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.

By Kevin Craig

Author, Poet, Playwright. Author of The Camino Club, Billions of Beautiful Hearts, and Book of Dreams, all from Duet Books, the LGBTQ Young Adult imprint of Chicago Review Press. Other books: Pride Must Be A Place, Half Dead & Fully Broken, Burn Baby Burn Baby, The Reasons, Sebastian's Poet, and Summer on Fire.


  1. You’re in a funk. This too shall pass. If it seems like a long spell then there is something bigger you must do to get your passion back. Identify the “bigger.”

  2. Ah Kevin, don’t worry. Your passion is merely mocking you, honing that ironic edge, gnawing the stuff of creative honeycombs, working the hidden chambers of the brain until they buzz again. When output is extensive for awhile, our creative selves duck and hide, craving input, growth: self defence until the well fills up.

    You will write again. And we will all rejoice. Because writers claim their own. The world, the characters may be new, but they will hold their sway.

  3. And, just in case you think you can ignore this on FB, I’ll post it here too. hehehe.

    Ok, here’s my armchair Freud/Jung/whatever.
    Let’s say you have oatmeal every morning when you wake up. Oatmeal is good, it gives you energy to face the challenges of the day ahead. And the thing is, you actually like oatmeal.
    But then one morning you get up and are meh to the idea of oatmeal. It feels like too much work and you think you could probably make it to lunch without it. And you most likely do.
    Then the next day, it is easier to bypass the morning ritual of oatmeal. You still like oatmeal but are just not inspired to make.
    Along comes some babbling idiot (me), laughing at nothing, making oatmeal entirely the wrong way but somehow making everyone believe he is doing it the right way. He is throwing stuff that should never be in oatmeal into the oatmeal.
    Off handed he lookes into your bowl of oatmeal and spills some baked apples, or berry compote, or some cinnamon or even peanut butter.
    You look at it with your nose wrinkled. Can’t he tell you just don’t feel like oatmeal. Reluctantly you taste it just to make him go away. “I will not like it Sam I am”. It’s still oatmeal but it’s different. You may not like it but it’s different and new. And suddenly you can’t wait for tomorrow’s breakfast so you can throw in some apple sauce, or cumple some bacon in. You know there will be combinations you don’t like but you look forward to not liking them.
    The funny thing it, it’s still oatmeal but it’s new.

  4. You are on a break, little brother! Only a small break. For now, enjoy life to the fullest, by doing something fun and exciting, something you may eventually write about. Personally, I think you just need a long weekend away with some special people, to celebrate being a writer. In a mere 51 sleeps, we will be together… and together, we will whisper, giggle, chat, laugh, hug, possibly shed a tear or two and maybe, we will write something awesome? In fact, I know you will. You are my inspiration and you have never let me down yet. See you soon. Hugs.

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: