Ever heard of “the boring, creative type?” Me neither. If anything, creative people are more often called eccentric, non-conforming, one-of-a-kind, “out there,” expressive. At times we are accused of being high maintenance, emotional, fickle, excitable.

To that, I say “Good!” It makes life fun.

But I admit it can be challenging at times for those of us who can’t just sit quietly, but who need to express ourselves through creative outlets. We may struggle from feeling a lack of respect from the “strong, John Wayne stoic types,” or like we have a target on our foreheads so others can more easily make fun of us. We may witness more than occasional eye-rolls from people who see expression as frivolous or “silly.” We may even fall prey to our addictive personalities more quickly than do others. But all in all, in the day of a creative person, a lot happens to make life exciting. For me, the benefits most certainly outweigh the struggle.

A Fiction Character’s Interview with His Author

If you could interview your Creator, what would you ask?

In the following interview, I, the writer of Bullies & Allies, am the overseeing author of Kyle Rickett’s teenage life. I am in 2015 while for him the year is 1978, and his coming of age story has just reached its conclusion. I am armed with the clarity of hind-sight as I reach back in time to discuss the outcome of the story I wrote him into. He has questions for me, his creator, and since I know his past, present and future, I’m able to answer him openly.

In this interview, a slightly irritated eighteen-year-old Kyle wants to know why his life couldn’t have been easier and less confusing. As his creator I have good reasons for how things worked out for him and am able to overlook his irritation.

The Following Interview is Fictitious

    Me: “How are you, Kyle?”
    Kyle: “I’m an emotional basket case, thanks to you for creating me that way.”
    Me: “You’re welcome.”
    Kyle: “I wasn’t being funny.”
    Me: “C’mon, Kyle. You’re important.”
    Kyle: “You could have written me as a lucky lottery winner who gives millions to the poor. I’d have been important then too.”
    Me: “Now you are being funny. No one needs to read about a lucky millionaire. You’re important because of the intensity with which you feel things. A lot of people are emotion-based, and they need a character like you to show that it’s okay that you are so.
    Kyle: “Well I don’t always feel like it’s ‘okay that I am so.’”
    Me: “Trust me, you’re okay. In fact you’re better than okay.”

    Kyle: “Okay? I have PTSD for God’s sake. I work hard to be stronger than average, but when the tiniest stress comes my way I shiver and shake like a feeble old fool that needs tranquilizers. It’s not fair. It makes me look insane in front of my friends…in front of girls! Do you know how hard it is to live with something like this?”
    Me: “Of course I know how hard it is. But I see your situation differently. You’re standing up to a world that tells boys like yourself that because you have emotions you shouldn’t be taken seriously. To make your message even more impactful, your emotions have been maliciously tampered with so as to make you appear broken and out of control. You, sir, are the poster-child for showing that men with emotions can not only be okay, but can rise beyond it all and become better than okay. I did you a favor by writing you the way I did. I gave your life a noble purpose. PTSD is not the end of the world, but it’s seen by the public as something only women and soldiers can suffer with. As it turns out, you are not the only civilian boy who has it. I created you to be a voice for a lot of real people that need to be heard. Not everyone gets that honor.”
    Kyle: “Well it sure has caused me a ton of grief.”
    Me: “At first, maybe. But in the end, you were given a lot to be thankful for.”
    Kyle: “Ah the ‘be grateful card.’ The boobie-prize for people who have to find a reason to be glad they have a disease or a broken arm or something. So for your information, Mr. author/creator, your decision to make me this emotional nearly cost me my life. So, gee—thanks.
    Me: “C’mon, Kyle, I saved you before things got too unbearable. The ‘gratefulness card’ isn’t just for people who’ve been in accidents. Everyone needs to remember to be grateful, and accidents serve to remind us of that. Gratefulness is an important perspective to everyone, no matter what. Now that you’re on the mend, I’m sure you can see that a lot of good came from your experience.”
    Kyle: “Sure something good came from it, but with all due respect, that was thanks to Tuck, not you. He’s the one who showed me how to trust people again.”
    Me: “Um…I wrote Tuck also you know. I made him close enough in age for you to feel like he could relate, but gave him seven years on you so he could fill in for the less-than-honorable older siblings you couldn’t trust. To get him ready for you I put him through two grueling years of college that he didn’t want to go to, just to teach him the right things to say to you. I made him do service work at Crisis Intervention so he’d see and recognize your own Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I saved him from dying when he was fifteen so he’d be empathetic to your own near death experience (NDE) at fourteen. That poor guy went through hell so he’d be ready for you. So again, you’re welcome. And he’s a good guy. I’m glad you liked him right from the start.”
    Kyle: “Well we started out a bit rocky, but yeah, he’s the best friend a guy could ask for. You sure took your own sweet time with him. You could have avoided a heck of a lot of my grief if you’d have introduced us a few years sooner.”
    Me: “On the contrary, if I’d have introduced you two sooner, no one, not even him, would have been able to save you. You were sliding too confidently down a slippery slope, growing complacent—too comfortable being uncomfortable. You had adapted too well to your overshadowing troubles to recognize your need for someone like him. You thought your life was normal but it was far from it. You needed to be brought right to the bleeding edge of life and then to be shaken at the core to wake up and see what was happening. You needed to be shocked out of your comfortable journey to hell.”

