The River was Rising and The Rain Fell Down…

This post turned out to be mostly about: following a red thread curving into darkness.

There are rivers, there is fire; there is a tiger licking a baby, and a tightrope walker.

All these things are true.

But right now, the most important thing you need to know is…


My project went sideways.

Out of nowhere, each of the pieces I had been diligently working on went dark.  I could no longer find my way into them.  This happens sometimes.  There is a fine line between knowing when to push through and when to lay back.  To do this work you have to be able to dance on that line with the consummate grace of the tightrope walker.  More than half of the process is listening and sometimes things just aren’t ready to be born.  So I put the pieces down, not knowing if I would ever pick them up again, and wondered what to do next.

As fortune would have it, this happened just before the holidays.

Weird as it may sound, I don’t plan any time off during the year.  I genuinely love what I do so time away from it can seem more a punishment than a reward.  Whilst I do understand the creative benefits of space and incubation, I generally wait for life to foist them upon me.

And even then I make sure I have my gear.

So.  There was travel and movement, there was Christmas, and there was New Year.  I took my Uke, a notepad, my meditation cushion, and a pair of running shoes.  Wherever I was, I would get up early and do my work before anyone else was awake.  I wasn’t working on the project anymore, but I am always writing, always sharpening my chops, always following that little red thread of inspiration which curves away into the dark.

At the change of the year I found myself in a cottage with a group of friends someway south of Edinburgh.  The snow had passed us by, but there was cold, and there was rain.  The open fire was pressed into near-constant service whilst outside, the river that divided the two villages viciously broke it’s banks and began devouring land, trees, and fences; hungrily lapping at cottage doors fortified with sandbags like a tiger licking a baby.

Still each day I did the work.  As far as I was concerned the project I had been pursuing could well be dead.  Sometimes things just die.  So I played, and I sang, and I wrote before dawn; then I watched the fire, listened to the rain hammering on the windows, drank some wine, and laughed with my friends.

When time away ended and I returned to the studio I had fully let go of the project and had decided to spend January writing and making sketches instead.

Purely for the fuck of it.

It was 3 days before I was working on the project again.

Out of nowhere ideas starting pouring in, tumbling over themselves almost faster than I could capture them; as easy as rain rolling down a window; sweet like laughter in fire-lit darkness.

As well as this, whilst I was away I’d also started to feel the itch to play live again, which has been growing like a quietly insistent fever in my belly ever since I returned.

All this means that 2016 is looking like a busy year.  Whenever I have solid info I’ll let you know;  look for my missives here.  And if you want me, well…

I’ll be in the studio, a-pulling on that thread.

I hope if you were celebrating that your holidays were good.  Big love to you all.


New Things, New Connections:

I made a Facebook fan page.  So, if Facebook is your jam this is where to find me.

I post different things, depending on the platform, so there will be a bunch of exclusive content; stuff not available anywhere else.   Hit the link, click the ‘like’ button, and then choose ‘allow notifications’ to be able to see what I post there.

But don’t worry, if you loathe Facebook to your very marrow (or even if you don’t) there is the Mailing List (where you also get 3 free tracks of music), and finally there is the Twitter (still the best way to see what I’m up to day to day).

Lastly, if you want to get something beautiful for yourself whilst truly support what I do, here is where you can Buy My Music.

Your support is the reason that I get to do what I do for a living.  I never forget that.

Thankyou from the bottom of my heart.

What did you think of this post?

If you have any thoughts, responses, or questions about this post, they are most welcome.  The comments box is just below. 

Add your voice to the conversation and let’s get into it.

97 Replies to “The River was Rising and The Rain Fell Down…”

      1. Thank you for all the positive posts on your account. I just started my page and am glad not to see drama with other people on what they post so far.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. I’ve found that caring too much is my enemy. The more preciosity I knit into a work, the more likely I’ll stress over it being perfect. I end up smothering my creativity 😢. I wish I could find a balance between caring craft and reckless abandon. I don’t want to be 💩, but it’s hard to be 💰 when your brain its in a centered state😧.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hey handsome! Lovely to see your like on my post, “Jesus, a 10 month old baby, and a truth lasso,” I really enjoyed this piece of yours, it resonates with the process of writing, rewriting, letting it go, when to crawl back. Keep up the work and those moments of play purely for the fuck of it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Morning Radcliffe!

