HOW TO GO FROM SITCOM WRITER TO HUMOR NOVELIST IN 10 EASY STEPS

Recently, people have been asking me: “How do you make the transition from TV comedy to writing novels?   Well, I’ve spent some time time thinking about this, and devised what I believe to be a no-nonsense 10-Step Program.   Not only is it foolproof — I’ve saved you two steps!  Now get to work.

1. WATCH A MARATHON OF “WHITNEY” AND “TWO BROKE GIRLS”

In no time, you’ll be reaching for a copy of “Moby Dick” as your affinity for sitcoms evaporates into thin air.

2. EMBRACE YOUR NEW BEST FRIEND: PROSE

In your spec sitcom script, Whitney enters and tells a lame joke.  In your novel, you can let us know everything going on in Whitney’s head that drove her to say something that lame.

3. FREE YOURSELF TO WRITE INTERESTING LANGUAGE

One of the new sitcoms that will air this coming season berates a character for using the words “rife” and “vibrant.”  As a novelist, you will be permitted to employ these adjectives in addition to time-honored favorites like  “endemic” and “ubiquitous.”

4. FREE YOURSELF TO WRITE CRUDE LANGUAGE FOR INTERESTING PURPOSES

In your sitcom script, you gratuitously mention sex organs as punchlines.  In your novel, you can explore sexual themes that actually come from character.  Instead of trying to shock us with toilet humor, show us something more shocking: real talent.

5. LEAVE YOUR RESENTMENT OF AUTHORITY BEHIND

As you depart the world of television, you will no longer have to politely nod your head as dopey executives tell you they love your script, “but can you make the boy a dog?”  You’re in charge now.

6. GET USED TO BEING IN CHARGE

Since you’re now your own boss, you get to be the mean one.  Recognize however, that you’re also the one getting reamed, so pick your battles wisely.

7. GROW UP

It happens to all of us.  If you fall outside the 18-49 target TV demographic, no one is interested in your scriptwriting services anyway, so why not write a novel?

8. REALIZE THAT THERE ARE MORE IMPORTANT THINGS THAN MONEY 

Crucial, because as a novelist you’ll be living on ramen for a while.

9. ENJOY YOUR WORK BEING SEEN

Even though both Creative Artists Agency and your Aunt Ceil feel you have no talent, you can now solicit opinions from anyone with a computer.  It costs nothing to upload a Kindle book, and you can price it low to attract readers to a new author.

10. REMOVE THE WORD “EASY” FROM YOUR VOCABULARY

Writing anything good is never easy.  If you don’t agree, keep typing that “Whitney” spec script.

SHAME ON FACEBOOK OBITUARIES

R.I.P.

We hear endless chatter about how social media has changed the world, but there’s one aspect of this phenomenon that nobody’s talking about. Used to be you’d have to open the newspaper or turn on the news to find out that one of society’s luminaries had passed on, but nowadays all you need to do is look at your phone to learn that one of your Facebook friends is deep in mourning over the death of a recurring actor she used to watch on Petticoat Junction.

Social media has turned everyone into an obit writer. I, myself, waxed wistfully over the passings of Levon Helm and Doc Watson, as did many others. Afterward, I felt guilty about it. Why? Because thanks to Facebook, there’s just a glut of wistful waxing.    From obscure 80’s rock bassists to politicians who spent their entire careers in the pockets of lobbyists, all of them “will be deeply missed.”

Now don’t get me wrong –I have nothing against honoring the dead.  I just think there’s a difference between memorializing people we knew or the artists who truly moved us, and simply being the first to announce the celebrity death du jour.  But the rabid RIP-ers seem to be in some kind of a race.   The explanation — dare I speak its name?  Being number one to the finish line with an RIP is a subtle form of SELF-PROMOTION, ie: “You won’t believe who died and see how much I’m missing him before you even got the chance to?”

As both a self-promoter and a hater of self-promotion, I am especially qualified to be the bearer of this awful news.   I am also fully cognizant that taking this stand will discourage anyone from posting my Facebook obituary when the time comes.  Nevertheless, I would now like to take this opportunity to wish a long and healthy life to all the non-original members of the re-formed Canned Heat.