Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Much To Be Thankful For

I want to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. There's much to be thankful, friends, a warm home, a career that I enjoy. The list could go on and on. It's a time to sit down and reflect on all the good things that are right in front of you. To focus on what is really important.

 Be well and enjoy the day.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Focusing On What You Want

Years ago I read a book called "The Secret," by Rhonda Byrne. It changed my life. Its simple message of focusing on what you want and not on what you don't want is something I can relate to. I spend just as much time as everyone else complaining and kvetching about what's wrong in my life. Really getting into it. Focusing on it. Getting mad about it. What I should be doing, and what the book keeps repeating, is focusing on what you want and making it happen.

This simple theme can be applied to my personal life but also to my professional life as well. For many years I worked in the field of advertising and wrote gags on the side, on weekends and evenings. Now I write full time for many different cartoonists. I've developed a routine, a regular schedule, of who I write for on which days, sending gags on a regular basis to many people. I need this structure, but I also need a direction - I need to have a goal - and a plan to get there.

This writing business is full of rejection, but it's also full of accomplishment and seeing your work in print and/or online. You try things. Some work. Some don't. It's important for me to constantly re-evaluate what works for me and what doesn't. What's easy for me to do and what isn't. And, then it's important to focus on what I want - on the goals I've set - and perhaps give up some of the projects that don't work.  When you figure out what it is that you really want you can make definite plans to get there. And, when you finally are working towards this goal you'll know it and the still, small voice inside you will be saying, 'This is what I should be doing.'

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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

A Few Things I've Learned

A Few Things I've Learned As I Write Cartoon Gags Everyday:

1. Cartoon ideas breed more cartoon ideas. Just looking at published cartoons gives you ideas for new cartoons. It's very important to familiarize yourself with the cartoons in the newspapers or magazines you want to write for. The situations and gags will lead to new situations and new gags.

2. I write about what's easiest for me to write about. I use my background, interests and opinions to create new ideas all the time. For instance:

a. I spend a lot of time alone writing gags. Therefore, I find it easy to write gags about prisoners. Same reason for being able to write about being alone on a desert island.
b. I come from a crazy family and can therefore easily write gags about therapy.
c. I've been married  a long time and have two grown children. I can easily write about husbands and wives and all the craziness that goes along with long term relationships.
d. I see doctors more than occasionally. I can easily write gags about doctors and imaginary illness.
e. And, the lists go on and on.

3. I've begun to realize the importance of writing about the things that drive me crazy, for instance:

a. People trying to sell me things over the phone
b. The lack of help I often receive from customer service representatives
c. Rude customers in restaurants
d. The way bosses intimidate their workers

These issues are ripe for humor.

4. I've learned to get my ideas on paper, take a break and then go back to my ideas to try to create something meaningful.

5.  It's really important to try to familiarize yourself with what's trending in technology, fashion, entertainment, etc. Many publications want their cartoons to be about what's on trend now.

6. It's very important to get your work out there and let people know what you do.

7. It's also very important to meet the people who can hire you.

8. Writing a blog is a very effective way of communicating on social media.

That's all for now. There's a lot of other things I've learned but I'll go into that in other entries.

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Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Valuable Website For You To Check Out

As a follower of the New Yorker magazine for many years, I read every issue cover to cover. I also study the cartoons. Going through every cartoon in its collection, from 1925, has made me a better gag writer. For those who read the articles and study the cartoons, there is a terrific website I'd like to make you aware of if you don't know about it already.

Michael Maslin, a long time New Yorker cartoonist, has created, since 2008, a very informative section of his website called Ink Spill, which gives information about past and present New Yorker cartoonists and their work. In it, you'll find news about book signings, exhibits, interviews and appearances. You'll find a short bio section and links to the cartoonists' websites and blogs. There's a library section which highlights books written and/or illustrated by the cartoonists. There's also a section of essays about the magazine and its cartoonists.

I read Ink Spill every day (as it's updated constantly) and I find it very informative and well-written.  Because I write so many cartoon gags with the New Yorker in mind, I find it very helpful to find out more about the cartoons' creators and their processes.

You can find Ink Spill at