I love the movie BOWFINGER. It came out in 1999 and stars Steve Martin, Eddie Murphy and a host of other really hilarious people. The plot is that Martin is a down-and-out movie director. He’s desperate. So he concocts a plan to put one of the world’s biggest action stars, KIt Ramsey (played by Eddie Murphy)into his movie–without said action star’s knowledge. So he embarks on a plan to do some guerilla filmaking for his masterpiece, a movie he calls, “Chubby Rain.”
In a bizarre twist, Bowfinger finds Kit’s brother, Jiff (also played by Eddie Murphy), and recruits him to join the cast. Jiff’s life goal is to be an errand boy, a dream that Bowfinger exploits with glee. Here’s one of the best scenes from the movie. It also perfectly illustrates what it sometimes feels like to share your writing with the world.
I love this movie with a passion that requires me to unfriend anyone who does not love it also. It’s smart, hilarious and has some really interesting messages about the desire to create and how the machine warps people.
It also contains one of my life mottos: “K-I-T–Keep It Together.”
Kit Ramsey repeats this mantra in increasingly neurotic intensity as the movie progresses. See, he keeps seeing weird things, like aliens and dogs in high heels and strange women with knives following him around. “Keep It Together” is his reminder not to lose it when life gets weird.
I’ve been repeating this mantra myself a lot lately. Lots of awesome stuff is happening. Some I’ve talked about here, some I can’t talk about yet, some I won’t. But mostly life is pretty awesome. And it’s terrifying. There’s a lot of fear that arrives when your dreams start coming true. We dont’ talk about it a lot because we don’t want to appear ungrateful, but it exists nonetheless. At its root is the realization that even though we want to control things, we don’t. Success is fleeting and fickle. Scary.
Earlier today I tweeted the following:
Writers are control freaks in an industry where almost nothing is in our control. This is why we drink.
We don’t control anything but the words we put on the page, and even that sometimes feels out of our control. Sometimes we respond to this by soothing our ragged egos with drink or nicotine or worse. And sometimes we respond by trying to hold on tighter–to force control. This is where we really get into trouble. This is why we see so many “authors behaving badly” posts online. This is why we hear stories about authors freaking out or acting the fool. We convince ourselves we can control everything if we try hard enough or are clever enough or shout loud enough.
When these moments come–and they will come–you must always remember to K-I-T. Keep It Together for a writer means never venting your spleen online. It means never acknowledging trolls or validating reviewers whose goal is to gain site hits by being controversial. It means having friends and family you can go to when you’re frustrated and feeling extra sabotage-y.
Keep it Together means gaining perspective, or if you can not get perspective, to stay the hell away from the internet, including and especially email. It means accepting that you are neurotic and imaginative and maybe some of your fears are self-created and perpetuated. It means finding coping mechanisms that help you maintain your equilibrium–meditation, long walks, kick boxing, clown punching, whatever.
Keep it together, friends.