In Which I Answer a Stupid Question. Sort of.

I got a pair of related compliments the other day, both persons being impressed at the bat-shit-crazy inventiveness in Fantasmagoria. (Thank you.)

The statements were notable for NOT being followed by, “but why do you have to write about…?” (or in its stronger form as a statement, “I don’t see why you have to write about…”), which I am getting more frequently.

This is a stupid question. It’s also a little insulting.

Asking why I have to write about a giant vat of semen, or a bag of severed penises, or why I have so much pointless violence, only makes sense on the assumption that there was some alternative that I shot for and missed.

You wouldn’t ask, “Jeez Rick, why do you have to modify your nouns with adjectives?” Or, “Why do you have to use so many definite articles?”

It’s a subtle attempt to capture the warrant of the argument by assuming right off the bat that penises and pointless violence are bad. If I thought that, then I’d be pretty fucking stupid for writing a book full of them, huh?

I am not Picasso. I am not the Picasso of writing. I am not the understudy-to-the-student-artist-who-lived-next-door-to-Picasso of writing. But imagine how ignorant you would sound if you walked up to the man and asked, “why do you have to paint your people so grotesquely deformed?”

“Uhhhh… I didn’t have to, so that probably means I wanted to?” (Actually, by most accounts, Pablo didn’t suffer fools well, and he probably would have bitch-slapped you for that question. Yes, I said bitch-slapped.)

Plenty of people aren’t going to like my stories. I am not suggesting they should. I am suggesting they should not assume I tried to write to their expectations and shanked it.

I am always going to do a bad job of writing to your expectations. Always. Rather, I am trying with each work to do a better job of writing like that asshole Rick Wayne.

But more to the point, the question is actually kind of insulting because it assumes that I was too stupid to appreciate what I was doing, that I crashed into a school bus full O’children and emerged smiling, that I strayed from the path of Mirkwood, and you, the nosy neighbor, the busybody, are doing me a favor by pointing that out.

“Hey Bob. I just wanted to let you know, what you’re doing to your house there, I don’t like it.”

If you see a competent adult, crayon in hand, coloring like a masturbating chimpanzee, you wouldn’t assume they just didn’t know to stay inside the lines. You wouldn’t wag your finger down at them like you would to a child.

“Now Mr. Jackson, let’s be sure to color inside the lines.”

“Fuck you, bitch! It’s my fucking coloring book. Mind you’re own fucking business. Tellin’ me to color inside the lines. Say that again and I’ma shove this black crayon so far up your tight white ass that…”

You get the idea. I’m not a child. If I’m coloring outside the lines, it’s probably because that’s what I intended to do, and even if you suspected I didn’t know any better, it’s still better to apply the principle of charity. And if you can’t say anything nice, then between the two of us, you might not be the mature one. Just sayin’.

If you don’t like my shit, don’t fucking read it. (I’ll get over it… one day.)


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