I've been in a funk lately. And not the cute sitcom kind where I sit on the couch for a day or so and fire pithy quips at the boob tube or whomever blocks my view during Oprah.
No…this has been a bonafide funk. The real deal.
I've lived my life, sure. Every day, though, has felt like slogging through mud. Every action requires five times the energy. And everything that comes out of my mouth seems lame. Probably is lame, as the dead space between me and whatever thought I'm searching for, much less the right word, can be measured in astronomical units, and then there’s no guarantee that whatever I latch onto is right or appropriate or even coherent.
It’s really bugged me because I am at a “feet don’t fail me now” point in my life. It’s not simply that there are a lot of things I want to accomplish; there are myriad things I need to get done. You know…keep life integral stuff.
I make lists and then sit down in front of my computer (through which most of said work must be done)…and nothing. Well, not if you count reading Yahoo! News or thumbing through my iTunes library. I excel at those lately.
What gives? It’s not only that I have to get these things done…I want to. There’s so many things I want to do, and this goddamned funk—it’s mucking it all up.
For every day the list is swelling with the things I didn’t get done the day before. Things small and large. Overflowing. Dropping onto the floor around my feet. In pieces. Which leaves another, more complicated and troublesome task to heap atop everything else: picking up the pieces and trying to put them back together.
And trying to keep forward movement—hell! ANY movement—going.
So far, I’ve been able to keep things reasonably together. Things are fine. The speaking has been going well, and things have been moving forward with INCARNATION. But I know. Inside I now that my performance is sub-par. And there have been outward signs lately—the orbital decay has become apparent to others.
I am tired of hearing the whys and the well-meaning hypotheses, from me as much as anyone else. I just want my energy back. I just want me back.
The silver lining in this dark cloud is that when the world is quiet (or I succeed in simply ignoring it), I am experiencing some of the most creative journeys ever through my inner space. The result is that the MANIACAL ENGINEERING story I’ve landed on is, I believe, pretty good. It feels fresh and inspired. As I work to put it together, I am realizing that it represents a real evolution in not just my storytelling ability, but in my story generating ability as well.
And then there’s the matter of the other thing that’s cooking in my head all of a sudden. The stuff that Facebook entries like “Bill had an interesting creative realization Monday that set his mind a-whirring. Me thinks…it just might work” are made of. I don’t wanna say too much about it. I’ve bounced it off a couple of people in my inner sanctum and gotten the wide-eyed, smiling nods that tell me I am on the trail of something worthy of pursuit.
It’s important for now that I keep the idea close to my chest. Not that I think it’s gonna get stolen or anything like that. At the moment, it’s simply delicate, fragile. It’s going to require a lot of TLC to grow into a strong and full-fledged concept, much less a great script.
But for the first time since the germ of this idea popped into being (which was a few years ago), scenes are playing in my head. I am hearing characters talk, seeing them interact. Dots are being connected between them. The world and the path through it are revealing themselves to me. That feels good.
And it’s a TV idea. I’ve been wanting to come back to TV for over a decade now. Even gooder.
Which leads me inevitably to this: do I just relax?
All the billboards along the Interstate warning us about the dangers of depression aside, everyone gets the blues, right? I mean, please don’t misunderstand—I’m not demeaning the seriousness of depression. I know it’s real. I know it’s devastating. I know it’s a killer.
Trust me. I know.
My statement isn’t one of denigration or denial, it’s one of recognition, yet trying to get a handle on type and severity. Of trying to identify whether or not I am on well-trodden common ground or somewhere else…somewhere lost and needing to call for help.
It’s not like I’ve never been in a funk before. It’s not like I have never been flat-out depressed before. And though this funk has felt more acute than others in the past, I sort of understand how I got here. Take everything that’s happened in the last several years and line it up, and it makes sense that I would feel tired. Yet, I don’t want to make the mistake of dismissing it out of hand because I know how slippery a slope these funky things can be.
Hmmm… Well, I guess here’s where I stand (hence my “do I just relax?” comment)…I know that over the course of the past couple of weeks I've been feeling incrementally better. I feel a little lighter. I know that through sheer force of will I am kick-starting myself and attending to a number of things that have been screaming for my attention. These are good signs, adding up to a feeling of “I’m on the upswing.”
I know that all of a sudden I am writing again. That’s a good sign, too.
And there’s the rub. I am writing again. Harvesting ideas fertilized and cultivated in the manure pile of this funk.
I remember telling a psychologist once that I wanted to be happy in my life, “but not too happy.” I worried that through the course of therapy I would lose a grip on my underlying angst. That it might dissipate and be gone forever. That would be a bad thing, I thought. Tantamount to a creative lobotomy.
Well, fear not, self. You have nothing to worry about. Through thick and thin, your beloved angst hasn’t gone anywhere. I doubt it ever will. Then again, you know now what you knew then, huh? It’s par for the course. An occupational hazard, if you will.
Laborers have back injuries. Typists have carpel tunnel and eye-strain. Miners have black lung.
Writers…we have our angst. Our funks. In the end, I suppose it’s a good thing. It is, after all, as much a source of our inspiration—maybe even more so—than our elation. And, I must admit, there is an odd comfort in that.
Keeping it in check. Keeping perspective. Only heading so far down the rabbit hole. Now that’s the trick, ain’t it?