The other day on Reddit, someone had this to say on subject of me caring about the quality of my writing:
“…I doubt you care, and I use the word doubt clearly, because there is no way in hell someone who cares would release what you release and do so with pride unless they have one big ass case of the Dunning Kruger Syndrome. Genuine 1 to 1 comment – how on earth did you even think of becoming a writer? I just can’t wrap my ahead around the extreme arrogance.”
I get this kind of reaction in certain circles, being a self-published writer and all. Heck, I got that kind of reaction quite a bit from my fellow students while pursuing my BA in Creative Writing form SFSU. Even before seriously started writing all this “genre” stuff, I was reading it voraciously. I had family members and teachers back in junior high and high school ask me constantly, why do you want to read that? So much why, why, why? As if, for some reason, because they can’t understand it, we have to justify why we read it, draw it, play it, watch it, and/or write it.
Here’s my answer: “Because it’s cool, I love it, and I want to.”
That’s the beauty of the world we live in. We artist can do anything we want, in any way we want to do, and put it out into the world just in case someone else might find joy in what we’re doing, ALL WITHOUT NEEDING ANYONE ELSE’S PERMISSION.
This is what DEAD WEIGHT is to me. It’s a big fat can of “Because it’s cool, I love it, and I want to.” When I turned in the very first draft of it for a short story class, a classmate said something along the lines of, “This would never happen. Why bother writing a story about it.” My reply, “Why be such a control freak about fiction.” Yeah, I can be a little snarky. I had someone really close to me complain about all the geek/nerd culture references in “The Tombs.” One: I’m just getting started with those. And, Two: I’m sick of shows/books/movies created for geeks, but exist in worlds where the basis for those geeky things don’t exist. Just once, I want to see a Zombie anything take place in a world where the people frakking know about frakking zombies. Maybe not everyone, but at least some people. Maybe some of their information is wrong, but dammit, putting something into the brain pan of an undead anything shouldn’t be a huge leap of logic.
Even in the very first draft, I had the fantasy references going. Boy Scout humping through Faerie with the platoon of Marines knew about Faeries because he’d read a bunch of books about them. His mother was also a fantasy nut. He made certain choices because of understanding fantasy tropes and clichés. I’ve held onto that little bit through every subsequent draft, putting more references and Easter eggs. At its heart, Dead Weight is about artist across all mediums, and really, these days more and more people, especially artists, are embracing this whole geek thing. And really, the more stuff we geeky folks write/create for other geeky folks should celebrate the geeky stuff that binds us all together. So, while Dead Weight is dark, grim, gritty, and deals with some pretty mature themes, it’s also a celebration of what it is to be an artist and a lover of art. It’s also a celebration of loving things with a passion that really only exists in geek circles, because we are the foundation of fan movements, and fan comes from the base word “fanatic.”
So the next time you’re enjoying something geeky or nerdy that you love, whether it’s as the artist or a consumer, and someone asks you why (usually in that tone of voice that let you know in no uncertain terms that they think you should be ashamed of it), you look them up and down, pity because they don’t grok, then smile knowingly and say, “Because it’s cool, I love it, and I want to.”
M Todd Gallowglas is the bestselling author of the Tears of Rage Sequence, Halloween Jack books, and most recently, Dead Weight: The Tombs. While not up to his ears in homework while earning a BA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University, he fought crime as a costumed vigilante to relieve stress. Since then, he has returned to his career as professional storyteller at Renaissance Faires. He is currently corrupting his children by raising them with a rich education of geek culture. Shiny!