    Kyle: “What’s so wrong with being comfortable?”
    Me: “Comfortable people don’t change. They soak, like dumplings in slowly heating water until cooked. It takes discomfort, or all-out-pain, to drive change. And from my author’s perspective, people who don’t change don’t have stories I can write about.”
    Kyle: “That’s why I was torn open in an accident? To shake me up?”
    Me: “Damn straight. You needed a physical crisis—one with real blood—to wake you up from a bad dream you didn’t know you were having.”

    Kyle:“Oh, so you had to make me miserable so that I could become happy? My story is about how I changed?”
    Me: “Aren’t all good stories about transformation? Learning? Overcoming? If you’d have met Tuck before your life had degraded into crisis, you’d have shrugged him off as just some nameless busy-body wedging himself into your complacent life. You’d have let him slip past you, unwittingly avoiding a sorely needed rescue. Then the only story I’d have had to tell would have been about another mysterious teen suicide that didn’t appear to make any sense—even to you. I’d have talked about how everyone had thought of you as happy, energetic and likable. I’d have called your death a senseless tragedy that shouldn’t have happened. No one would have ever figure out why such a promising, cute youngster took the ultimate way out.

    Kyle: “I admit, I was pretty confused at one point.”
    Me: “Yeah well, I knew it was coming. I spent four years preparing Tuck to intervene at your crisis—and trust me when I say that after everything I did to him, he needed your friendship as badly as you needed his. I couldn’t let all his suffering be for nothing. He saved you (and you saved him) at exactly the right moment, and he helped us show the world a deep truth about how secretly defeated you felt and how you’d come to be so distrusting of your own allies.”
    Kyle: “What’s weird about that is how I didn’t realize that I didn’t trust people. I thought every family was like mine and that love included having to watch my own back. They were my family. I thought it was morally wrong for me to question their motives.”
    Me: “The whole family wasn’t to blame. Certain antagonists had spent many years covertly, but tenaciously undermining your self-image and quieting your screams for help. It was they who confused you so that whenever you did try to reach out for help, you’d sound crazy and no one would take you seriously. You needed Tuck, but first you needed to know that you needed him. When you became aware of how desperate your own situation had evolved you became ready for me to introduce him to you. That’s when you would allow him to reach in to your insanity for a rescue. Seeing how close you were to your own demise prompted you to reach up and grab his hand.”
    Kyle: “Thank God for that. Okay, I’m starting to figure this out. I’m another bullied character in another novel about being saved from suicide by another caring person?”
    Me: “Don’t minimize this, Kyle. You’re a complex character in a story about being seriously overwhelmed by a sense that you aren’t acceptable to the world. In order to feel as alone as you tend to feel, you needed more than just a sense of confusion. You needed villains.”
    Kyle: “Villains? Plural? Since you’re an author, shouldn’t you stick to the rule of simplicity and have only one villain so you don’t make the plot too difficult to track with?”
    Me: “Normally that is a good rule to follow in novels, but, Kyle, this is more of a true story that’s meant to resonate with a sense of being involuntarily confused and alone in a busy world. I’m kind of annoyed by normal bully stories that don’t address how hard it really is to stand up to enemies you can’t identify—especially when you yourself have been convinced of being too crazy to know what’s going on. If there was only one bully then all you’d have to do is stand up to him. That’s how most novelists do it. They name the one obvious dragon so as to depict you as a hero when turning to face it. But Kyle, real life isn’t always so simple for everyone. Telling a person to ‘stand up to their bully’ isn’t going to help someone who is too confused to identify exactly who that even is. One easy-to-spot antagonist isn’t enough to tear you down the way you were torn down. You actually thought that you were born flawed and that the entire world would see your shame if these extortionist bullies exposed you. How does a boy stand up to that?”
    Kyle: “I guess I really couldn’t.”

