1) What is the purpose of the psychological pieces written under the heading The Thief’s Mentality?
One of the best men I ever met was (and is) a decent man that is kind to others, unusually conscientious, compassionate, empathetic, and anything and everything one would use as a barometer to gauge whether a man is good. He is also a congenital liar. Throughout our long friendship, this man told lies, to others, about vacations we took, weekends we spent together, and various other things I would be forced to fact check him on. He would tell these lies right in front of me. He knew that I was a lifelong Catholic that had nuns in school shame all forms of deception out of me. Did he fail to measure how my taught near-inbred sense of guilt, and shame, would factor into his story? In the beginning, I corrected him in a manner that suggested that he was “misremembering” the facts, and that was what I assumed to be the case. I did have some doubt burning within me, but I did not let that show. As the weeks, months, and years passed, and our friendship grew, my friend “misremembered” so many more details of the nights and weekends we spent together that it became an obsession of mine to get to the nut of why he was saying such things. Was he such a habitual liar that I needed to defriend him, or was there something more going on? I discovered that my friend was, indeed, a good man with a need, or a penchant, for fabrication.
As I studied this man, and I didn’t study him in the manner a research scientist will, but the characteristics I uncovered began to snowball in, I began to realize that there was something more going on than that which the surface revealed. I realized that my good friend, that by all measures was (and is) a good man, was delusional.
2) Who are these Narrative-driven Non-Fiction essays for?
The essays, in question, were written as a method of widening the scope of the The Thief’s Mentality entry, so going forward I will refer to all of these stories as The Thief’s Mentality. The Thief’s Mentality was founded on a principle of framing an issue readers might have with someone that is, in a variety of ways, deceptive. How many of us have problems, with other people, that we cannot frame properly? The Thief’s Mentality is written for us. I write the word us, because as anyone that has ever attempted to write knows, the process of writing involves discovery. I discovered what I considered a truth in the process of writing, reading what I wrote, and editing. The Thief’s Mentality is written for those that cannot poke though the unusual, and sometimes casual, bubble of delusion their good friends build for them. If the reader is anything like me, and their confusion is genuine regarding the otherwise good people around them, they need some kind of framework to help them understand those people. For me, it was all about having that title and building from there.
I have found that the The Thief’s Mentality tool has helped me understand everyone from the good people that fabricate on occasion, to the delusional people that sit somewhere in the middle, and the true piece of work (a POS) that lies for personal gain through outright and unabashed deception. Why any of these individuals lie, in their own individual ways, will always be a mystery, but if we could find a frame their actions under an umbrella, we might find a way to deal with them better.
We have tried to understand them, but we’ve always done so in a conventional manner. The unconventional conventions discussed in The Thief’s Mentality are what I believe to be its strongest selling point.
In another entry, entitled, Most People Don’t Give a Crap about You, I detail for the reader a mindset they may want to use to combat the worst of the worst, a true POS. It’s not a comprehensive measure for combatting those that attempt to lie, cheat, and steal from us, but it’s a mindset that I use in my every day.
3) Do you ever get to why you think these people feel the need to lie?
I do. I suggest that it’s all about attention. Some people want to garner as much attention as possible, some want to manipulate the attention they receive, and others want to deflect attention.
I received a compliment for the use of a Mohawk haircut, as a form of subtext in a piece called He Used to Have a Mohawk. In this piece, said the critique, I used the Mohawk as another character in the story.
Conventional thinking has it that a man that decides to wear such an unusual haircut should be ready for some unwanted attention. Unconventional thinking suggests that there’s nothing wrong with a person that decides to shave their head in such a manner, and it’s on the observer to accept the Mohawk wearer for who he or she is as a person, and the observer might discover all the limits of their preconceived notions, or conventional thoughts, of a person by finding out that a person with a thin strip on their head is actually a beautiful person inside. The approach I took with this piece combined the two modes of thought and examined them through the prism of an individual that used to have a Mohawk.
