Would I Be Safe in the Wheelhouse If I Could Find It?


Wednesday, December 23, 2015. 06:21

Prepared to write morning pages; seated at the dining table in Sydney; black Moleskin journal and Space Pen at the ready; French press of coffee made and half drunk (the press, not me); I’d been sucked into social media for about fifteen minutes (a relatively short time compared to a million other times of having made the mistake of even opening one of those pages– Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, et. al.)– I receive “guidance” to not pick up the Moleskin this morning but rather the laptop and write here on the word processing program instead. I ignore the guidance and reach for the Moleskin. I like having ten years of “Morning Pages” and other scribbling in those tiny books. Then I “hear” myself say inside my head, “No, you said do it here” (meaning the laptop). And so I obey and open the laptop.


I consider briefly who that “you” is– the “you” I was talking to when I said, “‘you’ said do it here”– shouldn’t that be capitalized (if you know what I mean)? I trust the Guiding Force of my life even if I don’t understand it– even if I don’t reckon I’ll ever understand it. Nor do I necessarily need to.


I see myself, living here in Sydney in six months, with the dogs and the cat, (personal detail here omitted) — I see myself ready to go on any acting audition and in the meantime continuing my writing. I would have until yesterday said that writing might include myriad genres.


But yesterday, friend Bryce Lee Wynn, when I told him (yesterday, which is today in America) that I should write a book about how oppression during the developmental stages has an (underestimated) impact on our adult psyches (similar statements usually get a “yes! you should” from most anyone)– but not Bryce, yesterday– he said, “I’d rather see you as the playwright. I believe it is your wheelhouse. That’s a term (“wheelhouse”) with which I wasn’t familiar until he used it. The context betrayed it’s meaning of course but just now, when I looked it up, the dictionary tells me it is, “a part of a boat or ship providing shelter for the person at the wheel.” It’s used in baseball as a metaphor and to describe “the part of a batters strike zone most likely to produce a homerun” and in general the term is used to mean, “as situation where normally one is advantageously at ease.”


Somehow, when he used the term and especially now that, with some research, I understand it better– it gave me a measure of peace. I think that it mostly because of the notion that I might have a wheelhouse. I really want a place where I am “advantageously at ease.”


I think that I’m at least a decent writer. The blogs that I’ve published are rarely given more than a quick proofread before I hit “post,” much less any editing so don’t completely judge my writing ability by this blog.


I think that, given the right situation and opportunity, I could really make a go of things as a writer. I have personal goals, goals for a measure of security in life that have much more to do with my being allowed to continue pursuing whatever this thing is than with the actually financial part of it.


Money has never much interested me, at least not enough to make chasing it the central focus of my life. I think I have had the great misfortune of looking at the “bigger picture” with regard to how money is made and distributed in the global financial picture and the morality of the whole thing. I say “misfortune” because I think thinking about the “big picture” has kept me in poverty at times. If it saves my soul, it will have been worth it and the opposite of misfortunate. (“What doth it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul?”) Most people I know, at least people who had even any amount of money to invest in stocks, wish they had bought Apple stock very early on. I’m the type of person that thinks, “Is it really in keeping with my spiritual beliefs that it is okay that my $1000 I’d have invested–”


Okay, I just got sucked down the rabbit hole trying to read and understand the history of Apple stock prices on the Interwebs. (The world of the stock market is purposefully hard to understand). I think the best I can come up with is that if I had purchased $1000 worth of Apple stock when it came available in the 80s, it would now be worth $632,000. Again, playwright here, not a money guy so I might be way off. But the point is I think too much about the morality of the market. I’d still end up thinking, no matter how much I’d scrimped and saved to make that initial $1000, is it really okay with me that I now have $632,000 based on the knowledge that a lot of that product comes from workers who make substandard wages and suffer substandard working conditions in the opinion of most people who own and use Apple products. It is only allowed to continue by an “out of sight, out of mind” condition– people are too busy surfing Facebook on their iPhone to give a shit about the Chinese kid who made it or what her life looks like.


Now that I’ve said all this, please let me say what a hypocrite I am because I am siting here typing this on the third in a succession of MacBook computers I have owned and I’m probably on about my fourth iPhone. I also have an iPad thanks to Alan Steinman who bought it for me when I had nothing else to blog on. Another reason I’m a hypocrite: My financial wealth, such that it is, is held mostly in a mutual fund and I have no idea what companies my money is being invested in. Very likely, as is the case with most of those types of funds, my money is going to investments in companies that are destroying the planet and destroying the lives of living people and generations to come by their operations “ethics.” I go around regularly doing some coffee shop hand wringing about global warming– I wonder how much of my money goes to support companies that are dumping carbon into the atmosphere.


Anyway, with regard to money, the point is I think too much. There’s not an industry out there (to include the one– Arts and Entertainment– in which I long to find the afore mentioned financial security) that, after only a minute or so of thinking of the universal financial principle in back of it, I start feeling like “well I can’t be a part of that! That’s immoral!”


Harrison Ford, according to what I have heard, did not make a salary for his recent work in the new Star Wars movie; instead he’ll make a percentage of the profits from all the revenue the movie generates including merchandise (which will likely far exceed box office). Do you know how much money that’s going to be?! I’m sure that Harrison Ford is a perfectly lovely person. His work and his image have brought a considerable amount to the franchise– but do I believe that; considering all his work over the years and all he brings to the finished product that he is worth 10, 100, or even 1000 times more than what some other actors on the project will make? Do I think his effort is worth 100,000 times more than, say, a gaffer or a food service person, or a grip? Those people often work like slaves for what they make. See? I think too much. I’m as talented as Harrison Ford is. Why didn’t do what he did?


