WARNING: This is an interview with an author for adults. Both the interview and the links from this interview contian adult language.
Daniel O’Brien is an assistant editor over at cracked.com. His column “Dan Dan Revolution” keeps me and a whole lot of other people across the internet laughing on a weekly basis. Some of my recent favorites of his are 5 Great Book Ideas ‘The Man’ is Too Scared to Publish and 5 Steps to Writing Successful Erotic Fiction. After the interview, you should click on the links and check this guy out (unless you're already a devoted fan like me). I guarantee that if you’re drinking milk, it’s going to be coming out of your nose when you’re reading his columns. And whatever you do, don’t miss his Storyboards from Michael Bay’s The Great Gatsby. A part of me really wants to see that movie idea come true. I know it’s wrong, but the heart wants what it wants. You can also “follow the shit” out of Daniel O’Brien on Twitter. It’s a too rare talent for a writer to consistently keep his readers in stitches, yet Daniel O’Brien manages with apparent ease.
And now Daniel O'Brien faces the 7 Questions:
Question Seven: What are your top three favorite books?
This is tough. The Great Gatsby, definitely, even though that's the right answer. High Fidelity, by Nick Hornby and...let's say The Road by Cormac McCarthy, but I can't guarantee I'll have those same answers if you ask me again some other day.
Question Six: How much time do you spend each week writing? Reading?
Lots. Monday-Friday, I'm on the clock from around 8am to 6 or 7, and that time is always spent either reading, editing or writing. Then maybe an hour of each at night. I spent a lot more time on my weekends reading, but it's almost always the relaxing, mindless comic book kind of writing.
Question Five: What was the path that led you to publication?
Making people laugh, first and foremost. That was it, from the beginning, making people laugh and telling stories. Getting published meant reaching an audience that was bigger than my group of friends, so it meant making more people laugh, and that was all it was about for me.
Question Four: Do you believe writers are born, taught or both? Which was true for you?
Both, I suppose, though I don't know that I'd necessarily use the word "taught." I think being a writer can be LEARNED, but "taught" feels like it implies a teacher and a set path that leads to being a writer, and I don't believe either of those are essential. When I say being a writer can be learned, I mean that it can happen if you practice, by reading and writing, almost constantly and for a very, very long time.
So, on that end, being a writer is something you need to learn, but you need to be born hungry and hardworking to chase down and absorb the lessons.
Question Three: What is your favorite thing about writing? What is your least favorite thing?
My favorite thing is starting something brand new. My least favorite thing is abandoning something, or recognizing that I'm not yet ready to tell a story they way I want to tell it.
Question Two: What one bit of wisdom would you impart to an aspiring writer? (feel free to include as many other bits of wisdom as you like)
Read and write every day. That's the standard advice for a reason.
And don't just write bullshit every day, I don't mean "write letters" or write "today by day was [blah blah blah]," I mean serious, focused writing with a purpose. You won't become a better piano player by sitting in front of a keyboard hitting random keys for a few hours, or playing a song you already know, so you can't expect to become a better writer just by literally writing words down, no matter how often you do it.
Question One: If you could have lunch with any writer, living or dead, who would it be? Why?
Bob Newhart. I'd like to tell him what an impact he's had on me and I'd like to sit and pick his brain and ask him questions for as long as he'd let me.
Actual Interview Date: 10/14/2009