When I was younger, I was always writing something. If my parents' old PC still existed, the hard drive would be full of my short film scripts and plays that never saw the light of day. Some, however, did make it to the stage: The family sitting room and garden hosted the premieres of some of my early work as, along with my brother, cousins and family friends, plays about aliens, murder mysteries and spies were staged for the family with all programme money going to the RNLI. I have vivid memories of coming downstairs with printouts of my latest script for my parents to read. But most of all, I remember that writing came to me very easily.
I also wrote songs. I liked to rewrite words to familiar tunes, or pen a number around the four chords I could strum on the guitar. An anthology titled Anna's Songs was unearthed by my Dad a few years ago and contains such lyrical gems as "Our love was just a fairytale, but you don't believe that junk in books" and "You and I both know I love him so, and now he's gone." I clearly knew everything about life aged 11.... But quality aside, like the scripts, it all came to me very easily.
It seems like a natural progression, then, to marry these two childhood pastimes and now make a part of my living from writing musicals. But the older I get, the less easy it is. While it probably helped that my childhood wasn't filled with distractions like social media and Netflix - or running a business, for that matter - there seems to be an added filter to creativity that restricts us as adults. It's no different to what we see in our choirs every week; as adults we find it harder to just let go, to express ourselves, play, and give our complete self to something. We're our worst critic; we know too much and not enough; we judge ourselves. We blog about these problems in the third person rather than just saying, "I find writing hard"...
So why do it? Because it's liberating, it's wonderful and, other than singing with others or going for a run, for me it's the most freeing thing I can do.
Writing a melody and thinking up lyrics is like some kind of magic, and hearing an audience respond to something I've created is one of the most scary and brilliant experiences out there. Weaving together a series of songs, each a short story in its own right, to make a longer, succinct narrative is a challenge like no other, but one I keep coming back to and love.
So, as Emily and I write Finding Time, the third musical we've written together, we'll blog here on the writing process, its highs and lows and development. Get an insight into what writing and mounting a new musical is like, and a behind the scenes look at our latest creation. Sometimes you'll find us frustrated, sometimes elated. Mostly, though, you'll find us happy to just be writing.
Enjoy the ride!