A few weeks ago, I typed “FADE OUT. THE END.” on my latest project; a dramatic pilot for a limited series. Any screenwriter who reads this knows the complex emotions in the accomplishment of it. Married to the truth of this ineffable sensation is the knowing that the real work is ahead. The rewrite. So, after the celebratory glass of my favorite red and a decadent dark chocolate truffle, I sent the draft off to my trusted screenwriter sisterfriend for notes, then, on to registration with the WGA and the Library of Congress, a possible table reading for more notes, then, on to another rewrite before sending it to the next phase of its process as we’ve outlined it.
Simultaneously, buried beneath the business and process of it all is what happens every time I finish a project. The fear of what to do next creatively. Or, more accurately, the fear that the next idea won’t come. Or that when the ideas do come, they will be stupid or stolen, or none of them will have story girth and breadth worth actualizing.
The fear comes every time. It did this time. And, like with the tens of screenplays past, I went to bed with that fear and woke up the next morning with the inspiration for the next idea. Crazy right?
Cultivating a practice as a writer has been an important part of surviving the fear. While I don’t “write” daily, I do develop story elements and concepts daily. I read scripts and books and content daily. I make character, dialogue, location, and idea notes daily. I listen and watch and experience things daily. I watch films and tv shows daily. I do all of this with intention because the fear doesn’t stop coming. My love of writing supersedes my fear, so, I write. I also lean into my safe spaces and call on my hand-picked posse to lift me up and cheer me on toward the next FADE OUT. I have a conversation with God, do some self-care, and regain my footing until the next inevitable wave of fear strikes.
Hanging on the walls of my classroom are the two poems that open and close this post: “A Litany for Survival” by Audre Lorde and “Our Deepest Fear” by Marianne Williamson. I use them occasionally in lessons. I have printed them on bookmarks for my graduating seniors. I read them to myself to remind myself of who I am and what I intend. I remind myself that I am not alone. The scars of childhood can make you grow up small. I remind myself to indulge my dreams of writing now to breed futures of truth and of healing.
I am posting these poems here for you, dear Reader. In the moments when you find yourself standing crucial and alone, may you find your light, liberate yourself beyond your fears, and give yourself permission to be your most brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous self.
Onward and upward…
OUR DEEPEST FEAR
By Marianne Williamson
Our deepest fear is not
that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that
we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness
that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves,
“Who am I to be brilliant,
gorgeous, talented, fabulous?”
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small
does not serve the world.
There’s nothing enlightened
about shrinking so that other people
won’t feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine,
as children do.
We were born to make manifest
the glory of God that is within us.
It’s not just in some of us;
it’s in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give other people
permission to do the same.
As we’re liberated from our own fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.