“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost.” ― Martha Graham
I am at work turning a play of mine into a screenplay — or rather, using the play as a loose basis for a screenplay. I’m writing about a writer having a crisis of heart and of faith. She yearns for a larger, more “important” meaning in her life and is convinced it lies outside of herself, outside her small apartment. She doesn’t know where, but it’s certainly not on the hard drive of her computer. She’s tested; she has an epiphany; she’s tested some more. Someone dies, something in her dies and she is reborn and realizes that everything she has to give the world lies within herself.
“We must cultivate our gardens.” — Voltaire, Candide.
Along the way, my heroine sheds certain habits that don’t serve her. She stops cooking compulsively and does things that don’t necessarily feel comfortable, like spending the day with a slightly douche-y neighbor (with whom she ultimately falls in love). As for me, there are several ways I manage to avoid writing. In my last blog post I talked about spending the day helping some Chihuahuas fly across the country. Easier and less gut-wrenching avoidance tactics include living out the fabulous lives of Facebook acquaintances, obsessively browsing casting breakdowns, and organizing my face products. As my heroine is on the brink of change, I cling to these habits even more tightly. I write a word, I check Facebook. I eek out a sentence; I forage through the fridge. Fear grips me — fear of moving into uncharted territory, fear of being called talentless, fear of not finding my mascara minutes before a date.
“In the world of the dreamer there was solitude: all the exaltations and joys came in the moment of preparation for living. They took place in solitude. But with action came anxiety, and the sense of insuperable effort made to match the dream, and with it came weariness, discouragement, and the flight into solitude again. And then in solitude, in the opium den of remembrance, the possibility of pleasure again.” — Anais Nin
Like my heroine, I know I have to move past these habits. I have to sit down and let the story write itself. It feels like a mythical match of wills because in some way it is: love versus fear, three-headed demons that grunt and shuffle versus incandescent fairies that fly, life versus death. I know this. I also know I have no choice. If I want to tell this story, I have to sit down, move out of the way, and let it happen on its own.
“Creativity takes courage. ” – Henri Matisse
I force myself. It’s one of those do-or-die moments. Did I mention this story is slightly autobiographical? My heroine doesn’t make a casserole. I don’t check Facebook. I realize there’s nowhere to go, that this is life, right here in this moment and on this page. I realize this just as she finds peace and solace in her life. Or maybe she came first? It’s impossible to know. One informs the other in a beautiful, terrifying, life-altering dance that I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world. The fact is, everything that comes after — for her and for me — is gravy. We had to do this. We were called forth, our destinies inextricably linked.
I’m thinking next time I’ll write about a five year-old boy.