I am not Tyler Durden. If anything, I’m far more Ignatius J. Reilly from A Confederacy of Dunces, not the revolutionary from Fight Club. Nor am I very Chuck Palahniuk, but again, John Kennedy Toole could be my brother.
So long story short, Audible.com was giving away books for cheap, cheap, cheap, and so I bought a couple of books, and yes, one book I bought was a story about a guy on the edge, starting up fight clubs to combat his middle-class ennui. The other? About an obese hypocrite who causes chaos and discord wherever he goes due to his pathetic social skills and bombastic tendencies. And yet, Ignatius J. Reilly does have his theology and geometry, taste and decency.
I’ve been pining because reading has become a chore for me, and I used to love to read. But thank God, these two books have sparked my imagination.
Unlike Tyler Durden, I am not a fighter. In my heart of hearts, I am like Ignatius J. Reilly and his creator, John Kennedy Toole. Toole wrote this book, shopped it around, was summarily rejected, and then killed himself. It was through the efforts of his mother and Walker Percy that the book was published and went on to win the Pulitzer.
I started writing half-way seriously when I was 24 years old, March of 1994, and those opening pages would become my first finished novel, The Dream of the Archer. Part play, part postmodern treatise, totally cross-genre. Oh, it had everything I loved about books: battle scenes, word play, demons, princesses, self-aware characters, meta-literature, all of that. I worked on that one book for five years. No one could read it. Tyler Durden would have killed people to get readers. I ran away. I went to the movies. I ate Paradise hot dogs and fretted.
What if. What if I had stuck with that original book, my original passions, the soap I fashioned from the fat of my minutes and the flesh of my life? It’s impossible to know because the reality is. I don’t have another Aaron in a control group to follow me around for the double-blind testing—no other me to play out that the “what if?”
For the narrator of Fight Club, Tyler Durden was the great “what if”?
For me, I made a decision to write more marketable books. I wanted to get an ISBN. I wanted to get published. I chose what I thought would get me the big book contract and I pursued it. I am published. I have not one but two ISBNs. With a third, fourth, fifth, sixth coming in the near future.
I am proud of the books I am publishing for they do have theology and geometry, taste and decency. Oh, but the Tyler Durden in me keeps asking….what if? What if? What if?
What if I had hit that guy at that writers conference who told me I couldn’t write cross-genre books, that I shouldn’t write literary novels? What if I had hit that guy, as hard as I could, right in the face?
I didn’t, so I don’t know.Now?
The secret about me? Okay, I’ll tell you, but you can’t tell anyone else, okay? I love hardcore, serious literature. When I read, I like to read dark, deep, and literary. Ideally, we should write the books we most love to read, so I should be writing hardcore literary novels.
Shhh…don’t tell anyone.
But do you know what? At the same time, I love swords and machine guns and magic spells and vampires. I like taking chances, grand chances, that a lot of times don’t work out.
I can’t be Tyler Durden, but I can leave my mother’s house with Ignatius, and we can go out into the world, and yes, I will be ridiculous, I will be loud, and I will fail, but if I am to fail, I won’t fail by playing it safe.
I’m going to write genre books with a literary bent. I am going to write across genres, though everyone tells me not to, and I’m going to take chances and try crazy things because there are no rules.
And I’ll be dead soon. I don’t want to leave behind half-hearted books that I wrote only for the market in some mercenary pursuit of other people’s praise and dollar bills.
No. I want to write Aaron Michael Ritchey novels. Part genre trope, part dark literary, all me.
Aaron Michael Ritchey is the author of Long Live the Suicide King, a finalist in the Reader’s Favorite contest. Kirkus Reviews calls the story “a compelling tale of teenage depression handled with humor and sensitivity.” His debut novel, The Never Prayer, was also a finalist in the Colorado Gold contest. His forthcoming works include a new young adult novel from Staccato Publishing and a six book YA sci-fi/western series from Kevin J. Anderson’s WordFire Press. In shorter fiction, his G.I. Joe inspired novella was an Amazon bestseller in Kindle Worlds and his story, “The Dirges of Percival Lewand” was nominated for a Hugo. He lives in Colorado with his wife and two goddesses posing as his daughters.
For more about him, his books, and how to overcome artistic angst, visit www.aaronmritchey.com. He’s on Facebook as Aaron Michael Ritchey and he tweets - @aaronmritchey.