Tuesday, August 10, 2004


Do you ever do something, see something,
read something, hear something, that makes
you feel totally alive again? As in get you
out of your funk to which you thought there
was no end? Just in time before you convinced
yourself that oh well I guess I am just ‘one
of those people’ that will go to work come
home go to work come home go to work come
home go to work come home.
Time to make the donuts.

I came alive again last night. In a bookstore.
In Brooklyn. In a back room of a shop where
the sun was setting and there were big windows
and wood floors and a pretty garden out back
and a room full of strangers-not too many-
just enough-there to listen to a panel of some
of my favorite writers talk about humor writing.
For the record I’d like to say that writer/
moderator Sarah Vowell(Take the Cannoli/NPR
This American Life) is KICK ASS as well as
Cynthia Kaplan (Why I’m Like This) and hot
shot superstar Jonathan Ames (My Less Than
Secret Life, etc.)

The amazing thing about this three-hour affair
aside from it NOT being held in an overly crowded,
hot Manhattan Barnes & Noble full of assholes
wearing linen and carrying small dogs in straw
bags who only heard about the author in last
Sunday’s New York Times- was that the entire
lecture was so so so informative and attended
by people that truly wanted to be there. I
took about ten thousand pages of notes.

Among many things I found helpful were the

(On reading your work out loud and editing)

“Chances are…if you are reading what you wrote
and find yourself yawning or thinking to yourself
wow-I really can’t wait to get through this part
so I can get to the part when I’m really, really
funny-then chances are you are wasting your own
time. With yourself. And that’s bad.”
-Sarah Vowell

(on Writer’s Block)

“I don’t think writers get writers block but
rather writers FEAR. When I was between books and
totally unable to write anything of substance I
would wake up in the morning and say to myself
ok…write your novel TODAY. As in…the entire
novel. And then out of fear I would start a page
and get distracted and depressed and set myself
up for failure and failure over and over again.
Finally I realized two things-I can’t write a novel
in just one day. And I certainly need more than
a day to fail at life.”
–Jonathan Ames


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