Spring Fever: Creative Fervour

The guilty dilemmas of a writing life
Spring Tree

Spring Fever: Creative Fervour

Spring is the most creative time for me. The coming summer is in the cool March sun down by the Taff, the path striped with tree-shadow, fresh tongues of garlic, birds above – their dove-throated rhythms – and ideas nudge up like shoots. I’ve been scribbling scraps towards the new novel in notebooks quickly filling; I’m songwriting with the band again, a Hail! The Planes album. I’m vibrating slightly. Is it spring fever? Fizz in the blood, excited melancholy, an agitated happiness.

This exhilaration mixed with uneasiness has been there since my first novel My Own Dear Brother was published last month. It’s been so wonderful but I’ve needed to pause and question before plunging on with the next book, before following the urge that’s getting stronger as spring arrives. Why do I write? If I didn’t put energy into creating things, where would it go? Towards something more useful perhaps? Something outward looking, political and brave. Like outreach or charity or activism. So much injustice and suffering. Weltschmerz my Austrian dad calls it – world-pain – I feel it often. Can art really make anything better?

I’ve concluded something similar to the character Mick, from Carson McCuller’s The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, struggling to understand her creative fervour – confused and yet convinced of its worth:

It had to be some good if anything made sense. And it was too and it was too and it was too and it was too. It was some good.

All right!

OK!

Some good!

The new novel feels just as important as My Own Dear Brother did. It’s ‘glowing in the back of my mind like a full moon’, as Ali Shaw puts it. All of myself will be in it again, like last time. I hope that some of the outward looking, brave and political things can be in my stories and songs. If it wasn’t for art there’d be nothing but Weltschmerz for me. No means of connection, and what would that achieve? 

Bloody spring fever.

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