Interview with Dorothy Rosby- Author of 'Tis the Season to Feel Inadequate
What is the book about? ’Tis the Season to Feel Inadequate is a collection of humorous essays about the stress we put on ourselves in the name of celebrating. All of our holidays, special occasions and not-so special occasions can have this effect on us. I start with Christmas and work my way through the year because no holiday makes me feel more inadequate than Christmas—except maybe Nude Recreation Week.
What’s your writing process? I write a humor column and blog and it seems everything I write for either one of them follows a predictable pattern from “crap” to “less crappy” to “the deadline is here so I’m sending this whether it’s crap or not.” I have an idea I love. I’m excited, inspired and motivated — for about half an hour. But sooner or later everything degenerates into work. This is the moment where I could succumb to a serious case of writer’s block or a rousing game of computer solitaire. But my deadline is looming so I write until there’s a beginning, an ending and around 500 properly punctuated, grammatically correct but still fairly crappy words in the middle. I’m not happy with what I’ve written, but I could send it off to my editors if I had to. At this point I can start polishing, moving things around, exchanging one thing for another. I know a lot of writers hate revision, but for me, this part of the process is so fun that if I hadn’t had deadlines for the past 26 years, I’d still be working on my first column.
You do a lot of self-deprecating humor? Why do you prefer that? Generally I stick to self-deprecating humor—the kind that makes fun of me instead of someone else, because it’s kinder than some forms of humor. I think that’s a relief in a world that’s increasingly divided. Plus when you decide to spend your life examining your faults and foibles, you’ll never run out of ideas. At least I haven’t.
But the best part is it makes what you write relatable to your audience. I often have my readers telling me they have made the same mistake or felt the same way I did. Self-deprecating humor actually makes your reader look at themselves. You tell your story and it reminds them of their own. I once wrote about leaving the gas station with the nozzle in the tank. That’s pretty embarrassing, so I was relieved to have a reader tell me she’d done the same thing.
Can humor help in these difficult times? Humor helps in so many ways. Research has shown that laughter boosts immunity, lowers stress hormones and decreases pain. But even if that weren’t true, it just makes life more fun.
During these crazy times, it has some added benefits. It gets our mind of things so we can return
to whatever we’re called to do refreshed. And laughter is so physical that it releases tension and helps us relax. More importantly, I think it can give us all some perspective. I remember early in the pandemic, I was looking in the mirror and fussing about the way I looked in a mask. Then the silliness of me worrying about that while this horrible thing was happening made me laugh at myself. I wound up writing a humor column about mask wearing.
Do you ever get writer’s block? If so, how do you overcome it? I really don’t. I’m not saying it’s not real, but as someone who’s been self-syndicating a humor column in the West and Midwest for more than 20 years, I’m saying I better not get it. And the way I stave it off is by a daily discipline of writing—even if I don’t like what I’m writing. Occasionally I do just have to get up and walk away to clear my head. But that can be dangerous if I overdo it. Writing is the only cure I know for writer’s block.