I continued with work on the Dunstan cantata yesterday, sketching in harmonies here and there and adding lines, all the while trying to work out whether my initial ideas should stand as they are or be altered in the light of what has come since, attempting to make sense of the disparate forces puling in different directions. A line from the final Soundgarden album was whizzing round and round my head in the background – How far is halfway there? – but I fear that halfway is still someway (sic) off.

That is not dispiriting, though, because this is one of those long step-by-step projects, and at least I have a slice of time in which to get it done. In my opinion time is the most precious commodity that one can buy and one needs to spend it as wisely as possible, including time off.

This afternoon, in the midst of various appointments and errands, I am meeting with somebody about the possibility of some keyboard work later this year and next, and I will be interested to hear what they have to say. Once upon a time I would have leapt at this opportunity, but now I need to weigh up the pros and cons and see how they fit in to what I already have planned my 2020 vision.

It reminds me a little of that response that the great and reclusive conductor Carlos Kleiber once gave to an invitation of work – from recollection I believe it not to be apocryphal. It goes along the lines of “You have offered me the two things I desire most – flattery and money – so, yes, I accept.”

It can be difficult as a writer to remember that, in the midst of the offers and the temptations to do this, that or the other, time spent at the creative desk is working for oneself, for the boss who can be the most demanding at one point and then give you the afternoon off the next. Both the boss and the worker in me are constantly in some kind of tussle to keep the other from demanding too much, so I am interested to see how today runs out and how it might impact upon next year.

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