Inspired by author Darci Schummer’s post about why she writes sad stories, I started thinking about why I write weird stories. I sometimes say, “That’s just what comes out,” but there’s more to it than that.
First grade. Mrs. O’Connell’s classroom. So many kids staring at me. Maybe they wanted to be friends. Maybe they were staring at my awesome Star Wars hat, the one my parents had bought for me special for my return to school after a long absence. I was so proud of that hat. So proud.
But that’s not what they were staring at. They were staring at the bandages around my shaved head and the scars peeking out. They were staring at my eyes. They were staring because I looked different. And they were thinking of names to call me, names that scarred much deeper than the cuts from my surgeries. Didn’t they know that I just wanted someone to play with?
That was okay though, because I could create worlds filled with stuff like time-traveling fuzz monsters and glow-in-the-dark dinosaurs, stuff that I could understand, because I sure the fuck couldn’t understand why everyone was so mean to me when I wasn’t mean to them. Not only could I understand what went on in the worlds I created, I could control it.
And I did find friends, kids who just wanted to bike and skate and listen to metal, at least until middle school and high school, when they decided that being cool did matter. So they disappeared, and I kept writing, and the writing got weirder, and sometimes the only thing that kept me alive was diving into these worlds I scribbled out. I sure didn’t want those worlds to look like the real world. Fuck the real world. Monsters and spaceships kept me safe.
And they still do. A couple weeks ago, I smiled at a woman – not lasciviously, just the way that I smile at people and hope I always smile at people – and she called me a name. And I’m still that kid in Mrs. O’Connell’s classroom and I still need a place to go because I can sometimes see that the people looking at me don’t always have friendship in mind even though I always do and I keep having people who I thought would stick with me leave me alone and was it my fault? I don’t understand.
But I always understand what happens in the worlds I write. Maybe you’ll understand too or maybe you’ll get freaked out by stories about professional small animal inside-outers, but at least you won’t be thinking about whatever bullshit the real world dealt you today, right?