So, this morning I woke up at about 6.30am thinking about the job I was fired from nearly six months ago. This is not an uncommon occurence. For those of you who have been following this blog, this was the post that I wrote shortly after the firing...
Looking at it, I was surprised how calm and reasonable my thoughts were. I suppose I had been in the middle of reading several self-help books at the time and somehow the positivity and reassurance that such books are renowned for was becoming part of my everyday vernacular (not a bad thing I suppose).
But I still woke up this morning feeling a little bit like a discarded morning poo. Sure it was a relief at the time, but it was also a pretty shitty experience and one that has had a lasting impact on me emotionally (whether or not it has had a lasting impact on my career remains to be seen). How have I felt about it? I've felt angry, livid, relieved, mildly upset, inadequate, worthless and terribly, terribly sad. Sometimes I've felt all these things at exactly the same time which makes for a rather upset stomach and for a rather confused mind.
Sometimes I have wallowed, like a pig in the mud of my own despair. Other times I have risen grandly above it all like a phoenix rising from the ashes of defeat, trumpeting a clarion call of acceptance and transcendence.
It's six months on and I haven't figured it out. It'll be six years before I do.
THINGS I NOW KNOW...
1. It still hurts. It probably always will. But it hurts less now than it did then.
2.Life goes on.
3. I'm still working, doing what I love.
4. It wasn't all my fault but I had a part to play in it.
GOOD THINGS HAVE COME OUT OF IT...
1. One of the demos I wrote for that show have attracted the attention of big producers who I have met as a result which may lead to future work.
2. Some of the musical themes were instrumental in discovering the heart of another song that I was having trouble writing for another project (that's The Wicker Husband for those of you who know about it).
3. I've learnt to ask more questions, to dig deeper into what people really want (or think they want!).
4. I've learnt to find out who is pulling the strings before getting involved in a project.
5. I got an agent. The ultimate blessing, who can take alot of these questions on themselves and who are there to promote my interests.
6. I met some lovely people who I consider to be good friends as a result.
BAD THINGS HAVE COME OUT OF IT....
I question my own ability to do my job far more often than I used to. There was always a voice in the back of my head at the start of every new show that used to say:
"Maybe you can't do this. Maybe this time you won't be able to come up with any good songs or music. But hey, you always have before, so try not to worry so much!"
Now this voice has been replaced by a louder voice which says:
"Maybe you can't do this. Maybe this time you won't be able to come up with any good songs or music. But hey, you always have before... oh wait. No you haven't. There was that one time, remember? REMEMBER??!"
I have to remind myself that actually the work was good, it just wasn't what they wanted.
BUT OUT OF THOSE BAD THINGS OTHER GOOD THINGS HAVE ALSO COME OUT...
For a while it affected my other collaborations.
I became obsessed with the idea that I needed to have feedback in person in order to avoid misunderstandings etc... problems arising from this obsession resulted in a meeting with two of my dearest collaborators (Rhys Jennings and Charlie Westenra) in which I discovered how deep my insecurities had wormed themselves into my psyche.
Essentially, our meeting turned into a tiny therapy session for me about how this particular experience had begun to colour all of my collaborations and that I shouldn't let it. Just because communication didn't work in that situation for whatever reason, it didn't mean that I was doing something wrong in my others (as a matter of fact ALL of my other collobrations have been incredibly successful so I must have been doing something right.)
It then turned into a conversation about how we each prefer to communicate in our daily lives.
It seems simple, but I would say that this is probably essential for all collaborations. How can you collaborate successfully with someone if you don't know how they like to communicate? Text? Email? In person? At what time? How quickly can you expect a response?
Everyone has different answers to these questions and you need to know the answers. For example, Charlie loves to chat through things on the phone. I can't stand the phone. What was happening was Charlie was calling and I wasn't answering and that leads to frustration.
Now I know that this is important to Charlie, I make more of an effort on the phone (sometimes I even phone her!). And she makes more of an effort to communicate by text and email. Interestingly I don't mind the phone as much as I used to... simply because the person on the other end of it knows that it isn't really my bag... simple understanding has led to a much happier collaboration.
It was a conversation that also made me think about my weaknesses as a collaborator...
MY NEMESIS: JASPER MOUNTBATTEN III
It turns out, that like most of us, I have a very fragile ego. My girlfriend calls him "Jasper Mountbatten III." He is very demanding and ill prepared to accept criticism. He is a wilful child, prone to tantrums and childish rages. His worth is tied directly to external validation and praise. He gets extreme gratification when he is praised, and he becomes extremely hostile when his work is dismissed.
The good thing that I have discovered about Jasper Mountbatten III is that he isn't very bright. Jasper can be tricked, led into the woods, led into a stick and box trap very easily and quickly. He's like a chimp, all instinct and no intelligence.
This means that I can control him and over the last few months, as a result of the beating that Jasper has received, I have had the opportunity to practice keeping him under control alot more. I'm much better at it now. I recognise when Jasper is in control or is reaching for the controls and I can stop him before he does any damage.
SO HOW DO I FEEL NOW?
I'd like to say, I feel great. But I don't. I still feel upset, relieved, angry and terribly, terribly sad at the thought of what happened... but I've begun to wonder, actually... is it me who is feeling these things?
...or is it Jasper Mountbatten III?
And anyway, Jasper needs to get in his box.
I've got a score to write.