This statement is true and not hyperbolic: I used to dream in film cuts.
My dreams unfolded the way a film was edited, complete with montage, camera angles, and fades. This behavior was particularly apparent back in college when the USC cinema school continued to deny my application and I would half-jokingly tell people that my major was “pre-cinema.”
Filmmaking was my life, back when I didn’t even like novels, back when I would spend nearly every weekend working on someone’s movie. The fact that even my unconscious self was steeped in cinematic language felt completely normal.
However, recently I realized that I no longer dream this way.
And part of me mourns the change.
As I’ve further committed to fiction, I seem to have lost my cinematic sight. What was once so natural to me has been replaced by the regular, old narrative that must be the default setting for everyone else’s unconscious experience.
Don’t get me wrong: my dreams are as interesting and twisted as ever. Many stories are born there. They’ve just undergone a style change parallel to my career path.
I consider this erosion as another side effect of my eternal foe, specialization. The more I improve one skill, another falls into disuse. That’s the rational argument, anyway. The emotional side feels that I’m missing part of what made me whole, and I wonder if my screenwriting has suffered for it.
On the bright side, my fiction is stronger than ever. The pages I’m producing now are the best yet. I just know that the script I write after this novel may require some retraining. But there’s hope…
The night after I drafted this post…
I once again dreamt in film cuts.
My cinematic sight is not gone, the same way the remnants of a rusty skill can be refurbished to shine once again. I will use the economic necessity of specialization to my benefit, but as anyone else who is practiced in two disciplines, I must make the effort to stay at the top of both of my games.
For those of you like me, it may take longer than you’d like to reach your destination. Yet the end result is not why we toil. There is no end. We are on an ever-evolving journey that is all the more interesting because of our divergent interests, and our first arrivals will be even stronger than we’d hoped.