A LIST OF THINGS THAT I LOVE ABOUT JOHN HODGMAN, MY LITERARY HERO.
(ALSO, PLEASE DON’T EVER TURN OUT TO BE A BAD PERSON.)
1) John Hodgman worked as a literary agent at Writers House in New York City for seven years before admitting to himself that he wanted to write.
2) He said that working as a literary agent was “a bold seven-year attempt to convince [himself he] didn’t want to be a writer. It was probably the most elaborate procrastination technique that [he] came up with to avoid writing.”
3) And he also said, “What I wanted was to not represent the creative people I loved, but instead to be the creative person. So I spent seven years doing a job that I knew, and representing authors, but misrepresenting myself to them and to the world and to myself. Because I didn’t want to do it. It wasn’t what I wanted to do, and I was wasting time and I knew it, and I was scared to do anything about it until I finally did.”
4) He is now known as an author, a humorist and a “famous, minor” actor.
5) He was a correspondent on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
6) He loves Jorge Luis Borges’s writing because Borges “wrote short, which was an inspiration to [him], a person who dislikes to write even complete sentences.”
7) He says things like, “I like writing a lot, but I don’t like writing a lot” and “Everyone wants to write a book. Very few people are able to do it.” And also, “I still have not written a novel or anything of that kind. Those people who are able to do that are very far and few between and often insane. Whereas most people who want to write books are not going to be able to do it.”
8) He gives excellent advice to aspiring writers. They include things like:
Write what you know.
Know interesting things.
Know what you know.
9) He wrote the best piece of writing advice I have ever read, in a McSweeney’s column from 2000:
“ … every moment that you hesitate, every moment that you do not write what you see before you EVERY DAY, is a moment that you become more and more the cubicle-jockey, temp-wage, toner sniffing, mutant foot-soldier that you currently are, instead of the beautiful, instinctive, coltish, Kung Fu master-artist that I know YOU CAN BE!”
The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book.
Naseem Hrab is a writer, a storyteller and a pretty good friend. Her comedy writing has appeared on McSweeney's Internet Tendency and The Rumpus. Naseem worked as a librarian for a time and now works in children's publishing. She lives in Toronto, Ontario.