To start a journey you need to take the first step. Obvious really, even when you are sitting there and not doing anything much about getting feet onto the ground, but that initial shift into motion can be the hardest thing, partially because of inertia, of course, but partially because the destination seems so far off. Is it even really there at all or is that just an illusion?

After more than enough faffing around and finding something – anything! – else to do I finally fired up Sibelius and began to add stave after stave to the piano score of the symphony. I was going to break ground on the piece proper and spend a morning orchestrating.

By the time I downed tools for lunch I had got a decent way into the first movement, some tricky decisions giving way to easier going, and all the time making sure that my score-setting hygiene is as clean as can be. It is beyond easy to give orchestral players parts that are riddled with errors, ambiguities and worse, so, if it ever comes to the day that this piece comes to life, I want them to be able to go straight in and have a decent idea immediately of what I want.

This care and attention does mean that I have to take a deep breath every now and again and remind myself that this will take as long as it takes. After all, there is no deadline by which this piece needs to be done, no orchestra as yet itching to go, so I have the luxury of being able to focus on the details to a degree of depth that would not be possible if there were a rush.

One of the excuses that I have used for not getting going on this earlier was the possibility that it is not quite finished, not yet in its final pre-orchestrated state, but I think that I can live with that and tinker with the small adjustments as I go along, as I am reasonably confident that there are only minor areas that still need work. At the back of my mind there sits Sibelius’s experience with his 5th Symphony, which went through entirely different completed and performed versions, but I hope that I shall not need to go that far.

The great white whale…