It’s hard for me to talk about letting life inspire what you write, because it’s just always been so natural for me to have life inspire me to write. All the time I hear something that somebody says and I think, Boy, I’ll use that some day in my writing. I’ve just been so tuned in to that way of thinking for so long that it’s second nature.
Also, writing about something, whether painful or hysterical, is, for me, the very best way to deal with it. If something is painful, writing about it takes a lot of the pain and pressure out of the situation. It’s weird, and I can’t explain why it does, but it just softens it. Also, when I see the words down on paper, I often think I can handle this. It’s as if I’m reading about somebody else, and the events of their life don’t seem that tragic or life altering.
In terms of writing comedy, I’m sure there’s something I hear or see every day that inspires me to write it. I think it’s because I find humor in so many things that others might seem as depressing, dark. I think this has more to do with my childhood than anything else. I’m the youngest of five kids, and we never, ever had any money. My parents were always fighting—mainly about money—and my dad was an alcoholic, so often the fights were liquor-fueled.
Somehow, and I’m not how this all started, I became the clown of the house, the one who’d lighten things up. This made me really see things different than other people see them. There are certain things, of course, that’ll never be funny, like child molestation, something like that. But there have been a lot of comedies where death is a central theme…the funny stuff is all around; I see it clearly, maybe for others they have to look a little harder for it.
Richard Arneson’s thirteen years working in corporate America drove him up a tree—literally. Once he escaped the telecommunications industry after ten years of service, he built a tree house—ostensibly for his two young sons—installed electricity and cable TV, and set out to fix himself, deciding that dealing with the memories of working in the goofy-as-hell world of corporate America could only be accomplished by getting them down on paper. Citizen Dick is the result.
Arneson is currently working on his next novel, The Tree House, which, ironically, is not being written in his tree house but in the cab of his 1950 Chevy pickup truck. He lives in Dallas, Texas with his wife and their two sons. He has plans to build a second story on his tree house in early 2010, one large enough to accommodate a baby grand piano and two dental chairs.
Visit his website at: CitizenDick.com