There never seems to be enough room in the print version of Writer's Digest to include all of the interviews I'd like to be able to run. So, I decided to bring a brief-but-essential interview series "Off The Page: the unbound WD Interview" right here to The Writer's Perspective.
For this first "Off the Page" I'd like to introduce my favorite new funny man, Jason Roeder. You may be familiar with Jason from our pages, where he just started writing the new "Roeder Report" humor column in our Inkwell section. In our October issue, he wrote a piece about how to get in— and get out of—a writing group, check it out. Jason's also written humor for Salon, The New Yorker and McSweeney's among other prestigious publications.
Jason is getting set to launch his debut book of humor: Oh, The Humanity! A Gentle Guide to Social Interaction for the Feeble Young Introvert (TOW Books). And he kindly decided to answer a few questions for all of you writerly types here on The Writer's Perspective.
So, how does a writer get started writing humor?
The way so many unhealthy addictions are nourished—the Internet. There are plenty of online humor mags, each with its own take on funny. You can also solicit more general-interest magazines. Salon was publishing very little humor when I sent in my first submission, but I got the attention of the right editor with the right material, so it ran.
Do you do straight (non-funny) writing, too?
Humor writing rarely pays well, so I have to sell out and contribute short stories to literary journals just for the cash flow. I actually have about 10,000 words of a novel-like substance.
Who are your humor writing icons?
Andy Rooney without a doubt! He’s not afraid to say the things about office supplies that everyone else wants to say.
Take us through an average day in the life of a humor writer.
Average? Nothing average about it. It’s all snowboards and Mountain Dew. Actually, at the moment, I’m an unemployed humor writer, which means I’m predisposed to sleeping through the afternoon until The People’s Court comes on.
Tell the truth: How in the world did you get a book deal, anyway?
My agent found out that John Warner would be heading up a new humor imprint, and she sent him my proposal. I realize that’s a bland and not particularly helpful sentence, but what might be more useful is the fact that John and I had a preexisting writer/editor rapport through mcsweeneys.net. So, above and beyond what the proposal offered, John knew that he had a writer who was pretty reliable and could take edits without torching the neighborhood. Even though I’d never been paid for contributing to the site, I had developed a worthwhile connection.
Of course, if a shiny Sacagawea dollar just happened to fall out of the envelope when John opened it, who can say if it had any unintended influence?
What's the most essential thing a writer needs to know about marketing his book?
Well, we’ll have to see if the purchase numbers ultimately justify what I think I know—I mean, this may be a toxic observation—but I’ll say this: No one—not your editor, not your agent, not even the publicity department—should be as invested in promoting your book as you are. And if you’re a new writer, none of them will be, almost certainly. It seems unfair: You’ve done the writing, and now you just want to move on to not having any ideas for your next book. But that’s how it goes.
It appears from the title of your book, that you hate introverts. Since many writers are introverts, I'm compelled to ask : Why do you hate introverts?
If I hated introverts, then I’d be self-hating, which I am, but for other shameful reasons related to Iran’s nuclear program. Something tells me that this won’t be the last time I answer this question, though I doubt I’ll hear it from many people who have actually read the book.
If you're so introverted, why did you let me interview you?
You seemed non-threatening enough. I’m drunk. I was promised a puppy.
Please leave your comments or questions for Jason here.