To sit here, as writer, as comedian, as journalist, as funhouse mirror or crystal orb, I throw myself into my work.
All or nothing.
I sacrifice my privacy for the sake of the small chance I will ever consider what I reread here in the future will appear to be, to me, as art.
As I hear in my thoughts throughout the years,
…to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
[The words I chose to read aloud during my Eagle Scout ceremony at age in 1976 at age 14]
I stay true to myself — observer first, journalist second, writer third, comedian/funhouse mirror last — losing and gaining friendships based on how well my wife, family and friends accept what I write with them as stand-ins for characters playing out roles in the scifi tales I tell myself in my thoughts that may or may not parallel our/their lives.
Being slightly autistic and clueless/unaware of the reality of life, only able, in my youngest years, to quickly learn how to map out my surroundings in attempts to comprehend what others are saying to/about me, I live an internal life of great wonder, forever the child fascinated by the rain, by nature, by the technology it takes to put these words on a flat object a few feet from my face without a direct connection between my hands and the electronic paper where these words appear, one set of pixels at a time.
I read Donald Barthelme’s work, including a bio about him, when I was a young adult, remembering how he and others like him (e.g., Eugene O’Neill) noticed when the characters they wrote about interfered with their personal relationships because of very close similarities between friends and fiction.
I understand the difficulties they face because of the advice oft repeated, “Write what you know.”
If I cannot be true to myself, Rick the Writer, then who am I?
Is my writing worth the pain I feel after stories and books are published, read by the very people whose delightfully detailed and inspiring lives helped fill the pages they hold in their hands, asking me (and then me asking myself in doubt) why I chose a particular angle or storyline with them clearly described in what may or may not be a flattering view?
My father knew I would face such a dilemma. His advice was to dive wholeheartedly into my writing should I be willing to die alone, or give up writing and concentrate my analytical skills on business management, reaping monetary rewards and friends alike.
Dad, I chose both because I have only one life to figure out which path was the better in real life and realtime.
I seek forgiveness from those whom I may have modeled too closely for comfort, a way to show how much I am willing to give of myself for love of them.
The only love I truly know how to show is through my writing. Everything else is an approximation of what I observe others call love, love that I as an autistic child emotionally never have fully understood.
I write because I hope one or more will read this and gain [a new] understanding of something similar within themselves.