Thursday, July 8, 2010

Day 91: A thief called “worry”

I’ll be honest with you, there are days that I sit down at this keyboard and think “jeez, what am I going to put on the Blog today?” The idea of The Hungry Screenwriter came about via many country lanes, one of which was the fact that, as a writer, I was sinking in such a quagmire of anonymity that even I began to question whether the professional me really existed.

It’s been noted on these pages before, that the pursuit of feature film writing is for those who favour long distance over the sprint; that’s not to say that writers can’t, don’t and won’t drum things up quick as Valeri Borzov (I think he was the Russian who ran the first sub-ten second 100m in the Mexico games of 1968 or was it Munich ’74?). Most of us however, plying our craft up and down these waters, will do well to be more studious of the Finns - like Lasse Viren - who acquitted themselves so well in the 5,000 and 10,000m or Kip Keno and the never-ending stream of Kenyan distance runners that have loped along since.

One motivation for blogging was to demonstrate to me and others that, as a writer, I do actually exist: I write, therefore I am (with a nod to Descartes). It has proven to be a powerful antidote to my bugeoning professional invisibility.

I have a number of irons in the writing fire at the moment and yet, like any good and insecure writer, worth their bottle of blue-black ink, I’m wondering if any of them will......what is it exactly that irons in the fire are meant to do? I’ll try another analogy: in Shakespeare’s ‘The Merchant of Venice’, the “merchant”, Antonio, has ships at sea, homeward bound, laden with who-knows-what of great value. Antonio borrows against this cargo and loans money from the usurer Shylock. When no word comes of Antonio’s merchant flotilla, all is feared lost and Shylock calls in the agreed forfeit (in the event that Antonio should default in his repayment): “ equal pound of your fair flesh, to be cut off and taken in what part of your body pleaseth me.”

I feel like Antonio with my ships out at sea, not knowing how they fare, ignorant of whether my treasured cargo will sink to the bottom of the ocean or return to me, forunately, my pound of flesh is figurative rather than literal.

Richard Bach - he who wrote ‘Jonathan Livingstone Seagull’ - had a idea in his book ‘The Bridge Across Forever’ when he found himself all at sea: taking a greyhound ride from New York to Miami, the author realised that he’d hopped aboard for the long journey, ill-prepared, with no book, what he did have though, was a pen and some paper (the writer’s perennial friends). The journey of the book and Richard Bach’s quest at the time, was to find his soulmate, wondering where “she” might be coming from, worried that “she” might never appear. He too was worrying about a cargo somewhere far over the horizon, out of sight of land.

To still his worried mind on the bus, Richard Bach did this: in his 30’s at the time, he recalled some of the concerns that he had when he was in his early 20’s and wrote a letter back to himself with the wisdom and experience of the years that had ensued, laying those unfounded and ungrounded fears to rest. Next, he imagined himself 10 or 15 years on and wrote a similar letter back to himself in the present, again to reassure him that life would all take it’s own sweet course and that he was not to lose the gift of the day he had, in mortal fear of the future.

“Worry”; it’s nigh-on pretty useless, is it not? Can anything possibly positive come from worrying? Can any good come out of me worrying about what may or may not come to pass with my prospective projects? I think not, yet still I have not been granted immunity from these sometimes crippling feelings of anxiety and doubt.

Day #90 Tip: Put to sea on a tide of faith
I’m not sure whether “worry” is the fifth horseman of the apocalypse, the eighth of the seven deadly sins or the tenth of the winged Nazgul, but what I do know is that it is of no use, whatsoever to me.

There are no sure-fire remedies that I can offer. We all have our concept of entities like the Universe, God, the Force, Mother Nature, Ki and the like that we can hand ourselves over to, I find taking that abdicating my poistion as the “fat controller” of my life helps a great deal as well as good old-fashioned distraction or it’s mirror-image of centering on the fear and dispersing it. For worry is surely the hand-wringing mother of fear, isn’t it?

I don’t know whether it was my upbringing or maybe a generational thing, but as I used to head for the front door of my childhood, a voice from within my home would always caution “be careful out there”. Why didn’t anyone ever say “have a blast out there, knock yourself out, it’s a great world full of exotic and wonderful surprises”?

You know, Antonio was right to send his ships on their errand for “ships are safest when in harbour, but ships weren’t built to sit in harbours”. I’m safest when I’m sitting on my sofa, in my home not attempting anything, I can minimize the risk of what might befall me and, sure as eggs are eggs, I can curtail the prospect of what amazing adventures might lay ahead as well.

That’s the best panacea for worry that I’ve got and that’s how I come to be writing this today.

No comments:

Post a Comment