I am having a fine old time at the moment, getting my full eight hours of sleep, beavering merrily away over the virtual manuscript in the morning and then sometimes in the afternoon as well, occasionally later even than that, tucking my various other pleasures into the other moments of the day. All that travelling up and down to London, then into the city itself and out, it adds up to a vast number of empty hours that I can now use.

I completed the first draft of the orchestration for the Dunstan cantata yesterday morning in fairly short order, and rather than powering down for the day as a lazily earned reward I instead got straight to work on a new piece for a competition submission for an instrument I have not written before. Apart from the slight chance that the piece might in due course make some kind of impression I am also aware that I need to work on my writing for instrumental and chamber ensembles.

I should make clear that I know that I can write for these forces, but I need to work out a kind of default manner in which to approach writing for them, a template for putting my raw material together. I have tried so many approaches over the years, often in a slightly scattergun fashion, and know that it is time that I codified my procedures, so that I can write what I like in a comfortable and assured manner, not necessarily making it easy, but hopefully making it easier.

It helps that there is a simple signal that tends to tell me if something is working, and it manifests itself in a feeling of enthusiasm. When I feel that I am chipping away at a piece and going nowhere it is often a sign that I should be working in another direction, but when things feel good, when I start to feel enthusiastic about what is on the page, that tends to bode well.

That is exactly the feeling that I have about this new piece, even though I only have about thirty seconds or so of material. The enthusiasm is for the possibilities of that very early fragment, what it might do and where it might lead, and that is the main thrust of my work for today.