Blind – A nightmare

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Just before 5 am on October 14—Thanksgiving morning—I had the sudden feeling that I’d gone blind…in my creative centre. I could think of things, objects, but I could not “see” them in my mind’s eye.

Just moments earlier, I had been asleep, dreaming of the typical nonsense one dreams of when suddenly lines of darkness spread across the dream, at first like large lightning bolts but then growing in width to eventually swallow the entire picture. It was as though the picture tube in my head was failing and then extinguished. .And stranger still, the static was accompanied by a slight clicking sound, and then the screen was blank, black, empty.

The sensation was strange enough to wake me up. I lay there in bed wondering what it was.

I wasn’t literally blind. Even in the near pitch darkness of the bedroom, I could make out shapes—the storage racks in the closet, the dresser, the bedside lamp. So, what was happening?

I tried to close my eyes to go to sleep, but all I saw was darkness, the flashes of light that one sees when closing the eyelids but continues to look. Have I had a stroke?

I tried to think of a duck—I don’t know why a duck, but it was a duck—and couldn’t see it. Still can’t, really, at 5:10 am.

This may sound ironic, but I immediately wondered if my imagination had died. I tried to tell myself a story, in my head, and the words came hesitantly at first, but soon began to flow.

I imagined a man being thrown from a car—again, I don’t know why that topic—and while I could narrate the event, I couldn’t really visualize it.

The door swinging open as the car veers. The man tumbling sideways through the opening, his body crumpling as it hits the pavement, limbs flailing as it rolls. He was already unconscious or dead when he fell out, it would seem.

Even now, as I write out the scene I created earlier in my head, the picture is tentative, furtive. I am somewhat relieved that I get any picture at all, but am still bothered about how fleeting it is.

I’m not struggling for words, which is some solace, but then this is my analytical mind that is speaking, telling the story of what I am experiencing, rather than my creative mind, telling a story of events completely synthetic.

If the thought of having lost my visual imaginative centre didn’t scare me so much, I’d be amused. For the last couple of weeks, as I complained to Leela yesterday, I have found it difficult to get to sleep because my mind has raced with ideas—ideas for scenes and rewrites in my latest screenplay, ideas for the DDNews article I have due shortly, ideas for social media, ideas for my blog.

Hell, I’ve even taken to seeing events in my life as a screenplay.

I am just getting over a cold, and while waiting for sleep the other night, I realized that I was thinking about my symptoms and my experiences with them as though they were written as a screenplay. I would consider them and then try to rewrite them for more dramatic effect. It was odd.

I wasn’t dissociating per se, pretending that it was happening to someone else, stepping out of my body. Rather it was more like I had morphed my reality into a printed page. It’s hard to explain, especially at 5:26 am.

And now, my mind races for exactly the opposite reason. My inner video screen has gone out. The bulb is shot. I don’t see what I think. And that terrifies me.

I have often told people that my writing feels like it is less about my creation and more like I am simply transcribing a movie that only I can see. The movie, story, idea already exists in the cosmos and is merely using me as a conduit through which to express itself.

This is not to denigrate my talents as a writer—or at least, I don’t think it is—but I think the talent is in not preventing that flow, not ignoring the sights, sounds, tastes, feelings as they move through me and eventually out of the nib of the pen or fingertip on the keyboard.

What if that flow just got turned off? What if that nexus of creative spirit just moved on to someone or somewhere else? This doesn’t feel like the standard “I’m a talentless hack” anxiety. I am a very talented hack.

This feels more like a switch has been turned. Like I have gone blind.

Maybe it’s the cold medication taking its toll. Maybe it’s my brain’s way of coping with the recent hyperactivity. Maybe it’s nothing and the switch will turn back on, the system will reboot in my sleep.

I hope so.

Because this is one nightmare I couldn’t live with.

(Image is property of owner and is used here without permission)

Finding the Critical Sweet Spot – Part Two

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In the last post, we talked about the challenge of finding someone to critique your work in a way that was actionable; someone who was neither too hard nor too soft on you. Below, we continue the conversation by address the need for that person to be available for ongoing discussion and the limitations of options like coverage services.

Availability: A lot of screenwriters rely on coverage services to get feedback on their screenplays and there are a number of reputable organizations and readers out there.

The challenge, I find, with these services is that they tend to be unidirectional and/or very brief. You send your work, you receive a written report, you may receive an oral report—which allows you to ask questions—but ultimately, it’s “here you go”.

You can get more, you can have follow-up, but it’ll cost more.

As well, I think you really miss out on improving your own skills, knowledge and understanding of story through the critiquing of the work of others.

I also worry that the use of a professional service when your work and skill sets are at a nascent level is largely a waste of their time and your money. The feedback you receive will likely be so broad, so sweeping that it could easily overwhelm you. As well, any minor change you make at one stage is liable to make any of the remaining feedback moot.

Better, I think, that you find someone who is also trying to grow their skills, who understands and shares your needs and fragility. They want and need your help as much as you want and need theirs, and so you’ll be more apt to make time for each other.

Again, it is about building a relationship of trust.

Transient state: Unfortunately, no two people develop at the same rate, and even if you find yourself in a trusting artistic relationship, you will likely find that one of you is ready to move forward faster than the other. It happens in all facets of life.

As your Art develops, you will find that your needs change, and that the partner that got you to one stage of development cannot get you to the next one. It is time to bow to your partner and move on to the next one.

If you’re lucky, both of you recognize this and move on without acrimony. Not everyone is lucky. But for your Art to flourish, the move is necessary.

I wish I could tell you that there is an easy way to make the transition, but in my experience, it is like the end of a marriage and the need to start dating again. The footwork is shaky and the verbiage is awkward, but you won’t die of embarrassment.

The key is to remember why you’re doing this, why it is important to you, and then to simply move forward.

You’ll be okay.

 

Coverage services I have used or have had recommended to me:

Marsha Mason at Why The Face

Terry Zinner at A Film Writer

Scriptapalooza Coverage

(Image is property of owner and is used here without permission because it was available now)