Interview With My Protagonist (Post #414)

Protagonist: You might not want to drink that second cup of coffee that you have there.

Me: Thanks, but I need it. I’m feeling tired this morning. Probably will not drink all of it though.

Protagonist: Don’t you think you should start exercising in the morning rather than sitting here doing stuff like this?

Me: Probably would not hurt, but I am too tired. Besides, this is my time for drinking coffee, reading and writing.

Protagonist: I remember when you would wake up, meditate for forty-five minutes and then go for an hour walk. I think you have just become lazy and neglectful of your mental and physical health.

Me: Ok, well I appreciate your perspective but this is actually supposed to be an interview with you rather than a therapy sessions for me, so would you mind if we begin the interview now?

Protagonist: Ok. Hey you might not want to keep sipping from that coffee cup.

Me: Thanks for coming today. I appreciate your willingness to be interviewed.

Protagonist: I did not have much of a choice, right? I have to just show up whenever Randall is ready to write. This is the unfortunate thing about being a protagonist. No free will. No matter what I am doing in my own life, even if I am in the middle of making love with a beautiful woman, I have to stop, get up and show up for Randall whenever he is ready to write.

Me: Ok, well thank you. I do appreciate that.

Protagonist: I don’t think you really do. I do not think you really understand how difficult it is to be a protagonist. Imagine, if you were in the middle of making dinner and you were really hungry and then without any choice you had to suddenly leave and go play some part in someone else’s story.

Me: Sounds hard but I think we all have to do this in one way or another. Most of us live lives that are parts in someone else’s story. Besides, you are a protagonist, this is your job. But this is not the point of this interview. Tell me, what is your life like when I am not writing about you?

Protagonist: You don’t want to talk about this stuff because it is true. My life has been greatly sacrificed by having to show up whenever you want me and I have never even made a single penny off anything you have written.

Me: Well I am yet to make any money either from writing. But please, tell me about your life outside of my writing?

Protagonist: Maybe if you got your act together, made more of an effort to get your work out there rather than just publishing your writing for free on your blog that no one reads we both might be able to begin making some money. Life is not easy for an artist, you have to push yourself beyond your blog.

Me: Maybe so.

Protagonist: You have to be willing to work harder! Did you know that Beethoven was sued more than once by his landlords for scribbling all over his walls?

Me: I did not.

Protagonist: Now that is a sign of someone hard at work.

Me: Maybe so. Are you going to answer the question that I asked you?

Protagonist: Would you mind turning off the heat? It is getting uncomfortably warm in here.

Me: Sure (I get up and turn off the electrical heater).

Protagonist: So what are we doing here? It is early Sunday morning and I am not so sure what the point of all of this is?

Me: I am trying to ask you questions about yourself. I thought that since you have been a fundamental character in my writings for the past ten years that it would be good to get to know you better.

Protagonist: Get to know me better? You are the one who creates me. Shouldn’t you know more about me than I know about myself?

Me: Sure, but I want to know about the you that exists outside of my writing. I want to know about your life outside of my stories.

Protagonist: This is one thing that frustrates me with you Randall. You are always looking for the easier way out. You want me to help you learn more about me? Yet you are the one who creates me. How the hell would I know more about myself than you know about me? Outside of what you write, my life is not interesting. You want me to tell you about how I live in poverty because the author who creates me is not willing to make any money off of what he writes? You want me to tell you about the shit jobs I have to work because the writer I work with is always looking to take the easy way out by self-publishing on his blog rather than actually trying to get legitimately published?

Me: Ok. First of all, I am certainly not always looking for the easier way out, that is ridiculous. You really think it is easy to be sitting here for hours doing this? Writing and editing and then publishing on my blog regularly is no easy undertaking. I would much rather be reading or doing something else. As far as not getting legitimately published, well I don’t know what to tell you. I tried for years and it came to nothing. I believe that this blogging thing will pay off in time, we just have to be patient. The purpose of this interview is not to talk about what I am doing wrong. It is just to learn more about you!

Protagonist: That is your problem, not mine. Randall, did you know that James Joyce had lost all his teeth by the age of forty-one? Aren’t you forty-five?

Me: I am yes, almost.

Protagonist: Hasn’t it been more than a decade since you have been to the dentist?

Me: Probably.

Protagonist: Well, you might want to take better care of your teeth because there is nothing worse that a writer with teeth falling out. What if you become a successful writer later in life? You going to show up to book readings and signings with no teeth in your mouth? That will really help your career.

Me: (My protagonist is really starting to piss me off.)

