I'm not sure what you might call it, but I think I came very close to the verge of a "writer meltdown" yesterday. I'm usually pretty good at forging ahead, not over-thinking anything or allowing doubt to creep into my head, but yesterday it got me.
It all started yesterday after lunch, when I was sitting at my desk, tinkering with my script. One of the handymen for my building was painting outside my window. There are two guys, twins, (I call them "Daryl and Daryl" but not to their faces). And though I try to talk to them when I see them, they don't speak much English and therefore I've been making less of an effort to make conversation. They don't seem to mind. But this guy was right outside my window, on his ladder, and it was making me self-conscious. As if he were at the zoo checking out an exhibit called "Writer in Captivity." I wanted to shut the blinds, but for some reason that seemed like it would be somehow rude or unsocial. So I tried to keep writing, but his face kept popping up in my peripheral vision. I decided I needed to get out of the house. (I'm not usually this neurotic, I swear).
I took the script and headed over to the Novel Café. Got some tea and sat upstairs, overlooking the dozen other struggling (or not) writers down below, tapping at laptops. I had decided on the way there that I would spend the afternoon reading the entire script, from start to finish, without taking any notes or trying to rewrite any scenes. Just read it.
Two hours later, I put the script down, followed by my head into my hands. What the hell was this thing? Was it really as "funny" and "cute" and "good" as my friends had claimed? Or was it as mediocre as I now thought it was? Was this something I wanted to spend two more years of my life making? Was this a script that actors are going to read and want to be in? Was this a movie anyone was going to see? Or another generic independent film that people put their hearts into but nobody ever sees? There were 145 other questions but I'll spare you.
God. What a mess. I went out to the beach and took a few deep breaths. Watched the sun go down. It was a beautiful, crisp evening. Too many questions to face. Or to ignore. I thought back to what made me write this thing in the first place. What I was trying to say. What had motivated me. All the reasons were still there if I could push aside the clouds of doubt that probably every artist faces, the moment the curtain goes up or the music starts or the gallery opens. Life is about risk and art is no different. Nothing paralyzes better than doubt and fear. You've got to just create stuff, put it out there and hope for the best. Hope that it flies. And even if it crashes, at least you tried and are probably a little wiser because of it.
Well, that's what I'm telling myself.