Wrestling the Crocodile

I’ve often thought that engaging in artistic projects feels like wrestling a crocodile.  Initially, you don’t suspect a thing, then suddenly, it takes hold of you with a vice-like grip, it won’t let you go and it won’t let you let go of it.  The rest of the world seemingly stands still and becomes irrelevant, as you defend yourself against and fight with the crocodile.  There is struggle and a lot of thrashing about.  You spend a lot of energy trying to get to grips with it and to make things go your way.  Eventually, one of you wins.  Either you disengage, injured and never go back to the project ever again, or you emerge victorious, having completed the art work.

The fight usually starts when you’re not feeling your most energetic or at your best.  You are plunged into it, unprepared, but you must do your best, no matter what happens.  All the while, you have no idea whether you are winning or losing, or whether the outcome will be happy, or tragic.  There is a sense of urgent desperation throughout, with you needing to think quickly to react, as each twist and turn happens.  You know your adversary is formidable and you may doubt that you have the strength and courage to overcome the jaws of the crocodile.  Without doubt, you have to draw on every inner reserve you have, to avoid oblivion.

You can come to fear the bite of that crocodile.  You will try everything to procrastinate, to avoid engaging with it.  If the crocodile is sleeping, you won’t want to wake it up.  If it makes an unexpected lunge at you, you might try to evade it, until it takes hold of you completely and you’re in the focused, all-encompassing, metaphorical fight to the death (only nobody actually dies).  Eventually, even the procrastination, itself, becomes fatiguing.  Sometimes, the crocodile bites because you’re too exhausted, by all the procrastination exercises, to prevent it.

Creating is such an abstract process.  This was posted on Facebook, by Ultravox’s Billy Currie, just yesterday:

“I have nine tracks going now for my next new music. Keep it NEW guys!! Some are sketches and now need to be developed. I am still always amazed at how when I leave a track and come back to it later that I really do get a completely different perspective on the vibe. I can do simple adjustments or get further ideas right there.

I have been looking closely at the harmonic structures and melodies from my Unearthed music. I feel that some areas that I went into are now stimulating me into going further down some of those directions.

I wrote that music in a very intense period from September 1996 to September 1997. At Canalot Studios. When I finish music I tend to move on and not look back. As a composer I now think it is healthy to look back at points in my music creation. Whatever I do it will be new. Not some variation on a theme. Always hated those especially in the classical world.
This album has felt very hard to move along and develop. Sticky, with long periods of very little inspiration. Then all of a sudden the body of work is here!

The process is so abstract that I forget how abstract it really is!”

Guitarist and composer, Neil Zazza, posted this on Facebook, also yesterday:

“In the studio today in what will close the demo chapter on the first six songs for the new CD. I’ve wrestled, constructed, deconstructed, rewrote, swore like a f’n sailor at my computer screen and finally am extremely happy with the new material. I really feel it’s my best work to date as my perfectionistic focus was on the songs and sections like it’s never been. I’ve been fanatical and unbending as my focus has narrowed with every release. In any case, I’ve still got a long way to go before a release (not to mention writing more songs) and there is no eminent drop date yet, BUT…the band will be taking the tunes on a live run with our US dates next month. We’ll be in the studio immediately after to capture the energy and I’ll carry this even further by playing and tweaking my leads and melodies in performance when I tour Asia in October. Man, it’s exciting for me and I can’t wait for you all to share in this with me. Have a great Saturday!”

Everybody winds up wrestling the crocodile.


About tropicaltheartist

You can find out more about me here: https://michaeltopic.wordpress.com/. There aren’t many people that exist in that conjunction of art, design, science and engineering, but this is where I live. I am an artist, a musician, a designer, a creator, a scientist, a technologist, an innovator and an engineer and I have a genuine, deep passion for each field. Most importantly, I am able to see the connections and similarities between each field of intellectual endeavour and apply the lessons I learn in one discipline to my other disciplines. To me, they are all part of the same continuum of creativity. I write about what I know, through my blogs, in the hope that something I write will resonate with a reader and help them enjoy their own creative life more fully. I am, in summary, a highly creative individual, but with the ability to get things done efficiently. Not all of these skills are valued by the world at large, but I am who I am and this is me. The opinions stated here are my own and not necessarily the opinion or position of my employer.
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