    Me: “I needed to put my readers inside your head, so they could experience with you, your true belief that no one understood you. You were that kid whose allies didn’t see your pain because they mistakenly saw you as having a great life. You’re cute, intelligent, close to your parents, cousin Scooter and your amazing best friend, Connor. You worked tirelessly to pretend that you were doing fine in life, and unfortunately for you the ruse worked. By outward appearance you had what a lot of people thought they wanted, so they didn’t look any deeper. People needed to get inside your confused head and experience how you came to the place where you actually saw your own allies as your bullies and subsequently lost your ability to trust anyone.”
    Kyle: “And so one villain wasn’t enough to do me in?”
    Me: “Nope. Not in one blow. You’re too strong for that. You were whittled down slowly by a mob. You looked out to the world for help, but they didn’t respond so you assumed they were part of the mob. In a social structure peppered with various bullies and allies, you didn’t know which was which. Kyle, you represent a category of real people who feel relentlessly overwhelmed by humanity. You’re not the only emotional person out there. As an emotional teen, you look for acceptance in people who don’t understand how to give it to you. You believe criticism much more deeply than you can accept praise. You feel outnumbered and outmatched, even though you aren’t. Your life in Bullies & Allies is a representation of a boy who was driven ‘crazy’ by three key people who had one thing in common: They wanted something from you and didn’t care how they got it. They each made way into your heart so that you’d be too bonded with them to fight back. Your kind spirit and compassionate spark made you an attractive target. Once they had your respect they put their sins on to you and you took the punishment. They used common manipulations to isolate and trick you into believing the whole world was on their side rather than on yours.”
    Kyle: “So my only three bullies were Fran, Andreo and Dr. Krieg? Everyone else was—”
    Me: “—Everyone else was just minding their own business. But when they didn’t announce themselves as being part of your solution, you lumped them together as part of the problem and you became overwhelmed. The true antagonists were three disconnected individuals, each exhibiting a different variation of a single anti-social personality disorder.”
    Kyle: “They were meanies?”
    Me: “They were sociopaths. People who, without the annoying burden of conscience, can say or do anything they want without having to feel bad for it. Fran represented a family member with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) who used divisive gossip and lies to trick unsuspecting family members into a permanent war-like state of defending themselves against each other. Andreo was your former best friend who was fighting with demons of his own. Demons which he eventually transposed onto you and then coldly attacked you for. Dr. Krieg was a common pedophile, empowered by his sociopathic ability to see the world as a playground to feed his obsessions. But he was a family friend and a community pillar, and you were not a fool. You saw the risk of being hated by everyone if you had been the one small boy who’d tried to expose that disgusting mess.”
    Kyle: “And this is supposed to be like a real-life story? Do real people usually have three sociopaths trying to get something from them?”
    Me: “Usually? No. But if you were to go out into the city streets and interview enough runaway teens, you might find that your fictitious story of being manipulated when you were too small to fight back is lame compared to what some of them have been through in real life. Your story is not in any way a far reach from normal life for some. Your life wasn’t violent—which made your abuse a tad more difficult to notice.”

    Kyle: “Whoa. That hit home. I almost became one of those runaway teens, remember?”
    Me: “I remember. Your case was a real eye-opener. You were a normal, middle-class fourteen-year-old with no bruises, but still you believed that the pain of staying with your family was greater than any fear of trying to make it on your own. I guess we humans tend to move away from the greatest perceived pain. The fact remains that evil strikes all classes, and kind-hearted, peaceful, creative, sensitive people become targets for sociopaths a lot more often than the general public can see.”

    Kyle: “But three? How real is that?”
    Me: “You’d be shocked to find that a general rule of thumb in crisis intervention is that people are seldom targeted by bullies only once in their lifetimes. For some reason, no one is sure why, it seems like abuse either never happens to someone or it happens multiple times.”
    Kyle: “Like having the proverbial ‘target on my forehead.’”
    Me: “Exactly.”

    Kyle: “This is making me nervous about my future. As my creator, can you tell me…do I still have a target? Am I cursed for life?”
    Me: “Yes and no. One thing I want you to understand is that life isn’t always so much about miraculous cures as it is about gaining control through awareness and acceptance.”

    Kyle: [heavy sigh] “I’m always going to have PTSD, aren’t I?”
    Me: “They’re going to be working on finding a cure for quite some time, yes. And men without war experience is going to be the last group to be readily acknowledged.”