A part of this person, I pose, delighted in the reactions he received from both parties. A part of this Mohawk wearer had to have enjoyed the idea that he shocked some of the people some of the times, and another part enjoyed those people that tried to understand him better to discover the beautiful person inside. No matter where the reader stands on the prism, they must acknowledge that the Mohawk wearer generates more attention than a person with a more sensible haircut. Some would say that a Mohawk wearer generates unwanted attention on themselves by wearing such a haircut, but others could say that no attention is unwanted for some. If a Mohawk wearer detested those that judged him for such a haircut, he or she could allow the hair to lay flat.
They don’t, I pose, because they enjoy detesting those straight-laced people that will never try to understand them as a person, they enjoyed the bond they have with those that sympathize with their plight, and they bathed in the sheer number of reactions they receive in one day with one simple haircut.
My guess, watching this man MC the various events of his wedding, was that this man did not have such characteristics.He He was not very funny, he wasn’t the type that one would say was overly entertaining. He seemed like a shy, normal man that was as uncomfortable in his own skin as the rest of us are. I wondered, watching him bomb on stage, if our reactions would’ve been different if he said all that he said, and did all that he did, with a high blue Mohawk, and I wondered if he wondered the same? Say what you want about a person that wears a Mohawk, that is blue, but he generates expectations. When it’s discovered that he’s a nice man, that makes him stand out in everyone’s memory, and isn’t that the way he wants it?
I think some delusional people lie in the same manner, and I write that as a former liar that used to attempt to manipulate the attention I received from others. I used to try to tell them that I was a better boy than I actually was, and I bathed in the temporary juices swimming around in their head, but when they caught me, I discovered another facet to lying that I didn’t like. I wasn’t very good at lying, and people felt sorry for me for feeling a need to lie.
4) How did you decide to lay out your website?
There are three separate sections of the Rilaly.com website. The first is devoted to the various posts made. These posts fall under a number of categories including, psychological, political, and reviews of albums and books. The focus of the second section is devoted to fiction, both short stories and excerpts from novels. The third section contains profiles of the people I have encountered in life that I was not able to work into a fictional story. These people are weird, strange, and different in all the ways that people with different ideas on life can be termed weird, strange, and different. They involve people from my youth, women that I dated, and co-workers that I engaged with often enough to have a thorough understanding of what made them tick.
I have attempted to rate the profiles, in the third section, from top to bottom, with the Ellis Reddick story being rated as the best of the bunch, but I must confess that rating these stories proved difficult. It’s difficult because these profiles are so different and personal. I don’t think Platypus People is one of the worst, for example, and I don’t think the dating experiences are any better, but as a man that preoccupies himself with rating one story over another, I did feel the need to list them in the manner I want them read. Feel free, if you have the desire, to flip me a reply that suggests the stories that you think have earned the top of the category.
5) In The Thief’s Mentality stories, the psychological aspect of these stories could be confused with you giving advice. Was that your modus operandi?
I can see how a reader might be confused into thinking I’m offering advice, or hoping to compile these stories into some self-help guide. If these non-fiction narrative essays offer anyone any points to consider, they might be found in the counterpoints the reader makes. I would not say that the people defined by the snapshots they provided me left them miserable, but they were people that walked around with something eating at them. They tried to find resolutions, but what they found would often end up being a ‘go back to the beginning square’ of life.
The takeaway one may have from those paragraphs is that I know exactly where I’m going and how to get there. To that notion, I add the quote from Marcel Proust, via Brain Pickings.
“Our intelligence, however lucid, cannot perceive the elements that compose it and remain unsuspected.”
As a person that has such a healthy ego that I feel that I might have something to add to the conversation, I will say that my definition of how to live has been strengthened by the various definitions others have provided me on how not to live. Plus, the various definitions of how to live are not near as entertaining as the various definitions others have taught me through their decisions.
Some of the people that offered me these definitions are weird, some of them are strange and different, and some are so quiet that they’re a little creepy. It’s quite possible that the something that eats them up inside is so simple that it may never see the light of day, but in others it’s so pressurized that it may end up splashing all over those that are living better, happier lives. This incident, I’m predicted, will not a dramatic, headline grabbing episode, but I do think a result will occur when these types find out that their way of life will not bear fruit.
6) In the dating entries that you add in The Weird and the Strange collection, you have some stories that some readers might consider misogynistic. How would you answer such charges?
