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5 things I swiped from Kelly Oxford about writing

I didn’t spend much time wondering what Kelly Oxford might be like in person prior to attending her book signing this evening.

Twitter screenshot Kelly Oxford convo

The tweet in which Kelly explains that she wanted the signing to be at the Chapters where she spent a whole lotta time when she lived in Calgary. She told us during the Q&A that she spent full days writing there. Too much coffee, not enough bananas. Or something like that.

I figured she was some combination of the witty, grumpy and kinda famous character she is on social media plus the creative but bossy kid she writes about in the early chapters of her book.

I was surprised when she responded to my tweeted inquiry about why she’d be signing at a suburban Chapters (like, why not the bar by my house instead?).

And then totally delighted when she recognized me after I asked a question and remembered I was bringing along some members of my comedy posse.

While I really wish we’d all got to ask more questions (about her writing process, her Twitter strategy, her joke-writing techniques), she was a pleasure to listen to and just so darn nice along with being a talented interview subject. Plus I think I picked up a few things.

Here, paraphrased from my notes and discussion with friends and strangers in the book-signing lineup, is some of the knowledge Oxford dropped.

5 Things I learned from Kelly Oxford about Writing

  1. If you can’t remember something, don’t worry about trying to write it down. If you can’t remember it, what’s the chances someone else will?
  2. The title of your book (screenplay, sitcom, whatever) is important! It’s got serious selling power. Everybody wanted to option her book because the title, Everything is Perfect When You’re A Liar because the title was so good, Oxford joked. (I have a feeling that her cred as a writer had a little to do with it too.)
  3. Try out jokes and premises for your writing on Twitter. You might recognize some tweets within the pages of her book because she uses it to bounce some ideas around.
  4. Oxford’s book is in some ways an extension of her blog.
  5. A blog and a book are different though. A blog should be more personal than commercial and doesn’t have to be full of truth (though hers was pretty intimate in the early days and she admits there’s some unsavoury dirt out there still). On a blog though, you should get close to your audience without revealing every single thing. Tell people the extra, behind-the-scenes stories that surround what you do, not the stuff they can see in person. Give people the chance to relate to you and become addicted to your voice.

Oxford also touched on other interesting tidbits like how she became great pals with Jimmy Kimmel and his soon-to-be wife (he tried to hire Oxford, but she turned him down due to having too many big projects already going, their friendship budded anyway when she visited LA), how moving to LA was a great career move (she doesn’t think she would be working as hard if she were still a big fish in Calgary’s little pond [not a flood joke]) and her stand-up comedy aspirations (she’s got none: “No… that’s such an art”).

I decided to let Kelly Oxford be the saucy-looking lead just this one time and I would be the goofy sidekick.

I decided to let Kelly Oxford be the saucy-looking lead just this one time and I would be the goofy sidekick.


1 Comment so far

  1. Reblogged this on The Sieve and commented:
    This is a good synopsis of the Kelly Oxford Q&A and “Everything is Perfect When You’re a Liar” book signing I attended last night, courtesy of my fellow Calgary-based writer Zoey Duncan.
    All I’ll add is that during the Q&A Oxford recommended @bazecraze and @juliussharpe as other funny tweeps to follow.


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