Sent this to my email list earlier this week but thought it would also make a good blog post.
It started several weeks ago — a creeping anxiety that left me cranky, oft-distracted, and generally a little difficult to be around. I think it was easier for others to be around me, because these days I have good tools for ensuring things don’t get that bad. But — especially whilst walking around with myself — I was bothering me.
Of course, I obsessed over this a little bit. I thought and thought about what could be wrong. Tried on a few different reasons and excuses. None worked.
Then, eventually, it occurred to me that perhaps something was rattling around in my head, outside of my awareness. There was one idea that I had been toying with a bit, that seemed to be calling for attention but hadn’t yet quite formed into anything graspable.
Also, I was already working on something (a new short story, coming soon) and was determined to finish it before starting something else. You can’t grasp something that isn’t there yet, right?
Contrarily, though, you can’t stop some stories from asserting themselves, either.
Invariably, despite my plans, the something else broke out anyway. It happened once I stopped obsessing. Once I stopped working. It wasn’t until I acknowledged the weakness of my position (anxious without a clear path to reprieve) that I realized that the thing to do was to let go and focus on the mundane.
I did dishes. I ran a bath — yes, in the summer. I stayed off my phone, and away from other inputs.
That’s when the idea I had been batting around turned into “a thing”. I felt characters come to life within the thing. I scratched out notes until I felt I had a sense of who they were going to be, and what was going to happen to them. Later, it would dawn on me that, before all that, I had just been suffering from my latest case of Script Head.
That seems to be how it goes for me, lately. The good stuff arranges itself, on its own, as I go about my life. It comes out when it’s ready, then it asserts itself with discomfort. That’s okay. It was mild discomfort this time. I’m a more prepared and willing vessel than I used to be.
So I’ve started a new script. It feels special. Like an arrival at a place where I didn’t know I was headed over the past few years. I’m excited to write the first draft.
Stories are never more beautiful and perfect than when they begin to assert themselves towards their first form. What makes it onto the screen or the paper — even with that first draft — it doesn’t measure up to the feeling of being there for the genesis.
Handling raw story material truly is a privilege.