I have not researched the data on this subject, but experience, and common sense, has informed me that there are just as many freaks, oddballs, and weirdos in the male gender as there are in the female gender. I’m quite sure that actual statistical samples would bear this out, but I have never had any interest in dating men, so the focus placed on women in dating section of this collection remains exclusive to the freaks, oddballs, and weird people, of the female gender, that I have dated. Of the twenty-four profiles in The Weird and the Strange collection, fourteen are male, six female, and four that could be said to be more general. So, any fair-minded reader will find that I reserve more negative assessments for my own gender, both in quantity and quality, but I do acknowledge than when it comes to brutal assessments of females the reaction will be more sensitive.
7) In this dating section of The Weird and the Strange collection, you detail people that are off the trail. Would you like to take a moment to explain that?
The idea that a prospective partner has lost their way on the trail of life, comes to every person sooner or later. There’s nothing wrong with stepping off the trail, of course, as any hiker will attest to the fact that some of their most memorable experiences have occurred when they’ve ventured off the trail. As one adventurer once told me, getting lost can add to a sense of adventure. This is true, of course, but in the course of getting lost on a proverbial trail, i.e. the one created by rational, sane individuals, some adventurers become convinced that their trail is the one that everyone should be following.
After some time spent on this new trail, an observer can acclimate to just about anything they hear from those on the other side of the table at an Applebee’s. Some people want to venture down this trail, for all the reasons listed above, and they can convince themselves that this person is just as normal as every person they’ve ever met. Does she have some idiosyncrasies? Who doesn’t? As usual with any tale that of this sort, illumination is often brought by the audience of the story of that date.
My audience to such stories have often found it hard to believe what I was detailing for them, the following Monday, as I recounted my weekend’s date.
Those that know me have often had “Come on!” looks on their faces. For reasons endemic to a creative storyteller, repetition is often required before an audience will believe the story enough that comments follow. Knowing my general penchant for embellishing, the listener often decides to believe half of what they hear. They may laugh throughout the discussion, but they will return home to inform their significant other that the storyteller is one hell of a storyteller. Consistent retelling of the story, coupled with consistent, sharp details, either leads the listener to believe that the storyteller is more gifted than they originally believed possible, or that the person, in question, has had some unusual dating experiences. It’s at that point that they begin to offer a fresh perspective on the date in question, and they provide confirmation to the storyteller that the subject of their stories is a little off the trail.
8) You’re analysis of this subject might lead some to believe it is a current malaise that haunts you.
I can see that, but it’s the exact opposite. Now that I’ve been taken off the market by a woman that hit every one of my bullet points –the most important being that she was normal– hindsight has provided me a fresh perspective on those that weren’t. The “Why am I attracted to nothing but freaks?” bitterness I had for so many years, regarding the parties concerned, is now gone, and I am now able to reflect back on those women I dated as characters for what others might consider a couple of interesting tales.
I was going to say that I wouldn’t do anything different, but that’s not true. I wish I would’ve dated some of the women I didn’t, because those women reminded me of one that I had, and I wish I would not have dated others, for the various reasons detailed in these stories. My overwhelming concern that there might be something so freakish inside me that prevented me from dating normal women bottled up when I now see as some entertaining material. Now that it’s all over, and I never plan to date again, if fate determines that my current love lives beyond me, I can look back at these moments and learn and laugh right along with the reader.
9) Before we close this chapter on the unusual dating experiences you’ve had, would you like to add anything that leads some to believe that you did fabricate some of the details?
I would treat it as a compliment that someone would consider me that creative. Two of the stories therein, are so wild that I think the reader can see the reality in it. If they can’t, and they choose to view it as creative non-fiction, with a heavy emphasis on the word creative, all I can tell the reader is that I spent years wishing the details weren’t as true as they are. These stories were painful to me for a time.
