As of yesterday, my left eyelid twitches. As do my fingers, toes and a tiny, as yet unidentified muscle in my calf. Thus far, I have resisted the urge to rip open WebMD and misdiagnose myself with a variety of disorders…all fatal. It’s as if the minuscule muscles, sick of being ignored and unappreciated, have decided to exploit my greatest weakness: hypochondria.
Every writer is a hypochondriac. How could we not be? We spend all of our time imagining what it is like to FEEL all kinds of things: love, hate, pain, grief, the loss of a limb, the possession of an extra limb, superpowers, or a slow painful death by exsanguination. We live in the possibilities. There is a shadow place, between personal goals and the universal experience, that most people skip over like the cracks in a sidewalk. Artists, writers, musicians, we don’t just see the fissures, we cram our vulnerable fingers right in there. We claw through the disgusting detritus to find the dirty truth of why humans do what they do. Then, we taste it. Consume it. Like a restaurant critic, we let the goop sit on our tongues, until we can identify the separate pungent flavors.
Creative people are by nature, fun people…on a good day. On a bad day, we see everything as an ominous portent for the end of our tiny universes.
This is a bad day for me. I have two scripts that must be drafted in the next 40 days. One of them, I am writing with a partner, who lives on the opposite coast. Surprisingly, that project is easier to write, because Jamie is just a phone call away when the specter of writer’s block clamps its jagged jaws onto my ass. We met during the extraordinary writer’s experience called Cinestory. (If you receive a coveted invite, GO.) Jamie brings his humor, objectivity, and WTF perspective to every session. He wrote a book Hard Sell, which he then adapted into the Jake Gyllenhall/Anne Hathaway flick “Love and Other Drugs”. If you didn’t love it, don’t worry, he got rewritten.
My other project is funny as hell and already an exec has told me that, based on the pitch, it will be another breakthrough script for me. I love the idea of this particular story taking my career to the next level. But first, I have to finish it. And then rewrite it. And rewrite it. And rewrite it. And cry. And rewrite it.
While I am trying to savor my protagonist’s self-defeating gravitas, my left eye constantly tries to close itself, blinding me to one half of the world. It is like having a faulty windshield wiper…on the driver’s side. So you can understand why this twitch is a peculiar obstacle for me right now. Luckily, that is what Facebook friends are for.
Somewhere along the social media game of “Telephone”, I connected with a doctor, who posts about colitis, cancer-fighting vegetables, and small kittens taking baths in tea cups. Naturally, I seek her advice. Worst case, she sends me an adorable photo of Siamese kittens cuddling on a sofa. I’m pretty sure that cures everything. I’ll ask her.
My faraway friend tells me in no uncertain terms to chill out. And stop staying up all night. And do some yoga. Take magnesium. And for the love of Starbucks, stop drinking caffeinated coffee fifty times a day.
I do what I always do when a total stranger who claims to be a licensed physician gives me advice over the Internet, I follow it.
The next day, only the eye twitch remains, but I can control it by clenching my eyelid muscles. Did you know you that’s even possible? Like I said, lots of minuscule muscles. I spend the rest of that day’s writing session churning out pages and doing eyeball Kegels. By dinner time, I’ve got 15 script pages and as they say, I could crack nuts with my left eye.
I have a new appreciation for the twitch. It made me slow down and focus on something small, essential, and largely ignored. That new perspective led to a parallel consideration of small, essential, and largely ignored story details. Those raw 15 pages are the best I’ve written on this project so far. I feel good, maybe even great.
Now, if only I could do something about that weird freckle.