I’ve just self-published a collection of my short comic writings, titled Why Are You Telling Me This?. The collection spans about forty years, dating from just after my high school graduation, right up to the present. This isn’t my first self-publication — I’ve done so with three other works. Creating something and seeing it to completion, especially without outside interference, can be a satisfying process, but an uphill trudge, especially when, upon completion, word needs to be spread that the new work indeed exists, even with no “real” publisher to provide back-up or publicity. Hence, this message today.
With the gift of 20/40 hindsight, it appears that I’ve wanted to be a writer since the age of 8 or so. It was roughly around that time, while fending off peer pressure (from, of all people, my peers) to indulge in various hijinx involving fire crackers and ill-gotten candy bars, I began attempting to write stories that actually had a beginning, middle, and end. I never really wanted to do much of anything else as an occupation. And I don’t know why. Oh, sure, for a number of childhood years I wanted to be an astronomer, and for the next number of years I fantasized about filming wildlife documentaries on the savannahs of East Africa (Tsavo National Park in Kenya, to be precise).
Once those fever dreams broke, it was back to writing — especially writing that was meant to be funny. Again, I don’t know why. While still in elementary school, whenever a teacher would give the class a short writing assignment to undertake right then and there, I’d try to think of a something that would make her laugh — or at least smile — as she read it. Even as an eight or nine-year-old, this was very important to me. After handing in my story and returning to my desk, I’d watch her intently as she sat and read it. If my writing got a smile or chuckle out of her, I considered that a thrilling victory. I continued to write silly little stories and skits ever since, but I worked hard to get every word just right.
I had often thought of selecting what I considered to be my finest comic pieces to put into a collection of sorts — perhaps just for me, maybe to show to friends, but uncertain about unleashing them to the world at large. Each time, the finished product — all neatly typed, proofread, and professionally printed and bound at Kinko’s — would ultimately remain nestled in one of my desk drawers. Submitting to a publisher was — and still is — both a tempting yet rather repulsive idea; it’s the same with literary agents, for reasons I won’t get into now.
My college years and beyond sparked my interest in writing comedy screenplays (which I still do, often with my British writing collaborator Kelly Marie Thompson). More courses, seminars, and adult school night writing classes followed, taught by the top teachers in New York.
There is a drawback to writing humor, however. As Dorothy Parker once wrote, “There are those who, in their pride and their innocence, dedicate their careers to writing humorous pieces. Poor dears, the world is stacked against them from the start, for everybody in it has the right to look at their work and say, ‘I don’t think that’s funny’.”
I haven’t exactly dedicated all of my career to writing humor. I also write non-fiction books about pop culture and entertainment history — five published so far, with a sixth on the way — and I’ve been published in magazines such as Nostalgia Digest and History Magazine.
But writing humor and comedy has been a big part of my life. So, with a rare dose of self-assuredness, and a strong dose of trepidation, I humbly announce the publication of Why Are You Telling Me This?
Upon these pages you’ll find stories populated with eccentric characters in absurd situations; from old friends in a New York deli speaking in Old Testament-style English, to Edgar Allen Poe shopping for a lawnmower, to a murder mystery in a 1920s vaudeville theatre, with a motley assortment of entertainers as the suspects. There are also snippets of “lost episodes” of classic TV programs (as I would imagine them). Some pieces are only a page long, others considerably longer. Some are short stories, others are strictly dialogue sketches, and still others are harder to define, but nonetheless just might bring a smile to the reader’s face — if not a chuckle, laugh, guffaw, or fatal coronary event.
Why Are You Telling Me This? is now available (and reasonably priced) on Amazon.com, in both paperback and Kindle versions.
Okay, that’s the pitch. The rest is up to you. Here’s the link!
Thank you and stay safe!