I also want it noted that the reader will encounter some bold statements I make regarding a woman’s attraction to me. They will also read of some details regarding the various faults of the women I’ve dated in a frame that could be misconstrued as my superiority to these women. Before we venture down that road, I feel compelled to add the requisite qualifier:
By adding this qualifier, it should be noted that by doing so, I expect to enjoy a qualifier-free relationship with the reader throughout these tales. I expect the reader to know that I do not believe I am a figure of mythology, a Greek god, an Adonis, an Apollo, or whatever figure the reader uses as a barometer of male beauty. If the reader has had any experience with me, they might end up finding that my humility among men –that have had women attracted to them– to be quite refreshing. In some places, in the stories in this collection, I have qualified some of the statements I’ve made, and I considered doing it elsewhere, but if I were to qualify in the manner some demand to achieve a proper sense of humility, I would be qualifying every paragraph and sentence. Those that have read those writers –often unpublished bloggers that are unpublished for a reason– that feel the need to qualify every sentence, know what I’m talking about when I say that qualifiers can grow tedious. Reading through those blogs, I find myself screaming, in my inside voice, that we all need to reach some sort of understanding regarding bold statements and qualifiers, and this is it. If you are one of those that cringes at a writer that makes bold statements, consider this an acknowledgement of everything that you’re about to scream in your head regarding my inflated ego, my bold assessments of what women were thinking at the time, and that I know that my excess nutrients do stink when they come out. I do know that my path to living life right could, at the very least, be called unique, weird, or even strange and different, but I refuse to qualify every character assessment in this manner. Also know that anytime these complaints arise, the reader can return to this paragraph as often as they need to, to have bold statements qualified.
I have also added a disclaimer on each individual piece in regards to the name that was used for the character of each piece, as the names of the characters chosen for this pieces was done so in an arbitrary manner to avoid the uncomfortable experience that the subject may have felt if I chose their name. Any similarities to names, real or imagined, are coincidental. The stories in The Weird and the Strange are works of creative non-fiction. Consider this the disclaimer and qualifier page for future resource.
There are other pieces in The Weird and the Strange collection that focus on the people that you’ve worked with over time. How did those people attract such focus from you?
I had a manager that opened a team meeting with:
“If you want to be happy in the workplace, my advice would be to avoid telling people too much about yourself.”
This manager went on to detail how revealing too much makes you vulnerable to that other person’s opinion, and it allows the recipient of your vulnerable information to begin telling others vulnerable things about you.
My experience has informed me that this is valuable advice, as most of the disputes, fights, disagreements, and harsh feelings one employee has directed at another has resulted from people not following this advice. My experience has also informed me that, for most people, it’s impossible for them to follow this sage piece of advice. Most people enjoy talking about themselves, their day, their philosophy, and the worst and best things that have happened to them in life so much that they cannot bear not telling them to co-workers, people that sit next to them, and the people they encounter on smoke break. When a person is confined to a relationship with another person, for forty hours a week, these things spill out, whether the person wants them to or not.
This same manager mentioned the fact that when a person is sitting next to another person in an office, as we were, they can grow closer to that person than anyone else in their life at that moment in time.
“Even family,” this manager said. “You may find yourself telling the person next to you, things you wouldn’t tell members of your own family. My advice, for what it’s worth, is don’t.”
When a person sits, or stands, next to another for forty hours a week, for months on end, they become your other family.
I’ve been around the others, of course, those people that follow my former manager’s sage advice, and what the reader holds in their hand might be the reason why. I love to figure out what makes other people tick. The process of discovery involved in trying to figure out why a person would try to convince me that her child was conceived in a manner other than the traditional, led me to want to be around her more often. It was such an outlandish theory that while in the discovery phase, I hung on her every word. She appeared to be claiming that hers was the second birth by divine intervention, even though she never made that claim explicitly. She simply had no cause to her effect.
Readers of these tales will probably respect the reasons why the exceptions to the rule, those that followed my manager’s advice, chose to remain protective of their privacy. I enjoy hearing another’s tale almost as much as I enjoy retelling it. I have a big mouth, in other words. Protecting one’s privacy, however, does not create a very interesting atmosphere. Most of the jobs I’ve had in my life lack mental stimulation, and they are only made bearable by the people that surround. Thus, when I quit one job, a friend said I would still be at it if the powers that be sat me next to someone interesting. I must agree with that, on the basis that I wouldn’t have focused on how boring the job was had I been provided a suitable distraction.