    Hmmm. I LOVED this post, which was much like reading a day in the life of a creative person. It articulated the trials and worries that might crop up and opens to the wonderful way you allow life to flow, bringing you back to yourself.


    Liked by 1 person

  4. You paint words so beautifully; thoughts from the interior are portrayed so poignantly; your write up is worth a read many times. Sometimes your narrative leaves me puzzled with abstruse mystery of your thoughts. There’s a sensibility conveyed in haunting mysticism. Anand Bose from Kerala.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I can appreciate the laying down of threads when they seem to die off. Learning to allow the process to unfold naturally, like the blooming of a flower can be a great challenge at times. It seems there is often another piece I need to more fully experience before the thread suddenly, unexpectedly pulls back at me. When it does, often it pulls relentlessly…temporarily interrupting the new threads I was following.
    I love your similes and elemental references. A very powerful piece with a great sense of peace, with a sweet surrendering to the process of creativity. Thank you for sharing your process!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are most welcome – Thankyou so much both for reading, and for taking the time to write, it really means a lot to me.
      You are right of course, the process is organic and living, how could it not be and still have life?
      Have a good night,
      – J

      Liked by 1 person

  6. “There is a fine line between knowing when to push through and when to lay back. To do this work you have to be able to dance on that line with the consummate grace of the tightrope walker.” I feel this way SO much of the time, about so many things: when to take action, and when to wait; I currently feel like it’s one of those things I will never learn definitively, that with every situation there is so much subtly in the balance that I learn anew in every situation. Thanks for the words; hearing the reflection is… nice. <3


    1. You are welcome for the words – really glad you liked them.
      I agree, I don’t think that you ever perfect it, but knowing the principles allows us to move in a more informed way.
      Hope you are well, have a good night,
      – J


  7. Well I typed a comment and I have no idea if you go it.
    It sounds like you did what you needed to do. Sometimes we have to be able to lay down something in order to keep it moving forward, Even though you were drinking wine with your friends, you were still working on your art, because putting it aside is part of the process. Changing your environment enables your brain to make new connections; therefore, you will have inspiration to bring it back to the studio and your writing.Well done.


  8. It sounds like you did just what you needed to do. Sometimes leaving it behind and putting yourself in a different environment is good for the creative process. In actuality you were still working on your art even though you were in a cottage drinking wine with your friends. Even if you didn’t write at dawn, you would still be creating and moving forward, because being able to lay it down is part of the process. Well done.


  9. I think it is quite a fascinating thing that you wrote this post just now, because I too have been going through a strikingly similar creative process. Not with music, but with a book – one that had been consuming my waking hours for weeks and weeks until suddenly it all stopped, and I was really sure that I was at the end of the line.

    Until yesterday. The ideas are back. The story is here. There is so much further to go. I cannot wait.

    Happy New Year to you, James. Here’s to a productive + creative year. <3

    Liked by 1 person

  10. So well said. I have given up creativity between Thanksgiving and New Years. I don’t know what happens during that time but it is creative torture for someone who is creating all year until Thanksgiving and suddenly it is like someone stole the blood out of your body. You’re smart in sitting it out and waiting for it to ask to dance again.


    1. First, Thanks for reading this, and for taking the time to comment.
      Wow. You can give it up? I have no idea How that would happen ;-)
      I was still creating actually – mostly working on my next album, and my live set. If I stop, I generally get a little morose, so, even if a project isn’t working out, I am always in the thick of something.
      Have a great night, hope you are well,
      – J

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh trust me, I get morose. I am starting a new book and thinking about illustrations now. The holidays are a hard time for me, happens every year. I want to keep creating, but it is good to take a break, I will have to work on that ‘down time’ mentality though, it’s so hard. All is well now, best to you and your inspirations for 2016!

