Who Do You Think You Are?
I like to think of myself as a serious writer. Not like I’m serious about writing but that I write serious stuff. My subject mater is profound. I think deep thoughts like Jack Handy, have political opinions like Bill Maher, ponder the depths of the human condition like Jonathon Kozol. And when I consider my writing career, I always imagined tomes of philosophical weight streaming from my keyboard. I thought I would be crating literary expeditions into my nightmares or rollercoaster rides of suspense, not comedic hijinks or I’d-have-gotten-away-with-it-if-it-wasn’t-for-you-meddling-kids nonsense.
But that’s not who I am. Not entirely.
Truth is, as serious a writer as I like to think I am, I’m also the guy who knows he’s going to hell for laughing at a handicapped hockey game. Go back, read it again. I’ll wait. Yes, I said handicapped floor hockey. Wheelchairs and people with that one heel a little thicker than the other. Funniest shit I’ve ever seen. Seeing people fall will leave me convulsing in laughter but watching a movie where the dog dies makes me cry. I’ve found outrage at the antics of the Cincinnati Police department, pride at my president shutting up his critics, grief when two of my friends lost their own close friends.
I’ve never intentionally written a funny thing in my life but you guys—you magnificent people who participate and share in this little journey of mine—you all are quick to let me know what works and what doesn’t. You loved DMFRH because you could relate (or you have one down the hall or on your job). Or Hello Kitty because that shit happens to all of us. Or Shit or Get Off the Pot because sometimes we all need a swift kick in the ass to get moving. You let me know what touches you.
The larger literary community likes to put us in buckets, in little bubbles of stories and authors. The entire apparatus segments us as authors and readers, separating us in the name of efficiency, marketing and profits. Horror has a section in every bookstore and library. African-American literature earns half a shelf off to the side, or a table in the front during February. You have to wade through the Self-Help section and listening to all those titles tell you how much you suck before getting to the kids section. We are taught to think in categories and silos, in metatags and keywords.
You all have taught me that the human condition is all-encompassing, not broken apart. It is a cohesive, consummate process, one that envelopes fear and joy and pride and failure. We are not silos and categories and metadata. We are individuals who find horrible things humorous, who get embarrassed by medical terms to describe our body parts, who sometimes don’t fit inside our own skins.
For me, it’s about being the writer I am, being the man I am. Being the person I am. Embracing the components of my psyche and personality—including accepting that the wholly inappropriate is funny to me—and folding that into my words. You all have forced me to redefine who I thought I was as a writer.
Thank you for that.