My joy in life has been in discovering the various perspectives on humanity, and though some have come from my family, most have been on the outer reaches of my life that opened a window in their soul to reveal some peculiar thoughts about life they had. The detailed ruminations on life I’ve heard from close friends and family, are conspicuously absent from my discoveries, because they’re too familiar. I know what makes these people tick, in other words, and their explanations have been so thorough that there’s little room left for analysis on my part. They’ve often provided it.
“You don’t know how to eat,” my dad would say when I would inform him that the concoctions he would develop were gross. This has led me to wonder if the subjects in The Weird and the Strange think the same things when we make faces at their philosophy, and their epistemology. They think they have a way to the light, and the truth, of good living, and our confusion regarding their methodology leaves them just as just as confused with a “You don’t know how to live” imprinted in their minds. Their ways may seem incomprehensible to the rest of us, but they have been fashioned and molded to believe that their trail is the one that leads to happiness, protects them from harm, and it allows them to get through life in a manner that leaves some of us so confused that we talk about it, and write about it, to elicit some sort of comments from others to see if we might be the ones that don’t know how to live.
10) When people complete your stories, what do you hope that they achieve by the end of that reading?
I guess the first thing I would say is that I can only control what I can control. I don’t know what the reaction will be, and I don’t think I would’ve written half of what I did, if I worried that someone would be offended, others would consider me too silly, too serious, or some confusing hybrid in between. The only thing I can you is that by writing these pieces, I helped myself work through the confusion I experienced regarding the humanity that encircled me throughout life. I was irritated by these people, in the same manner I imagine an oyster develops a pearl as a result of an internal irritant.
Pearls aren’t always formed in oysters. Some scientists have suggested that pearls are formed in one in ten thousand oysters. The internal process involved is similar, but different, to the process that the oyster uses to create an outer shell that protects it outside harm. The oyster pinpoints the origin of the internal irritant and secretes a substance that scientists call nacre, a calcium carbonate substance around the irritant to prevent it from affecting other, internal parts of the oyster as a whole. The process begins, in other words, as a defense mechanism, until layer upon layer of the calcium carbonate is developed by the oyster to shield the interior of oyster from the harmful intruder, and a pearl is produced.
For a person that wants to live a full, reflective life, the unknown irritant may take the form of a simple question that the subject internalizes to a point that it becomes harmful, or it may be a life-altering dilemma that has prevented them from producing a well-lived, reflective life.
The three pearls of wisdom that I have found among the ten thousand quotes that could be used to stave off irritating bits of confusion come from Leonardo da Vinci and Anton Chekov. The quote from Leonardo da Vinci is more of a paraphrase, but it states that “The answers to that which plagues a man can be found in the questions he asks himself.” The second is a direct quote from Anton Chekov: “It is the role of the storyteller to ask questions not to answer them.” Until, we arrive at the final quote, that I suggest may be the foundation of philosophy, the Ancient Greek maxim know thyself.
I did adhere to the Chekov principle for the most part. At times, it ran against another principle I find more endemic to storytelling: To be interesting. I also believe that each character cried out for perspective. Other people don’t know these people that are near and dear to my heart, and whether or not the attempt to provide perspective provided an answer, perspective was necessary for full characterization. In a manner equivalent to a therapist’s question to a patient, I provided some questions regarding my subject’s mindset, and I provided some answers from an outsider’s perspective projecting an answer. I am not a therapist in any way, shape, or form, but I am capable of providing an outsider’s perspective with some knowledge of the characters involved. I am a person that asks questions, and some of the time an answer leads to more questions, which feeds into the Da Vinci principle of asking questions, until a truth can be arrived at internally.
The idea that one essay, one book, one story, or one pearl of wisdom can cure all that ails a person is almost as foolish as the idea that there is one universal answer to all that plagues man. There are answers, however, and they can be found in the questions we ask ourselves after concluding a reading, or listening to another person’s tale. Why did the people I know act the way they did? If I knew, it wouldn’t be such a point of fascination that I ended up writing about it. I do have an idea, but we all have ideas. My ideas were based on watching them, experiencing people similar to them, and using a collage of that information to try and understand them. Are my answers right, or is it more important that I put forth an answer that causes you to question my answers?
