Welcome to the thirty-first of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, directors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. Today’s is with humour writer Matt Goldberg. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate the author further. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here.
Morgen: Hello, Matt. Please tell us something about yourself and how you came to be a writer.
Matt: My inclination is to say something quasi-cheesy such as “Writers are born, not made,” and there’s a kernel of truth to that. Writer has always been my favorite identity, as I don’t have enough game to be a professional athlete. I’ve been writing in some fashion since childhood, but have only written for publication in my own name since 2004. Me? I am a very serious person who is blessed and cursed with a hyperactive, often irreverent, sense of humor. I enjoy exploring these dualities, or more often, just letting them flow.
Morgen: Humour definitely helps with the pitfalls of the writing industry that we come in contact from time to time. What genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?
Matt: Humor, if that’s a genre.
Morgen: It is but not a recognised enough one. I went to Oxford Lit Fest recently and Michael Rosen was saying that they’d created the Roald Dahl (whose writing I love and have especially fond memories as my dad had met him a few times… I’m good at going off at tangents) Funny Prize, although it’s aimed at children. There was some controversy at Howard Jacobsen’s The Howard Finkler Question winning The Booker Prize because it was humorous (bah humbug).
Matt: Tangents make life interesting…as do all these Howards and Finklers…where were we? As a speaker and as a writer, that’s my gift, if sometimes a crutch. I employ that gift / crutch in books about word play, humorous essays, eclectic sports writing, poetry, and more.
Morgen: What have you had published to-date? How much of the marketing do you do?
Matt: I have published four books, which are—starting with the most recent: All That Twitters is Not Goldberg: Truthful Humor from a Vindicated Columnist – iUniverse, 2011, Wordapodia, Volume One: an Encyclopedia of Real Fake Words – iUniverse, 2010, Mixed Emotions; Poetry for the Open-Minded – Infinity, 2005 and So So Wisdom: The Misplaced Teachings of So So Gai – Infinity, 2004.
Morgen: Do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
Matt: No, I do not. I can’t answer the latter question, but do suspect that the right agent may be vital to one’s success—even my success. But, I’ve been lazy, and also fearful of going through the process of interviewing agents. Maybe, this interview can serve as a shortcut. If there are any (reputable, connected) agents who get what I do and want to represent me with great vigor and talent, please let me know.
Morgen: Are your books available as eBooks? If so what was your experience of that process? And do you read eBooks?
Matt: My latter two books—Wordapodia, Volume One and All That Twitters is Not Goldberg— are. I’m ashamed to say that I don’t own a Kindle or a Nook, or…Doesn’t Kindle-Nook sound Yiddish? I’m sure my e-book reading days are coming soon, though, if only for the vain exercise of reading my books on some kind of pad.
Morgen: That’s alright, you’re allowed not to have one. I bought the cheapest generic in case it ended up in a drawer and guess where it’s ended. What was your first acceptance and is being accepted still a thrill?
Matt: Human beings crave acceptance, and perhaps human writers especially do. Yes, that even applies to the iconoclasts and contrarians among us. Certainly, acceptance from the right sources still feels good. Our whole society now seems to be running off this concept with this strange, new world of likes, followers, fans…and maybe even disciples. Not sure if this is reassuring or rather pathetic, actually.
Morgen: Maybe a bit of both? Have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?
Matt: I deal rather poorly with them, but am learning to get better about trying things and not being dissuaded by a possible, lurking rejection. I probably know all the clichés about how to deal with rejection, but it’s been hard to re-wire my brain enough to embrace them. By the way, you will accept these answers, won’t you?
Morgen: Of course, you can say whatever you like, although I may refer to your earlier ‘Human beings crave acceptance’. What are you working on at the moment / next?
Matt: Lately, and extremely late-ly, I’ve been immersed in the more mundane marketing aspects of my writing career, including: polishing my website, adding blog posts, and also creating a newsletter. I continue to write my monthly Tip of the Goldberg anything-goes column for The Infinite Writer e-zine, and my weekly satiric (okay, fake) sports interview for philly2philly.com. I write sports articles for another publication as I wish, and am also planning a Volume Two of Wordapodia.
Morgen: Would that be http://www.philly2philly.com/sports/philly2phillycoms_phantasy_interviews by any chance?
Matt: Thanks for posting those links, Morgen.
Morgen: You’re very welcome.
Matt: Perhaps, I can also satirize the British soccer team’s exploits (lots of material there) one day.
Morgen: I don’t follow the sport (‘football’ over here) so feel free. Do you manage to write every day? What’s the most you’ve written in a day?
Matt: These days, I end up writing something almost every day, but I’m not all that regimented. As an insomniac without a true schedule, there’s not much of a difference between 3 AM and 3 PM. It’s hard to quantify what the most I’ve ever written in a day is, but I am a streak hitter, and can create a lot in a very short amount of time.
Morgen: I can when the email’s off. What is your opinion of writer’s block? Do you ever suffer from it? If so, how do you ‘cure’ it?