During my brief brush with “celebrity” and having had the opportunity to be the guy with the camera turned on him, I’ve known what it feels like to get special treatment. It is an understatement to say that it is addicting, especially after also knowing what it feels like to be the bullied little “faggot” all those years. I’m quite certain that if I ever got to be in a similar or better position and to get to be paid multiple times over what the people calling me “Mr. Key” were making, I’d have a rough time turning it down. Still, I wonder, when I consider my history of under-earning, if this underlying belief– dare I even call it a moral position– might have a role in why I have seemed to push money away so often in my life.


It can apply to any industry or endeavor. All I have to do is think about it. WalMart? Don’t get me started.


Consider the life of the average foot soldier in the military. I was a Lance Corporal when I went to war. I didn’t make a lot of money but it was one of the most financially secure times in my life. (One might say that anybody who joins the military for the money is an idiot but trust me, when I asked most of my fellow Marines why they joined, financial concerns preceded any talk of defending freedom, liberty, The Constitution, our citizens and/or way of life.) If you look at and compare the remunerations, working conditions, effort, and sacrifice (sometimes their life!) of a young man or woman serving in the military vis-à-vis those of the average executive level salary (I’m not even talking CEO here) at a company that has been awarding a defense contract with the U.S. Governent– be ye Democrat, Republican, or anything else, if it doesn’t turn your stomach, I fear for your soul– maybe even doubt its existence.


Have I gotten off track? Maybe. Maybe not. I’m just here to trust the process. And I’ve chosen to share that publicly more often than is comfortable for most people around me ever since I figured out how liberating it can be.

I started out talking about what I’d like life to look like in six months and given my recent journey through a yearlong process of exploration and self-improvement, I can definitely see the value of looking to the future and goal setting while living squarely in the present.


So, yeah, I’d like to move to Sydney. That doesn’t mean I’d live here forever. But I’d like to come here to see what life offers at least for a year or two. The thing that’s keeping me from simply doing it right this minute is that my pets (a hugely important part of my life) have to go through a six-months process to immigrate! It would be easier for me to move here with a human baby than with an animal. (Just ask Johnny Depp what the repercussions are if you don’t follow the rules. And he has a hell of a lot more cache than I do!)


I’ll go back to Alabama after Sundance Film Festival and in six months time I’d like to be living in Sydney, working on a house that I would buy here, doing improvements in preparation for putting it back on the market and hopefully making a profit. Being paid for my sweat, labor, time, and talent in improving a property is something that feels completely clean to me with regard to the afore mentioned morality as it relates to making a living. While doing this, I’d like to audition for acting roles. I miss acting. I’ve enjoyed most every role I’ve ever done and sometimes it’s been the happiest moments of any job I’ve ever done. I’d also continue writing– perhaps steering this blog in a particular direction and marketing it so that it might generate some income as well. Mostly, with the writing, I’d like to continue to write scripts (since Bryce thinks this is my “wheelhouse”) and to find a way to get them out there for production. My wont currently is to write scripts (or more accurately get them nearly finished) and let them sit in dark files on my computer, gathering dust, and avoiding the horrible possibility of rejection. Fear of rejection rules my artistic career. I’m horrified to admit that publically. But it’s true. As I said before, oppression and persecution during the developmental stages of our lives has a devastating and underestimated effect on our adult psyches. That’s the treatise of the book Bryce had rather me not write in lieu of another play.


Maybe that’s where I start next, to work on getting these three or four unproduced scripts out there into the hands of literary agents, producers, or others. That “work” would be mostly spiritual and psychological– to push past the fear or find someone who can step in and help.


Here’s me at my most egocentric: I have long felt that if someone who had the real resouces to exploit my writing would step in and take over getting me published and produced, someone who could set up my life for me to be an actual professional writer, it would be tantamount to buying Apple at $29 a share in the 80s. It’s the fear of rejection (an absolute certainty in the world of art) that keeps me from opening all those “how to get paid for your writing” emails that Steven Pressfield is kind enough to keep sending me even though I never open them.


In fact, my second play (the one closest to being finished finished) is about PTSD and the creative process. The connection between the two is the fear I’m speaking about. Only some will understand this: the possibility of putting one’s artistic work out there in hopes of making a living with it but all-the-while risking the (sadly) inevitable rejection that comes with this– feels pretty much like someone might be aiming at your head from a nearby rooftop. To risk rejection, to the sensitive artist, can fell like risking one’s life.


So enough of this for now. I have a phone meeting in four minutes with Mary, my co-counselor I met a veterans and allies conference. She’s been there for me for years now since my return from Iraq. Then I reckon I’ll give this writing a quick once-over and post it as a blog, which was not what my original intention. when I sat down at this table this morning. I was just doing what the Voice said to.


It is nice to be in touch with you again. The feeling of connectedness to my blog readers is a powerful contradiction to the fear– even though the blog has sometimes drawn the most vicious attempts to hurt me as well. How’s that for irony? I think that probably was a good thing although I ultimately ended up disabling comments on the blog so I wouldn’t have to receive those hate-filled emails anymore. The sender(s), connected to my ex, relied on the anonymity of fake email addresses rather than commenting openly on the Facebook link or any other means that would cast light into their dark hiding place. Fuck ’em. Many of the other voices in my head (the “non-capital ‘V’ voices”) eviscerate more-than-sufficiently-enough without the help of anyone who hates what I write or hates me personally anyway.


Now to post this and face the frightening prospect of working on a script.

I hope your holidays are splendid and that we meet again before they’re over.



About this entry