It would be just as foolish for one writer, no matter how great, to suggest that one story from their life can pinpoint the irritants of another’s life to produce a pearl a wisdom, as it would be for any reader to enter into such a discussion with the belief that all that ails them can be resolved. We all have something to teach one another, however and if we fail to transfer those lessons learned, they wither and die on the vein.
There are some stories in this collection that focus on illusions and delusions. To my surprise, some psychologists state that some illusions and delusions can provide a layer of protection against the external stimuli that could serve to damage subject’s mental health, and that they may produce a pearl, but it’s my contention that illusions and delusions perpetuate with effectiveness in a manner that tends to snowball, until they begin to overwhelm the subject, and they end up on a psychiatrist’s couch trying to figure out where they went off the trail in the bright, shiny forest composed of delusional vegetation.
Some of the stories in the three categories on this site, may seem inconsequential at first, but it is my belief that the unusual characters contained within have something to offer. As stated previously, only one in ten thousand wild oysters yield a pearl, and of those few pearls that are produced, a smaller percentage will achieve the size, and color that are of a jeweler’s quality. Yet there is something to be gained by those seeking answers from another’s life story for personal enrichment. The stories in this collection may not provide what a reader may find to be an earth shattering realization, but it is my contention that most philosophers provide nothing more than a layer that could, combined with the other layers gained through personal experience, and other readings, produce more nacre, or calcium carbonate, for another to produce either an excellent layer of self-defense, or their own pearls of wisdom.
11) Finally, what is the meaning of Rilaly?
I have received crinkled faces from family and friends regarding this name that I chose for my writing over twenty years ago. I told them that Riley plus reality equaled my version of reality. The difference between Rilaly and Rilality is, of course the -ality tail. The -ality tail was deleted out of a fear that someone, somewhere would develop some sort of hashtag that linked the title of this site with some form of innuendo. I’m not hip to all of the terms hashtaggers use, so I employ a better safe than sorry policy in regards to the title of this site. The unintended consequence to this deletion was the use of an –ly word to describe my method of operation, and adverbs are deemed a no-no in writing quarters. I’ve since unearthed a new etymology for the name Rilaly that institutes immorality, Riley plus immortality, minus the -ality tail, equals Rilaly. It can be either. It can be both. Like Led Zeppelin refusing to talk to the media in regards to the idea that they sold their souls to the devil to land a recording contract, or Pink Floyd refusing to comment in regards to the idea that they timed Dark Side of the Moon to segments of The Wizard of Oz, I will make no further, official comments to the media regarding the etymology of this name.
Does this new incarnation imply that I expect to live forever? Yes, but it also has something to do with the fact that my father died I was two years and two months old, and very few people, even in his inner circle, remembered enough about the man to tell me anything substantial about him when I wanted to know. The summation I received, of the man’s thirty-four year life was “He was a funny man that was fun to be around.” They would then add that I remind them a lot of him.
‘Thanks,’ I want to say. ‘But you know nothing about me, so how can you declare that we were similar in a way other than superficial?’ I’ve since learned to shut people down when they begin their introduction to my father in such a manner. I’ve learned that these otherwise pleasant people have nothing to offer in this regard.
My takeaway: People will forget that we were ever here. We can live an adventurous life, encounter various people from all walks of life, and we can have a sparkling personality that leaves others spellbound, and they will forget about us. Even those, like Hemingway, that lived a life no one will forget, and documented his goings on for some to read 1,000 years from now, could become a dusty corner in a library. People move on over time.
I also learned, and this may be an unfair assessment given how long it took me to be interested in my dad, that most people are not observant, or reflective. If they had as many memories with my father as they claim, I was too young to enjoy those memories when they occurred in the immediate aftermath of that man’s death, and most of those stories and remembrances were gone by the time I grew interested.
I did learn, from his sister, some information about my father’s adolescence. I did learn from fellow Cornhusker fans, that my father was a die-hard fan. I also learned that, at any given time, the man had two to three jobs, and that he was something of a workaholic. That’s it. There was some personal information I gleaned from those that knew him, but suffice it to say that the totality of what I know of the man can be reduced to one small paragraph. These nuggets of information were illustrative of the fact that the people we know, and the information we have on these people is in conjunction with what we love. If my father loved a Philly with Cheese, for example, I have to imagine that that would be the one thing a fellow Philly with Cheese lover would remember. Very few people are interested in the essence of those around them. Not to the degree, anyway, that I was with the man that happened to be my father.
