Thanks.Get a lot of compliments on it?
Yeah, sure. A few.Really?
Yeah. Wait, what’s with the tone? You just complimented me on it.Well sure…
You were just being polite, weren’t you?It’s just not really my style, you know? But you make a deal about it…
I make no deal, I just wear the thing. The deal come to me. I’ve been assaulted by people over this hat, I’ll have you know. I had a crazy person run out of a hair salon – mid cut – and ask me if they could have it.Did you give it to them?
… No. Besides the fact that I am currently wearing it, why would I give my hat to a stranger running up to me on the street?Well, if they asked nicely.
They were still wearing the smock! Look, this is a weird way to start to start an interview.Fair point. Tell me about your childhood.
I’m out.Wait, wait, wait. OK… what’s with the hobo stuff?
Hobo stuff?Yeah, the hobos in libraries. You go on about it a lot.
Well, that started off as a joke. See, when the site first launched…In 2012?
Right, well, the only page views we got for the longest time were from Russian spam sites and random locations. So, I assumed that they were homeless people in public libraries using us to hide the Korean pornography they were looking at.Is that a thing?
You would be horrified at the regularity. In fact, saying that they were hiding it gives them far more credit than they deserve. Most just… let it hang…Ewww. OK, I’m sorry I asked. Moving on.
Probably wise.What’s your favourite movie?
What is this, a first date? That’s weak sauce, try again.Umm, ok? If you could… date… any movie… on a desert island, which would be your favourite?
Wow.Fine. What would you say is your mission statement for The Disgruntled Individual?
Ah, see now, that is a question. Personally, I just want a place to write. I love writing, and any excuse I can find to write is a good excuse for me. And it usually means I’m avoiding something I ought to be doing, like dishes, or taxes, or some such nonsense. But institutionally, it’s nothing that high-minded. I spent a lot of years answering questions coming from thirsty and inquiring minds, and this is really just an extension of that. Taking what I know, or at least the method of how I know, and applying it to one of the few things that I get real genuine pleasure from.Spending time in public libraries?
Sure, I… NO! Stories. I love stories. They are the fabric of our culture, going back to when we were just barely impressive apes. People use the phrase “collective consciousness” and usually it’s some nutbag who thinks vaccines cause autism or drinking spiced water can cure whopping chough, but stories are the collective consciousness. To borrow a phrase, they surround us and penetrate us, and bind us together. Stories have always been, and will always be, the method by which we are most strongly and most apolitically brought together as a species. Sex is blind physicality, but falling love is really just getting caught up in another person’s story and wanting to see how it ends. The method of delivery changes – tales told at fireside, written as books, broadcast as radio, or shown as movies – but what doesn’t change is that more people can find common ground at the foot of stories then by any other means.But you don’t tell stories, you criticize them.
First off, I do consider myself a story teller, just not a successful one. But, yeah, criticism is what I do here most often. But criticism isn’t a bad thing. Certainly nothing that should be villianized. Criticism is a healthy part of the process. Look at it this way: would you drink muddy water?No.
Right? No one would. You’ve got to filter it first. You’ve got to make sure it runs clear, and maybe boil it some, to get the diphtheria causing bacteria out before you drink it. That’s the editing process. You boil the story until its fit for consumption.But criticism comes after the fact. After you’ve already taken a drink.
Yeah, but it’s still part of the same process. It’s ongoing. Because maybe this glass of water wasn’t clean enough. Maybe it needed to be boiled some more. Maybe there was a dead mouse in the bottom of the glass. Criticism isn’t designed to make a person feel bad, and any critic that sets out to make anyone feel bad is just being mean, not being productive. Reasonable, productive criticism is telling the person who gave you the water that next time, they can build on what they’ve done and do better yet. Whether that manifests as boiling it for a while longer, or get the pool skimmer out.You have said some mean things about some people.
Well, OK. Occasionally, they deserve it. And I’ll own that. I own everything I’ve said, even the stuff that was clearly false. But it’s nothing to make a habit of, and it’s nothing to build a foundation of credibility on. After a point, it’s just bullying.Why this then? Why not just post fanfic on forums?
Well, part of me feels that I’m helping my own craft by doing this. A good artist accepts that they are developing their style based on their opinion of the work of others.So, you’re surveying the competition?
More that I’m examining it. I try to always bring things back to science. I like to say I’m... you know how people say they are a “religious person.” Men of God, that sort of thing?Sure.
Well, I like to say that I’m a Man of Science, in that same way. And a scientist works from available data. A good scientist works from as much relevant data as possible. So, beneath all my criticism is really just a selfishness, trying to gather up as much data as possible.Looking at everything.
Everything, seeing what works, what doesn’t. What goes bad, what should be avoided. By spending time examining the works of others, I hope it makes me better at what I want to do. Which is tell stories.So, all the stuff about Lego, and dinosaurs?
Well, that’s just good fun.One last question: what’s with the weird way you capitalize the R in your name? Is it meant to be separate, or is it pronounced like “mister” or is it just a persistent typo?
It’s just my name.That is unhelpful.
That’s fun too.