For the record, writer’s block is no fun. I’ve struggled with it many times, especially while wrangling a two-year-old, wondering if my true calling was folding laundry or making organic porridge.
But although I’ve complained about writer’s block to all who would listen, I’ve never sought help from someone who draws stick figures and "YOU ARE MARKED TO BATTLE THE FORCES OF JUDGMENT" on an index card.
That’s because I don’t work for California’s entertainment industry, and I’m not a character in a Carl Hiaasen novel.
Reading Dana Goodyear’s hilarious “Hollywood Shadows” in this week’s New Yorker, I realized there’s a reason why shrinks in movies and on TV bear no resemblance to the real thing.
I can say with 99-percent certainty that this technique wouldn’t mobilize me: Being told to imagine myself “falling backward into the sun, saying ‘I am willing to lose everything’ as you are consumed in a giant fireball, after which, transformed into a sunbeam, you profess ‘I am infinite.’”
Barry Michels and Phil Stutz, the therapists who employ such visualizations, may be putting on Goodyear—but I think not. If any place is the Realm of the Emperor with No Clothes, it’s Hollywood. As Goodyear tells it in her straight-faced, anthropologist-amid-the-aliens story, an array of industry emperors pass through these offices—screenwriters, agents, directors, producers—the many who make a career out of conjuring something from nothing.