It looks likely that the steady writing gig that I thought was emerging has probably fallen through, at least as the steady money-maker I'd hoped it would be. But, this is an interesting moment, because losing more than half of the income I'd thought I'd have over the next couple of years is forcing me to take more seriously the theater and film work I'm doing. No. It's not making me more determined to 'make money' at theater and film--that simply isn't possible, the way my world is currently constructed--but rather, it's making me look more closely at the INTRINSIC value of doing film and theater for virtually no money. This is convoluted. Bear with me.
By working a lucrative day job as a writer while pursuing art I would be trying to have my cake and eat it too, to get the benefit of higher social status--e.g., the professional women I've been dating prefer guys with money, no two ways around it--while also burnishing my self-image as an artist. This would make me look like an imporant and imposing man. A guy in whom people take interest. A rich artist--ooo, how sexy and successful! But, without the day job, I'm JAFA, a guy in whom others see a cliche, without money. JAFA. "Just Another Fucking Artist."
It so happens that I do have enough money, without the day job, to live comfortably but not extravegantly as an artist, as long as I keep my needs simple and do not have to support anyone other than myself. But, to live this way without being in conflict with myself, I need to stop holding onto the kind of social status that my family background and education lead me to expect of myself. Until now, I haven't been able to do so; perhaps the time has come when I can. After a couple of years of working in Portland theater, I've begun to know--and be accepted by (I hope!)--other working artists who have already traded off their social status in favor of doing art. These are intelligent and talented people whom I respect and like. Increasingly, they're a big part of my social world as well as colleagues. They're becoming my role models. In them I see another kind of status.
The immediate pay-off for letting go of trying to have it all--be rich and do art--is that I'll have more energy for art! I can stop being distracted both by efforts to earn more money to support a more 'normative' lifestyle--which is somewhat beyond my means, at present--and trying to appeal to those who expect it, e.g., some of the women I date. I can stop hedging my bets. I can start refocusing my energy, putting it into what is in front of me, now. I can make more of what I'm doing not because it will make me money or raise my status or get me girls, but because the work in itself is spiritually fruitful.
This moment may be the start of the end of my dilletantism.
Talking about money remains one of the last taboos. We all keep secrets around it. One of the big purposes of this blog is to keep myself free of secrets that might block me as an actor. Secrets grow into hard little radioactive lumps in the psyche and imagination that we learn to avoid; e.g., if I'm afraid of the homosexual desires that I feel, I will restrict my ability to feel emotional intimacy with men on stage, even if there is NO sexual content in the scene; if I don't want to be perceived as JAFA, I'll not allow myself to fail on stage, and so never take the risks that will lead me to succeed.
A young actor told me last week that "acting is lying," by which I felt angered and hurt. To me, to act is to reveal myself, and myself is definitely a 'true' thing, not a lie. I immediately felt hesitant to take any risks around this actor, because I wanted to protect myself--protect my secret--from him. I feared his snickering at me, since he'd be seeing me as 'lying badly' rather than as stripping my soul bare. He made telling the truth taboo.
This is where you have to have a tough skin. This blog helps me keep it.