Welcome to the blog, Randy! Could you tell us a little bit about your book?
On Making Off is a memoir of my first three years in New York. I had a professor in college who said that New York City is best experienced by the rich and by the young. I still don’t know about the rich part, but being young in New York City was a blast and something I think everyone could relate to on some level. This book follows my adventures through the city when I was in my 20’s. It focuses on making off-off Broadway theater, but also touches on heartbreak, substance abuse, and that endless quest to find yourself.
What led you to write this memoir?
I’ve been writing plays ever since I was 10, but I never explored writing prose, so I challenged myself to adapt a play I wrote called Armor of Wills. About a month into work on that book, I realized that I needed to take a step back from writing a novel and work my way into this art form more slowly. So I decided to write a memoir of a colorful time in my life. This allowed me to learn how to paint scenes, develop characters, and construct a story using very familiar material. Of course, once I started working on the memoir, a whole host of other lessons emerged. So many that I’ve decided to work on another memoir before turning my attention back to the novel. It will be material from 20 years ago, so it will still be familiar, but the memories will not be as complete.
How did you blend fictionalized elements with your history?
I recently started this conversation on Amazon that’s been exploring where the line between memoir and fiction exists. I wish I had started that conversation two years ago, because when I first started the book I was staying as close to the truth as possible. But as I got going, I began to discover that the story needed moments of exaggeration in order to better convey my ideas and thoughts about these memories. So I began building in these moments. It was always a deliberate choice that needed to satisfy two criteria: To add a moment of excitement or humor, and to further illuminate the reader's perception of my world view at that moment. Nothing is made up entirely, everything comes from a real experience, so it becomes impossible for the reader to discern where the exaggerations exist.
How do you get a funny thought to translate to written comedy?
I usually default to dialogue when I’m attempting to convey comedy as that is my strength, however, I’ve begun to learn that mining the narrator's ‘inside voice’ provides a tremendous cache of humor. Pulling out one or two sentences from the most private places often provides a very humorous point of view. Deeper, more thoughtful observations require more writing and more contemplation, but humor is usually shorter, and must be captured quickly. If I have a humorous thought, I usually write it down immediately, regardless if whether or not is belongs in that particular place.
What is your best advice on writing?
Make the time to do it. Listen to your writing. Make it better. Repeat.
Thanks so much for stopping by, Randy!
Randy Anderson is a performer, playwright. He founded The Beggars Group in 1999. Over the past 12 years he has produced over two dozen productions including; The Expatriates, Do It!, and Theadora, She Bitch of Byzantium. Plays he’s written include: New Year’s Resolutions, Homelessness Homosexuals and Heretics, Testing Average, Kill The President, Armor of Wills,and The Dwelling. Randy currently lives in New York City, where he writes, reasons, and reacts.
On Making Off is available in paperback and e-reader formats at www.onmakingoff.com
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