Nick Ahad: Why we shouldn't put a label on creativity
I have three different business cards and I really need to make sure I hand out the correct one in the right circumstance. I was recently on Radio 4’s Front Row, reviewing a new movie of Chekhov’s The Seagull: fairly heavy stuff. Handing the business card that describes me as “Comedian” to the producer was a mistake.
I am, variously: Yorkshire Post theatre correspondent, BBC Radio Leeds presenter, playwright, occasional host of live events and occasional TV pundit. In recent months, also a stand-up comedian.
People often wonder to me, out loud, how I fit it all in. Some also wonder silently ‘who the hell does he think he is?’ (I see it in their eyes).
The fitting it all in question is tricky because I am without doubt, and people often look at me disbelieving when I tell them this, but it’s true, the laziest person you know.
Seriously, my lethargy is epic.
I fit it all in because, well, I have to, it’s as simple as that.
Twenty years of journalism teaches you to hit deadlines. If I have to watch a movie for Front Row, file a Yorkshire Post article and work on a first draft of a new play in a weekend, I do it.
Without deadlines I can while away a day like you wouldn’t believe. I can very easily hit 9pm and think: was I wearing these clothes when I got up this morning? The answer is quite often; yes.
The “who do I think I am” question I see in the eyes of folk when I explain I am a writer, broadcaster, comedian, is complex. I’m someone who likes creating stuff and don’t care that people ‘have opinions’ about someone who does that: and boy do they have opinions.
We don’t seem to like people who won’t stay in the box that has been designed for them, people who get ‘above their station’ or attempt something new.
My first major play was something I wrote and directed without ever once being asked to. While I was a news reporter at the Yorkshire Evening Post I went to the editor with an idea for an arts magazine and six months later became the Yorkshire Post Arts Editor and I became a radio presenter at BBC Radio Leeds after spending 12 months turning up for a weekly unpaid spot.
I am a mass of insecurities, desperate for acceptance (aren’t we all?) but a while ago I realised that the approval of other people is no reason to pursue any creative ambition – and more importantly, their disapproval is no reason not to.
The desire to do it is the only thing that matters. People will sneer, they will question your ambition, they will rubbish your dreams, but as someone smarter than me once wrote: the race is long and in the end, it’s only with yourself.