Tunnel Vision – Blessing or Curse

I’ve given myself a deadline for completing my next script: December 30, 2016.  I can see myself beginning to avoid social interactions and sending phone calls to voicemail.  It has been a long time since I have embraced tunnel vision and I am little afraid.

I was surprised last week when a friend stated in passing, “You’re a very disciplined person.”  She was enroute to a different point and said it as if it was universally understood by all who knew me.  My husband thought it was humorous that this was a surprise to me.  In my mind I have a list of friends who train for marathons, pass on dessert after eating only one slice of pizza and tomorrow will rise at 5 AM and leave for work at 6 AM to drive an hour through traffic to be there on time.  They are disciplined.  I just get obsessed.

My Driveway Circa 2014

First, I must have a period of time with no sick kid, no broken garbage disposal, no dying dog, no sewer leak in my living room, no auto accident, no disease carrying rodents in my back yard and no gem falling out of my wedding band . . . plus a stretch of the calendar containing consistent visits to the gym.

Next, I examine goals from my carousel of pending projects.  Landscaping the front yard?  Not enough cash flow.  Panting the back porch?  Tired of home improvement.    Cleaning out my husband’s closet?  Why bother.  He doesn’t care and it will look the same in a few weeks.  Find my growing five year old a new wardrobe?  I just did that last month.  She can get away with those shorts a few more weeks.  Work on my next screenplay?  Hmmm.  I really want to.  I really, really want to.

Third, I ask myself, “Is it feasible?”  Is this something I can really take on at this time?  Can I finish it?  This is the most important step of the process.    Once I pass this step I cannot stop until the goal is accomplished or I have died trying.  Emotional funerals have taken up so much of my time.  Many times I have selected “Write My Next Screenplay,” grown fearful that I would not be able to complete it, and to avoid the emotional funeral, I returned it to the project queue.

This time I said yes.

I am now entering “Tunnel Vision.”  I have accepted obsession with the goal.  When I select the project I will complete I cannot rest until it is done.  Even when I have determined I need a break, I Google incessantly for an answer.  Or conduct yet another search on Amazon because if I discern the right key word I will magically discover the perfect product that is the right size, color and price.

When I am writing a script I become Charles Schulz-ish—always thinking about my story, my characters, my next scene.  When my husband was in graduate school I wrote my first full-length script.  I would work a day job, eat supper and sit down at the computer for an hour.  I had to sit there for at least an hour.  Sometimes it would turn into three.  On the weekends I would write for several hours each day.  After three months I was ¾ finished but completely dried up.  I would do the time at the screen but no words would flow.  I had a scene-by-scene outline but I could not squeeze out a syllable.  I peeped my head out of Tunnel Vision to realize I had no social interactions with any of my girlfriends for 90 days.   I declared a week off and hung out with one friend each night.  After that, I forced myself to take a night off each week to hang.  I had to keep the verbiage flowing.

Pine Tree Arch, Arches National Park

Pine Tree Arch, Arches National Park

And that is what I am afraid of.  Not that the text will allude me but that I will disconnect from my life.  Tunnel vision is the solution to immense projects when you have no house, no dog, no child, no business and no bi-weekly blog to write.  I want to live in my story and get it down but I am fearful my friends will feel I only want them around to prevent the writers disease which must-not-be-named.  I dread the idea that I will be even more impatient with my daughter.  I wonder if my husband will still want to date me if every dinner is a brainstorming session for my current plot point.

My fears may be crazy or they may be real, but there is a way to keep them from coming to pass.


And so I have forced myself to put away my scene-by-scene outline to write this blog entry –a day or so late is better than never.  Before I return to the land of my meticulously crafted 4th grader characters, I will eat dinner with my family.

Maybe they can help me with the scene about the family dinner.


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