Saturday, July 22, 2006

Fear of Dreaming

I have a confession: I am afraid of my dreams. Not just the nightmares where I fall off cliffs, am chased through blind alleys that dead end in chain link fences, or am trapped by well-meaning beauty consultants wielding makeup brushes and mascara wands. No, I'm afraid of the good ones--the ones where my agent/editor/reader loves my new book so much they recommend it to everyone they see and I make enough money to pay off my bills, buy as many office supplies as my little heart desires, and pay for my children's college education through Ph.D. without breaking a sweat.

I thought I was alone in this (we won't speak the words paranoid, insecure...and especially not the word right). But now I know I'm in good company. Maybe the best of company, since one of my secret dreams is that I become M. Night Shyamalan, the writer/director of some excellent films.

The Artful Writer says (about Michael Bamberger's book The Man Who Heard Voices, a biography of M. Night Shyamalan):

What Bamberger does capture, though, is the depth of Shyamalan’s insecurity and self-doubt. Whenever faced with doubt or rejection, Shyamalan descends into a miserable internal dialogue. His external dialogue involves repeated requests for faith or belief, but that’s baloney. Shyamalan doesn’t want mere faith or belief. He wants appreciation. He wants the audience to love what he wants them to love. He’s putting on a show, just like the rest of us in this business, and he craves their enjoyment.

That’s why his internal dialogues are so interesting, and so familiar.

Yes, the man makes millions of dollars. Yes, he’s managed to seize the very kind of creative control that most writers only dream of. Yes, he seems to reactively reject the concerns of Nina Jacobson, Dick Cook and Oren Aviv (full disclosure—I worked for Oren Aviv for two years as a marketing executive).

On the other hand, he actively seeks the input of a snippy internet reviewer, his assistants, his family…practically anyone near him. Shyamalan takes a lot of lumps for his precious behavior—he gets incredibly fretful when people don’t read his script right away the second they get it, and he gets even more agitated when they don’t respond the second they’ve finished it—but I understand that.

I feel the same way. I don’t talk about it, and I sure as hell don’t complain about it the way Shyamalan does, but I feel it. Of course I do. When we write screenplays, we obviously pour a tremendous amount of emotion and concern into it, and thus we are tremendously vulnerable to our readers and our audience.

Who knew? I already am M. Night Shyamalan...minus fame and fortune, but hey, that just means I still have some big dreams to aspire to make real. And some beta readers, an agent, and an editor to drive mad with my "love my work" pleas. After all, I need at least a fraction of the fortune, if not the fame, if I want to see my dreams for my children come true, never mind my own dreams. But the paralyzing doubt--and insecurities--of mothers is a topic for another blog.

Kelly McClymer's latest literary effort to please the world can be found here.

1 comment:

Allison Brennan said...

Kelly, you speak to me :) . . . I have the same doubts and fears and that damn internal monologue--I've heard other writers call it "the doubt demon"--is evil. It wants to destroy self-confidence and stop us from writing the next book.

But we write because that's what we do and if we're a little neurotic, well, we're entitled to it in this business.

Thanks for sharing those comments about M. Night!