Thursday, 12 January 2017

Truth without Triggers

A film is slated to be part of M&J’s portfolio in which the lead character struggles with disordered eating. I want to be truthful and honest in our lead’s portrayal but there’s a challenge to it. There is a reason I can intimately write about disordered eating and that means I have to be careful not to be triggered by it.

As writers we acknowledge our shadow side, delving into discomfort and exploring the broken places. We must be careful not to lose ourselves in this process.

Disordered eating is an important subject to discuss in our culture but with discernment. However well intentioned, we can in some cases feed into the obsession and promote it inadvertently.

How then, do we navigate subject matter that demands our attention but threatens our wellbeing?

I posit it is all in the pacing.

While researching a different project, I once watched four hours straight of a BBC documentary on WW2 concentration camps. I realized afterward that I ought to have spread out the four hours over a week as opposed to an afternoon. In this way I would have given my brain, and heart, some respite from the stifling inhumanity.

The pace at which we choose to tackle material can be to our benefit or detriment. Choosing not to overload ourselves, we can set deadlines factoring in the need for breaks, thus ensuring light filters through the dark.

To me, an image that best represents the initial stages of writing is inspired by the animated film, ‘The Rescuers.’  A little girl, Penny is lowered into a cave to look for a diamond but if she isn’t careful to get back out before the tide swells, she’ll drown. With subject matter such as disordered eating, I see myself like Penny. I lower myself down into the dark in search of a diamond but I am careful to come back up before I am swept away.

Truthfully this M&J film may never be realized. I am holding space for that. For now though, I will continue to delve into the depths in cautious intervals, returning to the surface as needed.

- J

*J, Your soul is beyond beautiful. I feel so lucky to have such an incredible partner to explore those dark places with.  - M

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Maira Gall