It was like a movie …

Marianne Wiggins in “The Shadow Catcher” plopped a nugget of wisdom smack into my mind and some things settled there with a big, wet kerplunk, like an acorn hitting lake water.

The main protagonist, a writer, is reacting to a comment made by a producer about her book, “It was like a movie can only ever mean that you’re a camera.  It can only ever mean that while you’re looking at what’s happening in front of you, you’ve also managed to step back from the experience, you’ve willed yourself into the position of spectator, you’ve willed yourself to be detached in the observance of performance.”

Thanks to Wiggins I understand in concrete terms a personal challenge with my debut manuscript: staying connected to what’s happening, not allowing myself to slip into that safe place, being a camera.  I don’t want to step back from what’s happening to the character(s) that come into my head nearly fully formed, or the storyline the main protagonist natters away at in my mind, nor the dialogue that often plays out in my dreams.

So, yes, I am praying, Please don’t let me be a camera.

Perhaps this is the tendancy of novice writers? I dunno. What I do know is I suffer from camera syndrome.  Is it because as a morbidly shy kid I watched and listened, usually a spectator and rarely a participant?  Or could it be that photography, my first and most enduring creative passion means I look at everything through the lens of detachment?  Or, is it because when I dream it’s one of two camera-like modes: black and white stills, polaroids that hang in front of my inner eyes or technicolour film clips that play over and over until my brain calls it a wrap?

I am NOT a camera!

The first step in overcoming this challenge is self-awareness, acknowledging that it exists, then mining the depths of it for understanding and finally taking steps toward change.  The ultimate in facing down any challenge is discovering it’s merits.  Turning it around, flipping it over and examining it from a new perspective.

I haven’t exactly ‘willed’ myself into the position of spectator but my brain likes to take me there no questions asked – camera mode! There must be a tipping point in the balance between engagement and observance (showing and telling)?  Perhaps my brain is ‘showing’ me the story through the eye of creative experience and the subconscious realm of dreams.

And just maybe I need to step out of my writing comfort zone up to the experience more and be ever vigilant about my tendency to slip into the role of detached observer.