A while ago, a fellow I have known for a while approached me saying that he really enjoyed reading one of my novels, The Midnight Shrink. He told me that he thought it would make a great TV series and asked me whether I would be interested in allowing him to take the book around to some people he knew in the television industry. A tv series? I thought. Now wouldn’t that be great to begin a new career as a writer and have a book become a tv show? So I replied as nonchalantly as I could, “Sure. Knock yourself out.” We signed what I was told is a shopping agreement giving him permission to take my work around to his contacts.
That was well-over a year ago.
I received monthly (sometime more often) updates on his progress. Each time there was a bit of good news, e.g., a producer saying “good story” or “let me think about it,” I could feel an uptick in my heart rate. I quickly reigned myself in. I knew that in the movie/television industry, the likelihood of getting a book or script being made into a series or film was as small as winning a lottery, especially for an unknown writer.
So here’s the problem. When is it appropriate for me to get excited? Perhaps more specifically, when is it appropriate for me to share my excitement with others? It is one thing for me to get excited internally, in the privacy of my own mind, but it is quite another to share my excitement with others.
This got me thinking about how often I hear people say they feel uncomfortable sharing their excitement with others about an event that MIGHT happen and then feel uncomfortable or even embarrassed when the event falls through. They tell me that they don’t want to get too excited about some event because they don’t want to feel the disappointment should the event not actually occur. They tend to contain and restrain their excitement in order to avoid the disappointment. It is similar to people who fear falling in love because they don’t want to experience the pain of love lost. So they mute both ends and never experience the full range of human emotion. By muting both ends they live in a very narrow bandwidth of emotion.
I experienced similar feelings regarding my book being considered for a television series. When I share any of the encouraging updates regarding progress toward getting my book in front of a producer, I always make sure that I do so in a matter of fact way so as not to show my excitement. I repeatedly remind others that the odds are low as a reminder to both of us to not expect much.
Most of the time I am the type of person who simply enjoys the journey with little investment in the outcome or destination. Even when a vacation turns out to be a bust, I can always enjoy the process of getting there. In most situations I can share both my excitement in the process and my disappointment in the outcome if the outcome turns out less than I had hoped. But there’s something different about this.
I can easily share the fun I am having learning about fiction writing and screen writing. With my other books I was able share everything about the process, even my disappointment when a publisher rejected my manuscripts. Similar to an actor who doesn’t get a part or whose movie flops at the box office, there’s a momentary disappointment, but it isn’t crushing – unless, of course, one’s ego is on the line with getting the part or being a box office success.
So I asked myself why am I having difficulty sharing the excitement of having a producer that might be ready to pitch my novel to the networks? Sure the producer could change his mind, so what? What’s the worst that can happen? What if I tell people that I am all jazzed because a producer has expressed interest and then sometime later the deal goes south? People might ask, “so hows the deal with the producer going?” “Fell through,” I say. They say, “Too bad. You knew it was a long shot.”
Why should I feel awkward? I think my embarrassment stems from my not wanting to admit how much I would like to see my book become a series. Perhaps I don’t want to admit that I am similar to so many others who would like a touch of fame. Obviously, I concluded – much to my discomfort – maybe a piece of my ego is on the line.
I think maybe I have more invested in wanting – and perhaps even expecting – this to happen than I have been willing to acknowledge. I know it’s a long shot like winning the lottery, but I think I REALLY want this to happen. As we move closer to making a deal I can feel the excitement build. If the whole thing collapse, I will survive the disappointment. But right now, at this moment, I am excited as hell!
So much for nonchelance.