Sunday, April 6, 2014

F is for #FRIENDSHIP WITH STRANGE PEOPLE #atozchallenge #danieldaylewis

When I say "strange" here, I mean "strange" in the sense that people like Orson Welles, J. D. Salinger, John Lennon, Dave Chappelle, and Fiona Apple can be considered profoundly "strange" while alive, and yet somehow can be considered "brilliant" the moment they are safely dead. I believe strange people make the best friends and the best role models.

Let me be clear. As a consumer, I want as many years out of Fiona and Dave (neither of whom I know) as I can possibly get. I don't want them to die anytime soon. I'm trying to live up to their example.

Mark my words, though. Once they do die, many decades from now, Godwilling, they are going to move from being thought of as "strange" to being thought of as "brilliant." That transition will take about one one-hundredth of a second. 

"Eccentric" is another code-word that gets used a lot to describe the kinds of people I mean. People often call Daniel Day-Lewis eccentric, for instance. (Proof of this.) He's another person I'd love to be friends with.

Here's my definition: To be strange and eccentric, you need to have very high standards for yourself and others, and you need to be consistently unreasonable about anything and everything that's connected to meeting those standards. 

I reached a point in my life where I was OK with being a strange person.

There were a couple of conclusions behind this OK-with-being-strange adjustment. It accompanied the completion of my first novel. 

  • My dad was considered strange, so maybe it's a genetic issue. 
  • The artists I admire most are considered strange. 

In recent years, many of my most important friendships have come about as a result of interactions via social media. Typically, these friendships are with fellow artists. I'm not going to call any of these amazing people out for being strange here. They can do that on their own blog if they want. They know who they are. And they also know that strange people are sometimes high-maintenance people.

My point is: If you are a) an artist, b) patient, c) cool with my need for feedback, d) cool with my boundless energy, e) cool with my occasional pathetic insecurities about the quality of my work, f) cool with people making mistakes they learn from, g) cool with a desire for connection based on more than one person reaching full potential,  h) cool with heartfelt and authentic apologies for excesses as appropriate, i) cool with occasional obsessive/compulsive behavior, j) cool with a love of good books, and k) cool with pervasive good intent, then I AM YOUR KIND OF FRIEND. If not, all is cool and rock on.

Thelonius Liddell, my protagonist, is considered strange and eccentric, too. I wrote my novel JIHADI: A LOVE STORY imagining Daniel Day-Lewis, a fellow strange person, playing the role of Thelonius in the film version. That would explain the presence of his image below. I used his picture as one of my writing prompts. I don't know Daniel Day-Lewis.

Daniel, even though we're not friends yet, I celebrate your strangeness. As fellow strange person, I hope you will take a look at this book. Here's a video excerpt. Here's how to reach me to get the whole manuscriptKatharine Hepburn bought the film rights to THE PHILADELPHIA STORY. By all accounts, she was strange, too. Let's form a club.