Ever thought of writing humor? How about donating proceeds of your book to a great cause? Cris Cohen is doing both of those things now!
Enjoy this interview.
You have received some impressive endorsements for your book, Staying Crazy To Keep From Going Insane from Dave Barry and T.C. Boyle. Tell us about the book and how it came about?
Like many writers, I had always dreamed of both publishing a book and finding a way to make my computer a tax deduction. I used to write a weekly humor column that ran in various California newspapers. Committing to a weekly deadline with other people can be a great source of motivation and increased stomach acid. It helps to develop discipline, style, and an appreciation of Tums. I now live in North Carolina and write a blog, but I still had all of my columns saved in three-ring binders (an old fashioned device with metal clamps that stores papers and, occasionally, draws blood).
Since I am not starring in a reality television show (“This week on ‘Drunk People Who Throw Things’…”), I was never going to be offered a book contract by the big publishing houses. So one day I just said, “To heck with it” and decided to find a way to publish the book myself. I pulled together a mixture of old columns and new pieces and began researching the various options, which can be a humbling experience. “Self-Publishing: Because no one else finds you interesting.” “Print-On-Demand: Why create hundreds of copies when you will only sell five?”
Somehow, though, I have managed to get a few followers, a publicist, and endorsements from some real writers. I feel very lucky.
Can you share a short passage of the book you really like?
Here is one section that I just posted on my blog as part of a contest inviting people to submit illustrations. The winning illustration will be used in the book and bring the artist the kind of fame that can normally only be achieved by posting a really disturbing classified ad.
I recently stayed in the kind of hotel that is often described as charming. In the hotel industry, “charming” is code for “may or may not contain plumbing.” Renovations had last been done sometime around the Paleolithic Era. As a result, the hotel had an old world style reminiscent of the Victorian Age or a Prisoner of War camp.
The bathroom for my room had a single light bulb that ranked in wattage somewhere below a disposable match. It gave off a yellow glow that nowadays is only seen coming from toxic materials. It was just enough light that you could see yourself in the mirror and wonder if you had some sort of skin disorder.
Proceeds from your book are going to the Miracle League of the Triangle. Tell us more about that charity? Why did you choose it?
The Miracle League of the Triangle is a baseball league for kids with special needs. One of those kids is our son, Max. A couple of years ago one his therapists told us about the league and every season we have become more and more involved. It has been an amazing experience, not just for Max, who otherwise couldn’t play in a baseball league, but for us as well. We have made some great friends, people who understand the challenges we have with raising a special needs child and offer advice and support. With all that we have gained from the league, I wanted to give something back. Thus, the bulk of the proceeds from the book will be donated to the league.
Share some of your writing goals. What’s next for you?
I hope to publish more books in the future. I already have a couple of others in the works. I will also keep working on my blog and might even start contributing to an online newspaper. I think anything else would require increasing my caffeine intake to almost lethal levels.
Hmmm. It would be difficult to choose just one. I will say, though, that kind of what got me started down this road was Dave Barry’s book Dave Barry Slept Here: A Sort of History of the United States. I read that in college. Besides thinking it was hilarious, I was awestruck that someone got to write books like that for a living.
Book you’re currently reading?
I am currently reading TC Boyle’s book The Women: A Novel. It is an amazing intermingling of fiction and history. Mr. Boyle has an eloquence that is rivaled only by the way my relatives talk about a really good buffet.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I spend a lot of time engaging in self-doubt and general anxiety. I don’t mean to brag, but if it were an Olympic event, I think I would medal in it.
Do you believe in writer’s block? If so, how did you get past it? If not, why not?
Sometimes I think that writer’s block is just a myth, like the tooth fairy or affordable health insurance. Other times I fear it and try to keep it away with begging and the occasional animal sacrifice.
Where can we learn more about you?
Thankfully those records were sealed under court order.
Anything else you’d like to add?
No. Although there are a number of statements that I have made in my life that I would like to take back. Is that something that you could help with? [Editor’s note: Ah…..no.]
Public Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Nothing-in-Particular/302143773825
Upcoming book: http://stayingcrazy.com/
Want to write humor like Cris? Here are some resources to help you out:
- And Here’s the Kicker: Conversations with 21 Top Humor Writers on their Craft
- The New Comedy Writing Step by Step
- The Comic Toolbox: How to Be Funny Even If You’re Not