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Oh my
    The tides spinning and whirling with force. I totally can feel the inner depths of your writing. I spent the new year holiday in reflections of all that past and yet to come. The nervousness and sadness the truths revealed. What is always unblinded is what sets us free. I saw past the darkness and hurt into such a serenity of bliss. I meditate for a while as the light began to warm me. I am not as talented as you to be able to reach so many with your hypnotic words of truth and life. What I do know is that thru the journey there are people who come into your life and there no reason why. I’m so blessed to have such a beautiful friend in you. When if at the roughest time there you are. Poetic justice in all you speak. Moving and humbling you are such a gift to many. I thank you my friend for inspiring me to smile and fight. To love and be vulnerable. Such a blessing you are.
    Much Love and Respect
    Brandi Jones
    Twitter bigbossbitch66
    Your amazing


    1. You are so, so welcome. Thankyou so much for taking the time to read and to respond in this way.
      Thanks also for your kind words, I really appreciate them. You are very kind.
      I hope you are having a good night,
      – J


  12. Hello hello remarkable J,

    Your post is slick and beautiful, bless you endless. And something came to my mind after I read it sooo . . . I’m back. :)

    I’m lately taken with artists who play with various forms of creation, for instance, someone like yourself who writes and also makes music or an illustrator who also does woodworking, you feel me. :)

    So I’d like to ask you, if it’s okay, do you find having a few mediums to explore helps keep you fresh and engaged in new ways? That it’s clever to lay one thing down and pick up another and then go back? I hope I’m asking this well. Let me know if this makes sense. But I find that when I get into taking photos, for instance, it somehow helps me inexplicably in my writing.

    Maybe a morphing muse is a little bit of a heavenly help to keep us coming back at our art from a million different angles.

    Love your work, love you much,


    P.S. Who hates Facebook? :P

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love this, completely get you, and fully agree.
      Joni Mitchell called it: ‘Good crop rotation’.
      It probably helps me out, sometimes it feels like there’s just not enough hours in the day for all the stuff that I want to make.
      In the final count tho, I find myself singing, making music, and writing everyday, so that’s what I end up doing.
      I like your photographs ;-)
      Big love, big hug, xx

      Liked by 2 people

      1. What a lovely response. Thank you so much. There are not enough hours. Never enough. The gods laugh.

        Do you mind one more question, may I? Given the constraints of time and all the many things you desire to create, how do you choose which thing (project or piece, what have you) to bring forward and make priority 1? Does a certain thing seem to rise to the surface on its own or do you sort of pick up one project from among all the others and tell it its time is Now?

        I guess I mean – do you choose them or do they choose you?

        P.S. xx

        Liked by 1 person

  13. My family of origin is not appreciative of art, writing, and other endeavors that I now find life-giving. I tried to be like them for thirty-something years…pretended…even got multiple degrees pursuing things that they would approve of (don’t use those degrees at all by the way) and now I can’t pretend anymore. The problem is that I am so inexperienced that I haven’t a clue if my experiences are “normal.” Thank you for sharing your process in this post. It feels exactly as if these words could be my own. Many thanks to you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey there,
      Anytime. Thanks for taking the time to read and to comment. Pretending is never good, tho we all break out of it by degree.
      Well done for the coming into yourself, it sounds as if you are well on your way.
      Good luck and much love for the future,
      – J


  14. When I reach a place where the idea seems to have stalled out (which, as it happens, is never the case), I know to step away, concentrate on other things so that when I return to the project, I’m *yearning* to work on it. Sometimes I get too close to the material and lose perspective. During those times, I’ll engage my analytical side. I’ll draw. I’ll walk. I’ll work on a different project. This only lasts a few days and, as the project has begun to move again in my absence, I climb aboard and guide it to fruition. It may take several “down times” to accomplish this, but never am I mentally or emotionally far from the work. Even if it needs to ferment and gestate in the depths of my mind, I don’t give up.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I picture creativity being a dolphin, sometimes playing on the surface, sometimes diving deep. But it’s always there, we just have to decide whether we’re brave enough to delve deep or skim the surface.

        Liked by 1 person

          1. “I feel that the longer I do the work, the better I get at knowing how to do the work. It is a beautiful thing.” And the longer you “do the work” you get better at knowing how NOT to “do the work.” And the important thing is that “the work” is not “work” at all. It is an extension of your energy that goes out to meet an exchange. We need a new word for this kind of “work” and I am creating paths toward it. Want to join me?


            1. I am really glad that you liked this, and thankyou for your offer.
              My work keeps me very busy, and I am happy with it, but good luck with your journey, and thanks again for stopping by,
              Have a good one,
              – J


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