Thursday, February 09, 2006

"Postartum" Depression?

Words are returning in spades!

I've been trying to figure out why I've been so blue lately and realized something that might resonate with others:

I recently finished a screenplay that I had been working on for some time. I knew I had been working on it for at least two years (I started it when I was still living in New York) but a friend actually confirmed for me that I had sent him the first draft in September of 2002! So basically, It's been a project for about four years. In those four years, I abandoned it twice, hacked it pieces, pasted it back together, killed some of my characters and even brought a couple back to life. Needless to say, it’s been in my head for a long time!

Well, about a week ago, I actually typed "The End." Now my mind is reeling! Now what? Now what do I do with this? So I've finished the daunting task of writing 106 pages of story, now I'm faced with the even more daunting task of actually making the film (or worse yet, now people might actually read it, judge it, and the whole thing might not ever become a film)! Plus, there is a bit of…sadness. Now I have to move on and just let the screenplay part of it be what it is. This is much easier said than done.

Since that day, I’ve been moody, prone to crying for no particular reason, tired, argumentative, etc. Most interestingly, I had a very bizarre dream a couple of nights ago: I just had a baby. I kept finding the baby in precarious situations- climbing on scaffolding, swimming underwater, even jumping out of airplanes! I wasn’t sure I wanted anyone else to know that I'd had the baby and was extremely reluctant to nurse it.

All of this suddenly made sense to me- I was suffering from a kind of mild artistic postpartum depression (without all of the chemical changes that go on during childbirth, I admit- though it has been suggested to me several times that the "chemical" thing is there in me as well. My hellish experiences with prescription drug experimentation are fodder for another post!)

I’ve read about this happening with many artists- there’s a sort of mania involved in working on a large project and then a sort of depression when you send your creation out, defenseless in the world, to be scrutinized by curators, festival organizers, etc. Might be one of the reasons why much of my work has never left my house and why many of the talented people I know are "closet" artists! I do know that this has happened to me more than once.

Needless to say, this realization has been a powerful tool for me. It has forced me to start on another project- to have a new focus while people are reading the script and the "what ifs" are floating around my head. I think we all just have to keep plugging away…

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