"We can’t escape the world; we bring it to our writing."
Explaining the last 20-30 years is going to be a test of our storytelling powers
Earlier this week, a journalist asked me a few questions about getting into comedy during this bizarre year (hopefully my words will make it into a piece this weekend), and that made me realise that a lot of the set I’m delivering at the Funny Women Stage Awards semi-final tonight is about wanting to explain this unique time in our lives to my two-year-old niece when she’s grown up.
[Toddler runs are so cute and not at all aerodynamic!!]
Stand-up comedy is the creative medium most able to react quickly to current events. I’ve found myself adding references to the limitations of the laptop screen I’ll be viewed on during my set. It’s inevitable that changing circumstances and the news and our responses to it underpin so much comedy.
It isn’t just 2020 that I want to make sense of [for a possible future reader who may not in fact be interested!], but the whole of the last two decades, and just how much the internet, the sped-up news cycle and the what constant bath of information that we spend our lives in now is doing to us.
As much as a pandemic in 1995, pre-internet, sounds horrifying, I do sometimes wonder what it would have been like to spend my teens and early adulthood without it. Would I have read more books, written more?
Without the internet, I might never have stumbled upon the poet Yanyi [pronounced yin-YEE according to his website, LOVE it when people make that clear]. He writes a beautiful newsletter called The Reading, where he answers creative problems, such as how to overcome writer’s block - and that’s where I’ve taken the subject line of today’s newsletter from.
"We can’t escape the world; we bring it to our writing." What a lovely response to a writer suffering from a syndrome so common to creative people: blaming yourself for your own writer’s block.
Yanyi gently persuades the writer to look outside from their own head, and see how the world is taking up a lot of our precious mental energy right now. Look at it. Just look at it for a second. It is a total horrifying mess that looks to be without end; in fact, some elections in November might well make it all worse.
Wei Ting @intewig@JellyfishReview FWIW, I really loved @yanyi___ 's letter today: "We don’t just write to express ourselves. We write to be in conversation with each other. Through time. Over continents and languages. Beyond life and death." https://t.co/V5Gyb8g5YB
And it’s not just 2020 that’s increasingly far too much, but all the change from the analogue to the digital. The last two decades have been nothing but change. How can we truly square that with goals that could span years, as books often do?
I came to the conclusion that there’s only one thing that’s really within our control: how kind our inner voice is to us. Changing that takes time, and is tough, but it changes everything.
Always nice to be listed
Hi, I’m on this list and I like speaking at things [here’s a whole page on that very thing!], please hire me and pay me to do so.
Also, if you’re on a list like this and you think there’s a name or two missing, say something. I did.
One thing I love about this list is how much it has grown from its initial figure.
Whomst among us will be able to explain this?
Recently caught up with Season 6 of Schitt’s Creek and it’s an incredible end to a series.
Just wanted to share the best screenshot with you.
I’m giving some media training for charities & non-profits via Media Trust next week
I’ll sort these presenting and growing your audience podcast masterclasses for Sept / Oct:
I’m running an Angel Comedy writing gym session in early October! Keep an eye on the Facebook group or indeed my socials for more info!
Links links and tweets and so on
Caroline Nelson @CGNelsonwritesAre there any lines of poetry that you think about on a regular basis?
If you’ve not heard of Lucy Kalanithi, then you’ll thank yourself for finding out more (and When Breath Becomes Air is an incredible read)
I agree with the No.1 Roy in this ranking, and I miss Succession
It’s not just Pret that’s at risk: Remote Work Is Killing the Hidden Trillion-Dollar Office Economy (but surely capitalism’s *thing* is sorting these kinds of issues out?)
The solution? Obviously this:
That’s all from me, will write again soooooon! x