In part three of my posts on the risk of art, I want to talk about revealing things about myself in my work. For me, this is an uneasy balance. On one hand, there are things about my journey that have helped and informed my work. On the other, I hate the idea of coming across as a narcissist who believes his life experiences are so important. There are enough of those, already.
I just started working on a screenplay about a man who has Guillain Barre Syndrome. In case you're wondering, GBS is an illness so rare that it was mentioned on the show "House." Unfortunately, I had it as a teenager. Joseph Heller (author of "Catch 22") had it later in life and wrote (with his friend Speed Vogel) about it in the book "No Laughing Matter." Although a wonderful book, this isn't what I wanted to do. Instead, I wanted to explore my experience, but within a fictional framework. First of all, because of the reasons above. But also for a purely practical reason: it's hard to get a movie with a fourteen year old protagonist made. So I'm writing a script about a fictional character and GBS is the catalyst in his story. For me, this is a perfect balance. I get to share my experience, strength and hope, but also get to hide a little. Because, ultimately, it's not about me. It's about the work. And it's about the audience.