Protagonist: Did you know that the painter Monet was so broke when he was thirty-nine that when his wife died he could not find the money to be able to redeem the pawned locket that he knew his beloved wife wished to be buried with?

Me: I did not know that. That is sad.

Protagonists: Life is never pretty for artists and writers but it is even worse for protagonists.

Me: So lets get back to the point of this interview. I am curious to know what you think of how you are portrayed in my writings?

Protagonist: Honestly?

Me: Yes.

Protagonist: Honestly, I’m bored by what you write.

Me: What do you mean by this?

Protagonist: I mean I like how you make me out to be this troubled and neurotic, middle-class misanthrope who is always at odds with his life and family but you no longer take enough risks. You are now playing it safe and it’s getting a bit boring.

Me: Ok…..

Protagonist: Remember years ago when you first started self-publishing on your blog? The stuff you wrote then was great! Sex Life Of A Man Without One, Part One through Part Twenty. Now that was a great series of writings to be a protagonist in. You had courage back then. You were unafraid of taking deviant right turns. Now it seems like you are going left instead.

Me: I remember that stuff. Times were different then. I could afford to take those kind of risks. Now I have more to lose.

Protagonist: You’ve become fearful.

Me: Maybe so.

Protagonist: Once a writer becomes fearful, their work becomes dull.

Me: Maybe so.

Protagonist: Did you know that the writer John Kennedy Toole was so convinced that his writing career would come to nothing that he committed suicide by running a hose from his exhaust pipe into his car?

Me: I knew that he had committed suicide but did not know how or why. Why are you asking me these questions? I feel like you are testing me.

Protagonist: No, I just want you to know that the path you have chosen is no easy path. Even those who came before you that you think of as being successful at their craft suffered immensely.

Me: Point taken. So I am curious if…..

Protagonist: Did you know that Gustave Courbet died when he was fifty-eight? Towards the end of his life the guy was drinking a full dozen bottles a wine a day!

Me: I didn’t know this but thanks for letting me know. I always liked his work.

Protagonist: Oh common, you didn’t know his work. What work of his do you like?

Me: Look, can we just get back to the interview?

Protagonist: Tell me, what work of his do you like?

Me: Look, I don’t know right now, nothing comes to mind, but I am trying to conduct this interview with you and you are making it very difficult. If you do not want to participate, lets just call it a day. I am getting sick of this bullshit. I am not interviewing you so you can teach me some kind of lesson about how hard being a writer is and how much I am failing at this task. This is an interview that is supposed to be about you and I have had it with your bad attitude.

Protagonist: My bad attitude?

Me: Yes, your bad attitude. You always have a bad attitude.

Protagonist: Really?

Me: Yes!

Protagonist: Well dammit you might want to take a look at that because my bad attitude is your creation! You are the one creating me, lets not forget! I am not choosing any of this for myself. You think that if I was given the choice I would be the way I am? You think I would be behaving in the ways that you make me behave? If you do, you are nuts. I have always just played the part you want me to play without any complaining. I am the blank canvas for you to project your disturbed mind all over. My bad attitude is your fault dammit. Not mine.

Me: My fault! My fault! I don’t have any say about what I write. I just sit down and write. You are the one who does the rest. I give you complete freedom to be yourself! You think I am creating you? That is such a crock of shit. That is such an easy way for you to take no responsibility for yourself. Sure, just blame all of your actions on the writer. Typical. Raskolnikov tried to do that with Dostoyevsky and the stress from that relationship caused Dostoyevsky to become a drunk. I will not let you do this with me! You are responsible for your actions just like everyone else.

Protagonist: You know, I am tired of this. I have had enough. You know damn well that Raskolnikov had no say in things. You know that he was Dostoyevsky’s slave. I don’t have to sit here and listen to you tell me about my bad attitude and how I want to blame you for my behaviors. That is a typical cop-out that writers often take. I thought you were better than this. You never take any responsibility for the way you create me and I am tired of it. You need therapy. You need to take a better look at yourself so that you can realize what you are doing to me and my life. If you are creating a character that might end up destroying you in the end, are you going to blame your down fall on my bad attitude? Probably. I have had enough of this bullshit for today. The interview is now over.

Me: Fine. Lets call it a day. This has gone a lot worse than I ever thought it could. I will be sure not to make the mistake of ever trying to interview you again. Have a good Sunday.

Protagonist: Did you know that the Russian writer Emile Zola died from smoke inhalation when the chimney in his bedroom fireplace backed up? He could not afford to have it cleaned.

Me: Enough! Enough! I am feeling really agitated and anxious and just want to get my stuff together in peace and get out of here.

Protagonist: Fine. Fine. I told you not to drink that second cup of coffee.

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