If I were on the other end of this paradigm, and I had extensive experience with the man, I would have had one story that I thought captured the essence of the man. I don’t know if these people were drunk most of the time they were around him (he was a part-time bartender to supplement his income), or if he was far less interesting, and far less memorable than they would permit his only-begotten son to know, but they failed to remember much about the man, except that he was kind, funny, fun to be around, and that I remind them of him.
Those that know me, might do the same to my only begotten son, and if I didn’t provide a resource my entire existence may be reduced to the idea that I was a funny guy that was fun to be around, a political junkie, and a sports fan. I have no problem with these characterizations, of course, but I want to be known for more.
If I achieve nothing more, in the course of exploring my mind for the benefit of stories, blogs, and character profiles, I think I have achieved an essence that will live long after my mortal vestige is being eaten by worms. Riley plus immortality equals Rilaly, minus the -ality..
One aspect of my essence that I’ve uncovered of late is an exaggerated fascination with originality and nuance. I write exaggerated with the idea that those offer me nothing new are met with indifference bordering on the cruel. They do not know this, of course, as I present them with warm smiles, lifted eyebrows, and laughter, but I’m bored by these people, no matter how many happy faces I put on. They may have variations on the theme of the previous person I’ve met before, as everyone’s core personality is achieved on different roads, but they all too often end up at the same destination.
Most people try to be unusual. They strive for nuance. Originality is why they’re here. One of the greatest insults you can deliver to your fellow man is to inform them that you’ve met them somewhere before in another incarnation, and that they’re no snowflake. They may have certain ideas, and they may have had a slew of experiences different from them, but they end up being a type of person that we’ve met many times before.
I seek an original approach to story writing. My influences may run so deep that not even I see them for what they are, but I strive for originality.
For as long as I can remember –perhaps twenty years at this point– the advent of an original idea has provided me a joie de vivre, which when translated from French to English means “a cheerful enjoyment of life; an exultation of spirit.” I feel alive when an unusual idea invades my mind, and I feel like I’m wasting my time in life when I go through periods of time when no shockingly beautiful and strange ideas come to me. Attempting to be fresh, original, and nuanced can be the equivalent of walking on a tightrope over a volatile fault line (i.e. that which I can control versus what I cannot) when one’s mood is dictated by such.
Even when one is seeking inspiration for common stories that have mass appeal, inspiration can be difficult to find. When one is seeking an unusual, personalized twist, however, it can be more difficult. When a person reaches such a point, they read a ton of books and web pages, searching for inspiration. I listen to radio, webcasts, and TV analysts searching for a soundbite that will launch me into something different. I am bored by those that cover well-trod upon ground. I attempt to find gaps in another’s philosophical outlook that applies to me. I never know where inspiration will strike, of course, but once it hits, I chew on it for a couple days, and I formulate an idea. I explore it in references, I spelunk through my mind for additions to the topic, I mesh five to six ideas together in a manner equivalent to a fictional scientist, named Victor Frankenstein, from Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s novel Frankenstein, and I feel juiced alive in a manner equivalent to the fictional scientist’s monster after receiving some lightning. I feel alive, inspired, and a joie de vivre for the time span it takes to complete an idea I then pour so much time and energy into perfecting the words that I’ve written that the spontaneity of the piece is drained long before publication. It may suck the love of creation out, but I’d rather get it right than have glaring errors.
One could say that having one’s moods dependent on inspiration must provide a mercurial existence, and it does, but I used to be mired in absolute misery. No idea land would result in a dystopian-style funk that could cause some minor forms of depression, until I discovered balance in life. I have my writing life now, and a familial balance. As a result of this family, I may never reach dystopian depression again. On the idea of inspiration making a person happy, and its absence making them miserable, I ask the reader to imagine if they would sign up for a life in which they felt totally rejuvenated in life by an idea? If, as I write, that you could feel jolted alive by an idea? It’s like living the life of Frankenstein’s monster.