The Monster in the Closet

So, I wrote a book. It took two years of dreaming and procrastinating and writing and re-writing (in that order), but I did it. I have 60,000 words that are dedicated to telling a single story — possibly even a meaningful story. And it feels good, I’m not going to lie. It’s feels Really. Fucking. Good.

But beneath that sense of accomplishment (and we’re talking, like, less than a millimeter beneath) there is another feeling; one that is far more profound. I’ll give you a hint: it’s a four-letter “F-word” that you’ll never hear spoken aloud in mixed company under any circumstances. That’s right: fear.

I am scared shitless.

The question is “why?” What is it that I’m so afraid of?

The impulse, of course, is to be as melodramatic as possible and answer, “everything!” But herein lies the problem.

We all get scared. It’s human nature. But it’s also human nature to paint our fears with a brush so broad that we never bring into focus what we’re actually scared of. And rather than drill down any deeper to figure it out, we let our fears go unexamined, allowing them to morph and mutate until there’s a monster living in the closet.

closetmonster2

Now, unless you’re a small child¹, you know that monsters are always man-made, whether it’s Victor Frankenstein’s science project or that fear-mongering orange troll running for president right now. But the “monster in the closet” is unique (and often times even more insidious) because it’s of our own making. We not only build the closet with our bare hands, we willingly lease out the space to its terrifying tenant.

Which brings us back to our original question: what’s actually in there? Obviously, I can’t answer that question for you, but my guess is, if you’re anything like me, you’ve been too scared to open up the door and find out. Even now – at the very moment I’m typing this – there’s a (large) part of me that wants to take the easy way out, quote FDR’s whole bit about fearing fear, and call it a day. But not only would that be a huge cop-out, it’d also make for a really shitty blog post. After all, the whole reason I decided to launch this site in the first place was to have an outlet to share my story – insecurities and all.

FDR quote

So, enough fucking tap dancing: why am I scared?

Well, it starts with this: this book I’ve written is the most personal story I’ve ever put to paper/PDF. Sure, the plot’s almost entirely fiction, but the emotional story? It’s mine. And any attempt to suggest otherwise would just be me trying to protect myself from feeling even more vulnerable than I already do.

Up to this point, everything I’ve written (professionally) has been comedic. And while (I’d like to think that) those screenplays and TV pilots contained their share of truth and emotional resonance, at the end of the day, they were written to make people laugh. For better or worse.

This book marks the first time that I’ve ever written something where the primary goal is to connect with the reader emotionally. Sure, it has its fair share of humor woven in. But if you don’t cry (or at least tear up) at the end, I haven’t done my job.

In other words, there’s nowhere for me to hide. I’ve abandoned the sarcasm and the silliness that I’ve used as armor for the entirety of my career life. And when you strip away that protective layer, all that’s left is me – the real me. The sensitive little boy who spent most of his childhood alone, creating imaginary worlds and sporting events to keep himself company.

And there it is: what’s really in the closet. It’s not a monster. It’s a little boy cowering in the corner, because he just spent two years of his life creating this intricate imaginary world, and he’s terrified that no one will want to come and play with him.

He’s scared shitless — just like I am. But you know what? At least we’re in this together.

-MPM

¹Shout-out to my readers under 10!

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