Anxiety Pancakes: Life in the Middle of a Novel (Day Twelve)


I said I was going to write about Barry Michels and the Shadow, as Jung calls the part of ourselves we hide from the world. Michels is a neo-Jungian therapist who advises Hollywood screen writers to get in touch with their Shadow because it helps them be more creative. When the Shadow is involved, your writing has creative flow, according to Michels. He’s more practical than theoretical, and he offers a number of psychological methods he calls “the tools” that are designed to help anyone, not just writers, get in touch with their creativity.

I’ve tried our a few of Michels methods, like imagining my Shadow is sitting in the room with me when I’m talking to a publisher about a book. His advice helped me to stay focused and confident. Michels has another technique to calm performance fears. It’s called “Dust,” and you literally imagine everyone in your audience covered in two inches of dust. Still another of his techniques, “Cosmic Rage,” consists of silently shouting “Fuck you, fuck you!” to anyone who intimidates you.

A lot of what Michels is saying is really about training your unconscious to be on your side. For instance, before I go to bed, I sometimes ask my unconscious to solve a problem I’m having in my narrative. I know it sounds wonky but the answer often arrives with the daylight.

Anyway, this morning, I thought of Michels when I woke up. I had been dreaming of my character, Dale Paul, who runs a dead pool on aging or frail celebrities. In the dream, I felt submerged in his life and his problems and there was a doleful sense of the world ending. Just before I wrote this blog I realized the dream was telling me Dale Paul’s story is almost finished. That’s right. I’m no longer in the middle of a novel. I am getting closer to the end.

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