One Foot in Front of the Other, Just for Today
Photo of Neal from his files
I’ve hit a bit of a wall again.
It’s not that I won’t write, but I can’t seem to settle on a story and bring it to completion.
Either it fizzles out or feels like a much-too-long piece for Medium.
I think I know why.
I wrote a piece called Cancer and Sobriety. I celebrated 5 years cancer-free on the 9th of June, and I wrote about it.
It’s the second time that I’ve written a piece that touched on a subject that left me feeling exposed in a way that I’m not used to.
While I want my stories to be read far and wide by people who live all over the world, and I want to feel and know that they have a positive and important impact, at the same time writing like this makes me feel as though I want to hide.
I’ve written fiction in the past, in the form of screenplays. I’ve told stories that are close to my heart, and I’ve directed them and acted in some of them. I’ve completed six short films that are personal to me.
I’ve been on stage as an actor in 33 U.S. states and 3 foreign countries. That’s a lot of cast meet-and-greets, first rehearsals, and opening nights.
I’ve had roles on network tv, in Hollywood and independent movies. Stepping onto the set and meeting stars and jumping into a scene with them can feel vulnerable.
I had three of my short films play as a block in a festival at a theatre in Greenwich Village and stood up front for a Q&A. My Mom and friends and family came from out of town, and we had a restaurant gathering afterward.
So, I’ve learned to put myself and my work out into the world where people will see it and form opinions and make judgments.
I’m not a trained writer, other than learning how to write screenplays.
I’ve talked about this in previous posts, and I see now that it’s something I’ll need to visit from time to time, and that’s the fact that I’ve never written in the first person, telling true non-fiction tales of my life in the first person, directly from me to you.
And I’m writing about my alcoholism. I’m opening up. To whom, I don’t know.
I don’t know the numbers, but there a LOT of subscribers to Medium. And there is a huge number of people who read a bit on Medium that don’t subscribe to it.
I’m still new to this. It takes a while for an individual writer to build a following on Medium. Some of the people following me have found me through my posts on the site, and that’s a fantastic thing to reach strangers and have a connection like that. I’ve followed many of them back, and some mutual support has developed.
And, I have friends and family who are following me. That feels very personal. It’s great, but it’s also kind of scary.
I mostly read non-fiction these days.
But I don’t read a lot of 1st-person essays and memoirs.
I’m realizing that I need to do that since that is the writing I’m doing here.
I also realize that my subconscious is working to come to terms with what to reveal about myself, and how far to go…what feels right.
I’ve read and love a lot of work by Anne Lamott. My wife is a huge fan of hers and she’s lent me some of her memoir books. I need to dig into these and read others. (Recommendations/suggestions in the Comments would be very welcome.
My wife speaks with admiration about the show that tracks Amy Schumer’s pregnancy, “Expecting Amy.” I haven’t seen it, but I’ve read about it. Apparently, she’s incredibly open and vulnerable this series. And people love her.
There are incredibly varied approaches, from Amy Schumer to the enigma that is Bob Dylan. Nick Cave has gone from aggro-closed-off addict to as open and vulnerable clean and sober person as it gets over his career. The Red Hands Files is remarkable. He answers letters from people all around the world, and much of it is deep, dealing with questions of life and death and grief and suicide and our purpose in life. Really wild stuff.
And so, I am finding my way in this new venture. What works for me? What is my best approach?
I’m going to keep checking in on the process as it relates to writing about alcoholism. And - I looked through some of my short film screenplays today. Right off the bat, I’d like to shoot ten of them or so. I’ll be looking into that, and working in screenplay format, soon.
I’m grateful for Medium, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to write and grow and to have my work read. By you.
Your thoughts/comments are more than welcome.