have benefited (as have I) from live performances. But then if I hadn't recorded the songs already I may not have the confidence to have performed them, so who knows? (You can judge for yourself, the CD is free when you join the mailing list here.)
It took three attempts for me to work up the nerve and actually hand that resignation letter in. Friends and family still treat me with suspicion and disbelief and I understand why. However it also feels like the point when I actually became "me" more fully than I ever had before. The best analogy I can think of is what I imagine it's like for a gay person to "come out". (I can see how the song Get Up! could be interpreted along those lines if anyone is looking for an anthem?)
For a long time only close friends really knew about my interest in writing and music, largely because of my lack of confidence. I've only recently realised that perhaps that this is what this is all about: not necessarily just about trying to make a living from what I create and perform but actually trying to, what I can only best describe at the moment as, "fire on all cylinders". (Of course if I achieve the latter I hope the former will follow too.)
Of course, although I feel I am living my life more fully now than I was before it's no guarantee of success, indeed this is the obvious criticism of Campbell's irresponsible encouragement to "follow your bliss". However I do believe I now have a greater understanding what's going on and as I wrote in "You've Got The Magic Back" there's this sense of "it's all falling into place". Depending on how the rest of 2015 goes I might talk a little about this at the end of the birthday gig in December. It might be a neat way to end this story.
Thanks for visiting this site and I hope you find something you like.
With Best Wishes,