    Kyle: “Crap.”
    Me: “It’s okay, Kyle. Things work out well for you. I’m thirty seven years in your future and I’ve seen how things turn out. You’ve got a long, exciting, sometimes bumpy ride ahead of you.”
    Kyle: “Is it worth it?”
    Me: “More so than I can even describe. You’ll marry someone who finds you worth the effort it takes to put up with your PTSD episodes. Your kids and grandkids are going to love the two of you because of how attentive you’ll be to making sure they’re never bullied like you were. They’re also going to love you because you’re never going to fully grow up. Neither is Tuck. He’s going to be their favorite uncle and a friend for life that will never stop mentoring you. Oh…and when you’re thirty-six, your sense of humor will make you into a successful stand-up comedian.”
    Kyle: “Woo-HOO! I’m going to be famous?”
    Me: “Mmmm. Not necessarily.”
    Kyle: “Oh.”
    Me: “It will be by your own choice not to pursue show business. For someone like yourself, who struggles with interpersonal trust issues, you’re going to find yourself too uncomfortable by what you’ll call ‘a lack of integrity in the back-stabbing show-biz community.’”
    Kyle: “Oh! Ha ha! I’d feel like I was back with my siblings again?”

    Me: “Exactly! Ha Ha! Also, you’ll find it much more difficult to connect one on one with ‘regular people’ during the time that you are seen as a professional entertainer. You’re all about connection and trust, so you’re gladly going to allow yourself to fade from the public’s eye. On a positive note, what you learn from your year on the stage is going to give you an edge when you become a writer and a public speaker on the topics of mob-bullying and non-military men with PTSD.”
    Kyle: “A writer versus a comedian? Isn’t fame fame?”
    Me: “Not necessarily. Being a writer is much more discrete than stage-work in this star-struck world. You’ll be able to reach out to your audience while enjoying the anonymity of walking around unnoticed in public.”

    Kyle: “Will it make me rich?”
    Me: “Not with money.”

    Kyle: “Again, one of those things you say to someone to make them feel better about being poor?”
    Me: “Trust me on this one, Kyle. You’re an expressive soul. Finding your voice and your perfect fit in life is worth far more than cash. All too often, money-rich people go to bed each night fearing that someone will steal it all. You’ll live in the peace of knowing that no one will ever be able to take this from you. Becoming the man you are meant to be really is going to be better than having money to spend on unneeded luxuries. Excessive money can actually separate you from other people. Being rich sets you apart from a predominantly middle-class culture. You hate feeling alone, so for you, excess money does not bring happiness.”

    Kyle: “I hate to say this, but your reasoning actually sounds pretty realistic.”
    Me: “It is. But be aware of the fact that your ability to connect with others will always be a double-edged sword, making you a ton of friends, both good and bad.”

    Kyle: “Both good and bad? It can’t get easier?”
    Me: “It’s life, Kyle. It’s that way for all of us. Being forewarned is being forearmed. When you make a ton of friends a certain percentage of them are going to be less than honorable—it’s simple math. As a giving person, you will attract a large number of people over the coming decades. Some will seek to take from you. The gift you received by being enlightened at eighteen was that you became able to fully appreciate the trustworthy people, while gaining the ability to heal quickly from the selfish ones.”

    Kyle: “But all in all, I’m going to be okay?”
    Me: “You’ll struggle but you’ll enjoy a deep richness you’d never appreciate if life had been easy. You’ll have times during the year—every year—where you can’t seem to get away from the trauma memories. But you and your family will call it ‘the flu’ and deal with it appropriately. On the nights you can’t sleep, which will be many, you’ll quietly go downstairs and write the things that you learned from your struggles. You’ll never get over your hyper-anxiety, but it will make you into a harder worker among your peers while giving you and your friends an endearing humor around your overactive sense of panic. Like always, you’ll make the best from the hand you were dealt. You’ll have trust issues with everyone you ever meet, but over and over again you’ll work through them. You’ll learn so much about the art of trust that you’ll write books about it. Meanwhile, you’ll be there for people. You’ll give a lot of money and help to friends who need it, but you’ll also give a lot of money and help to people you’ll wish you’d have never fallen victim to. Being gullible will frustrate and often embarrass you, but you’ll brush off the dust and move on.”

    Kyle: “Good God. I’m in for a ride.”
    Me: “A good one, Kyle. You’re in for a good ride. You’ll come to understand that a good life isn’t defined by what is done to you, but by how you choose to grow from it. You’ll find help. Your friends will see that you’re worth their patience. You’ll find a therapist that grounds you. You’ll stay with him for life. Good, steady therapy is sort of the right medicine for someone with your level of trauma-driven anxiety.”

    Kyle: “So…I really am crazy?”
    Me: “Not by a long shot. Just by saying you are…you aren’t. Truly crazy people don’t know they’re crazy. Only sane people have the wisdom to question their own sanity.”
    Kyle: “Then I must be really, really sane…because I feel really, really crazy.”
    Me: “Congratulations on that, and welcome to the club.”

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