I read an interview once that I can’t find online, so I can’t quote it directly, and will probably mangle it beyond recognition, BUT it was with Tina Fey. The interviewer asked if she ever dreamed she’d have this kind of success, and she said something to the effect of yes, of course she did, but she’s a creative person and has wild dreams that include every possible outcome, including getting trapped in a room full of french fries and having to eat her way to freedom.
I haven’t had the french fry dream in particular, but I can still relate. At the beginning of every project, I am absolutely positive it will be the greatest thing ever, and catapult me to unprecedented mega-success! I dream of myself doing the talk show circuit, walking the red carpet, thanking the Academy, and hugging Oprah (doesn’t matter that she’s sans show — hugging Oprah is still a part of the fantasy).
At the exact same time, I’m equally positive the project will be a complete bust that will rain ridicule upon me from here to the end of time. I dream of myself never getting a writing job again, doors slamming in my face, and shame weighing so heavily upon my back that I walk stooped over like Igor, sniveling, weeping, and moaning in eternal agony.
It’s like those cartoons where they show a diagram of someone’s brain, divided into sections. Mine would probably be one-third delusions of grandeur, one third panicked hysteria, and the last third basic human functions.
And while I know — or at least I like to believe — this way of thinking isn’t that uncommon, and probably very human… it’s not so helpful. It’s tough to get deeply involved in a story when you’re too busy having panic attacks or floating on a cloud of Oprah-love. I’m far better served when I can manage to stay in the moment and concentrate on my characters, my story, my words and phrases… all the things I can actually control.
Dreams are great, big-picture. My dreams keep me striving to improve and to do more and stretch my limits. My fears… they’re nuisances, really, and I’d love to shoo them away, but I don’t see that happening. If Anne Lamott still hears radio station KFKD, I can’t fault myself for hearing it too. But there’s a place for both the grandiose dreams and the nightmares, and that place is not during writing time.
I’ve yet to master my own roving mind. When I’m able to get out of my own way, everything flows; when I’m not… the work still happens, but it’s much slower going. I’ve been told meditating would help me tremendously, and it’s one of those things that has been on my to-do list for a very long time (which seems odd — something as transcendental as meditation on a to-do list), but I’ve yet to commit to it.
How about you? Does your brain taunt you with wild dreams and nightmares like mine does? If so, what do you do to keep your mind in the right place when you’re writing? I can use the advice now more than ever — Populazzi‘s release date is just two weeks away, Amazon.com has already released it, and I’m diving into a brand new project. The mind games are out in force, so thanks in advance for your words of wisdom!