“The way I look at the reality of Parkinson’s is sometimes it’s frustrating, sometimes it’s funny. I need to look at it that way. Beyond that, we all get our bag of hammers. We all get our Parkinson’s. We all get our own thing.”
Michael J. Fox
After a long absence, Michael is returning to television in his own NBC sitcom. And far from downplaying his Parkinson’s, the show will spotlight it because his character, a former TV reporter, suffers from the illness just as Michael does. But the show promises to be smart, funny, and willing to laugh at itself, just as Michael is. He’s always been candid in interviews about his illness and hopefully his show will be the same. But what’s most refreshing about this gifted actor is that he simply takes what’s happened to him in stride and gets on with living a full, happy life.
And he’s right! As he said so well, “We all get our bag of hammers” — we all have our own problems, challenges, and frustrations to deal with. They may be different for each of us, but none of us have an empty bag. Pondering this, I started thinking about the “hammers” we may find ourselves confronting as writers. Here are some I came up with:
We question the value of what we do: It’s easy, especially when things aren’t going to well, to wonder whether what we’re dong really matters, whether writing is really all that important. Sometimes we can even give up for a time.
We endlessly revise and never finish: This is a tough one, because revising is so important. But we have to let our work go at some point, release it and make every effort to get it out into the world. Yet so often, we chase perfection like a dog chasing its tail.
We don’t think we’re good enough: We question our experience and our skill and our ability to put on the page exactly what we’re trying to say. We might feel that we should have more education, more training, more of everything. We may envy other writers who seem to succeed while we’re still struggling.
We don’t feel we have enough time: With so many daily demands and distractions fighting for our attention: jobs, families, financial issues — you name it, we can feel too fragmented to give our work the time we know it needs and deserves.
We don’t feel we have enough contacts: When we’re ready to get our work out into the world, we can feel that we don’t know the right people or have the right opportunities. We feel held back and hampered.
Yes, we all have our “bag of hammers” on the writing front: I’ve got my bag and you’ve got yours. But whatever’s inside ours, let’s take a tip from seasoned pro Michael Fox and just hoist the bag on our shoulders and get on with what we’re here to do: Let’s write on!