My Bailiwick Rebuttal to Self – Scraping the Sides of the Bowl

Sometimes, when you’re making cake (or cupcakes, or icing, or vindaloo, or a PB&J with the crusts cut off), it can appear as though the bowl is empty when it really isn’t. When you think you’ve run out of sauce (or peanut butter, or cake batter, or icing, or cheese), sometimes it’s good to scrape the sides of the bowl and re-evaluate the situation.

Yesterday (or the day before? I can no longer remember), I wrote a blog post about my year of silent no-writing. What I failed to take into consideration is all the STUFF that happened in that year that was ACTUALLY writing related. I’m NOT writing right now. I often of late feel as though I will never write again. But to say I wrote nothing in the past year is a downright lie.

In March (which was only two short months ago), I actually wrote a short play and had it performed in front of LIVE audiences. Those were words, goddammit. I wrote words. Not a lot of people experience the pleasure of seeing their words come to life on the stage. In July (which was STILL IN THE PARAMETERS OF THAT YEAR IN QUESTION), I wrote approximately 1/2 a novel during the 2014 Muskoka Novel Marathon. A half a novel. In one weekend. I also worked on a couple of other works in progress (WIPS) throughout the year.

I wrote articles for the WCDR Wordweaver. Two? Three? I don’t know. I forget about these things as soon as they happen. But I remember having one or two or three published. WITHIN THE PAST YEAR. I wrote the odd poem.

And there are writing relating things that don’t actually involve actual writing. I was interviewed by Charlene Jones for her radio show OFF THE TOP. I thought that was PRETTY cool. (-: It instilled in me, if only for a fleeting moment, that, ‘Hey, I must be a writer. I’m being interviewed about writing. It only stands to reason.’ So what if I felt like a charlatan because I wasn’t actually putting words on paper at the time. So what if I felt like I had no sage wisdom to offer because I wasn’t deep in the thick of plot bunnies. If Charlene Jones says I’m a writer, I’m a writer!

Also, I’ve been approved to be a workshop facilitator for the upcoming December WCDR Roundtable Meeting’s After-Breakfast Mini-Workshop. THE 10-MINUTE PLAY’S THE THING. Der. Like I wouldn’t glom on to an opportunity to discuss my beloved 10-minute play medium. Such a delightful experience, I feel I must share it. By far NOT EASY TO PULL OFF. It is truly an art-form to get it just right. I get to share what I’ve learned through having 9 plays produced since my first in 2009! I’m thrilled for the opportunity. AND—this is me BEING a writer, no? When we hone something that we love for year after year, there comes a point where the passion outgrows the space in your heart for it…where you MUST share it with others to steal more space. So, there’s that.

My rebuttal? My note to self today? Get over yourself. Shut up. Why do you constantly make things difficult for yourself? Why do you never give credit where credit it due? So you’re not finishing those mocking manuscripts in a timely manner. So what. Shut up. Move on and drop the whiny ‘tude. What have I told you about this Ferris wheel?! It only goes around once. Wait. No. That’s not right. I’ve been on actual Ferris wheels. They go around several times. Wrong analogy. What have I told you about this LIFE?! You get one chance to get it right. Well, not right…no life is right per se. You get one chance to live it. Don’t beat yourself up every time you fail to tap your fingers on a keyboard. You’ve been busy. You’ve been living the life and riding the Ferris wheel. Literally. You’ll write again. It’s your bailiwick (one’s sphere of operations or particular area of interest). It interests you, therefore it is neither a burden nor an obligation. It’s fun. So…in summation. SHUT UP.

Sometimes, you have to scrape the bowl to realize you’re a writer. It’s that simple. When the spatula stops collecting the ingredients, you could probably even scrape a little bit more with your finger. Get right in there. NEVER GIVE UP. Especially if it’s cake!

That is all.

While I have your attention, there’s a GOODREADS GIVEAWAY winding down for a print copy of BURN BABY BURN BABY. Click the pic below to be taken to Goodreads to enter. The contest closes in two days, so you better hurry!