Matt: I don’t have any proven cures, but I am now better able to find the balance between taking it seriously (even, and especially, the humor) but not being crippled by perfectionism. Over the years, because I really do take this too seriously, I have been blocked in a million different ways. If I had any advice for people suffering from the same types of blocks, I would encourage each one not to take yourself too seriously, and to accord yourself the right to make mistakes…and some of those apparent mistakes may actually take you where you need to go.
Morgen: Not so thinly disguised as first drafts. Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Matt: Yes, and I believe that we should be allowed first drafts, and revisions, in our actions as well as our writing—provided what we say and do is not criminal or (irreversibly) hurtful in nature. As far as plotting is concerned, I’m not much of a plotter, or a plodder for that matter. I enjoy going with the flow, with an invisible hand guiding me. I also love when “happy accidents” (as I call them) come out of writing in real time.
Morgen: Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?
Matt: Other than my sculpted abs? I started a play/screenplay about 15 years ago that parodied my favorite movie. I wrote a few of the scenes in a day or so, and loved it, but something happened. Not sure it will be resurrected, which kind of saddens me, actually. Thanks for asking; I just may get to it now.
Morgen: Unseen sculpted abs, now that would be a waste. What’s your favourite / least favourite aspect of your writing life?
Matt: My favorite is the promise of making a living off my ideas, interests and skills. I am excited about all of the connections I have made already in what still is the infancy of my career —if not my life. Like many, I’m not in love with the uncertainty that it brings financially and otherwise. But that is the (small?) price to pay for the great freedom it affords.
Morgen: Absolutely. Although it would be lovely to have a second house in Brighton (or third in Cyprus), ticking over nicely in Northampton minus the day job (however much I like it) would be lovely. What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Matt: Be true to your own vision, and enjoy the journey and if you can, even the struggles. At the same time, be mindful of the business side of all this.
Morgen: Fantasy and reality (or historical/reality, humour/reality… you get the idea). What do you like to read?
Matt: I don’t read enough, quite frankly. I enjoy historical romances set in the Mesozoic Era. Not a well-known genre.
Matt: Okay, this is a new genre I may have just created in deference to my three year-old boy’s love of dinosaurs.
Morgen: Sounds like a good plan to me.
Matt: Other than these Mesozoic period pieces, I read novels, essays and the occasional bio. Sometimes, I try to take inspiration from inspirational books; sometimes, it even works.
Morgen: In which country are you based and do you find this a help or hindrance with letting people know about your work?
Matt: I’m in the U.S. I can call this a hindrance (well, it may be a hindrance to truly original, thought at times) but I shouldn’t complain about that.
Morgen: Are you on any forums or networking sites? If so, how invaluable do you find them?
Matt: I’m on Twitter (http://twitter.com/tipofgoldberg) just starting to get into social networking, and am happy that we connected thru LinkedIn. Thank you for that.
Morgen: You’re very welcome. (Apart from the odd hiccup), it’s a great site.
Matt: I find this whole world a little strange, but it’s starting to make some sense. There are some incredible tools out there at our disposal now. I’ve even started to tweet a little, and am exploring Facebook, cautiously for now. This all runs against the grain of a person who wrote (in truth) All That Twitters is Not Goldberg, yet I’m starting to see that I almost have to network in these fashions if I don’t want to be a world-class talent that nobody even reads.
Morgen: Unless a writer writes for pleasure, I think that’s what we’re all after. For me certainly, I’d rather someone pay 99p for something and enjoy it than £6.99 and feel it wasn’t value for money (which of course I’m hoping wouldn’t be the case). Where can we find out about you and your work?
Matt: Please visit www.tipofthegoldberg.com for most of the answers. You’ll find a little of everything about my books (they make terrific gifts, by the way), speaking engagements, sports writing, custom writing and blogs.
Morgen: Is there anything else you’d like to mention or another question that you would have liked to be asked?
Matt: Yes. How’s your tennis game doing? Thanks for asking. I’m getting a higher percentage of my first serves in this year, but my net game has been quite erratic. On the other hand, my backhand—actually, it’s on the same hand, just the other side of it…er, Thank You, Morgen!
Morgen: My pleasure (yes, really!). My tennis, by the way, is like my bowling and pool – I start off well and go downhill or vice versa. Thanks again, it’s been fun.
Matthew J. (Matt) Goldberg, an author and speaker from Cherry Hill, NJ, loves to entertain people through his writing and public speaking. Laughs, Smiles and just enough Wisdom reach his audience through the magic of his written and spoken words. (His unwritten and unspoken words never did much for anyone.) Author of four books, including Wordapodia, Volume One: An Encyclopedia of Real Fake Words, Matt is a thinking man’s (and woman’s) humorist who offers a unique blend of stand-up comedy and inspiration. He is left-of-center, eclectic and a die-hard sports fan, and truly has a heart of Gold-berg, and loves to bring smiles to the world. Along with writing, Matt’s greatest joy is reading and goofing around with his (almost) three-year-old son, Benny. For more information, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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