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My Wheelhouse, My Bailiwick…

In which I ask the question,
In which I ask the question, “Is a bailiwick forever?” Writing by the dock of the bay…

Imagine going through a life without finding your passion. Or worse, imagine finding it and then turning your back on it. Some people just coast through life without finding their ultimate bailiwick…what they were intended to be doing while surfing this mortal coil. Others, they find their wheelhouse…they live there for a number of years and then ennui sets in and one day they wake up and think, ‘why bother?’

I’m at the why bother stage at the moment. And it conjures up a great despondency to be there. But first, I have to admit to myself that I actually have a wheelhouse/bailiwick. In order to do so, in and of itself, brings forth a great discomfiture. To say that my wheelhouse/bailiwick is writing is to possibly imply that I think I’m good at it.

I never once thought I was good at it. I thought I skated through it like a wrecking ball in a glass menagerie. I always thought, ‘I don’t care if I’m the worst writer on the face of the universe…I like doing it and you’re not going to tell me I can’t do it. So there. Shut it.’ So, no…I don’t use wheelhouse/bailiwick in the way that suggests I excel at this thing called writing. I use the terms to suggest that writing is the garden in which I find myself the most comfort. When I sit in writing, I am myself. Which of itself is quite frightening…because aren’t writers of fiction basically liars, chameleons, charlatans? We tell stories. We fantasize. We live anywhere but here.

bail·i·wick ˈbāləˌwik/ noun

noun: bailiwick; noun: one’s bailiwick; plural noun: one’s bailiwicks; plural noun: bailiwicks

1. one’s sphere of operations or particular area of interest.
“you never give the presentations—that’s my bailiwick”
2. Law – the district or jurisdiction of a bailie or bailiff.
wheel·house ˈ(h)wēlˌhous/ noun
noun: wheelhouse; plural noun: wheelhouses

1. a part of a boat or ship serving as a shelter for the person at the wheel.

2. Baseball – the part of a batter’s strike zone most likely to produce a home run.

My bailiwick is my field of interest? I can live with that. It’s not threatening, boisterous, lofty. It’s just, “I’m doing this thing that interests me. Whatever.” My wheelhouse, however, sounds like I’m suggesting that writing is something I’m good at. When I am in the wheelhouse of writing, I’m knocking it out of the park? Um…no. I’m just not. I’ve never been in the strike zone. If anything, I could possibly maybe be a base-hitter. Is that a thing? That guy who can sometimes maybe just hit the ball enough to drag his ass to the first base and hope that somebody else brings him home? So, yeah. Maybe I can take the wheelhouse thing off the table. One less thing to worry about.

But that bailiwick thing…it’s not really an evasively egocentric term. I can deal.

The thing is…for almost a year now, I really can’t shake the notion that it hasn’t really interested me a whole lot. Do I put it aside? Do I dare laugh at the gods who said, “Find comfort in this thing. Do it and you shall feel the vast empty pit of nothingness before you heal over like a scab on a wound and you shall be free. Do it now and be free.”

Maybe I only needed a bailiwick until I felt free. Maybe I’m free. Maybe I wrote myself to freedom and now I can put the words down and walk away a free man.

Maybe those six or seven un-finished manuscripts laughing madly at me every day can be taken to the back forty and buried under the hopeful art canvases of my youth. Oh god. Art, no matter how much I wanted it to be, was NOT my wheelhouse.

These days I’ve been picturing my life without writing in it. Not hard to do when I’m not actually writing anyway. But it’s always there as an option still. The old a writer is always writing even when they’re not writing thing is actually a thing. It’s real. But what if I release the title and stop the writing when I’m not writing treadmill once and for all?

Would the gods really care? Maybe you can laugh in the face of your interests. Surely it’s not the same as laughing in the face of your gifts. Another interest will come along. Right?

I’m so madly frustrated. There is a great gnashing of teeth and stamping of feet. When the sun is setting on a day you want never to end there is nothing to do but watch as the sky turns to pink and the scent of the evening flowers mist the air around you. You watch as the sun melts into the horizon and you think, ‘Time waits for no man. Ah…there it was. The perfect day. Lost forever.’

But then…as I watch the sun setting on this bailiwick of mine, I think too of the words of one of my broken heroes. Dylan Thomas.

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.