Jarod Kintz is…well, unique. Stop right now and read his bio and you’ll catch a glimpse of what I mean. I recently had the honor of reading his latest book, The Mandrake Hotel and Resort (to violence if necessary). My first thought?
I thought I was a funny guy, and it would be terrific if I could write for SNL like Jack Handey. So on the plane I started scribbling down my random thoughts, similar to Handey’s Deep Thoughts.
It turns out that I wasn’t a funny guy, at least not consistently. I was a terrible writer, and most of my musings were not amusing at all. Looking back on them makes me cringe, but slowly I started getting better.
Back then if I wrote down ten things, only one would be funny. Now my writing has significantly improved, and for every ten things I write down, two things will be good. Well, maybe that’s an overstatement.
Are you a writer because you can’t breathe without writing? Do you feel that you’d actually die if you couldn’t write? Or do you just do it because you can’t think of anything else to do?
I write compulsively. I write while I drive, while I eat, and yes, even while I sleep. I always have a pen and paper on my person so that as soon as a random idea hits me, I can scribble it down.
My handwriting is so sloppy because I have to write insanely fast to catch the phrasing exactly as it flashes in my mind. Just to make things interesting, I sometimes write backwards, so my writing can only be read in a mirror. Also to spice it up I switch my writing hands, with the superstitious belief that I’ll jog a different side of my brain and tap into a new part of my subconscious that I have yet to explore.
Then at the end of the day I take all these folded up pieces of paper and I type them all out, meticulously making sure what I typed is exactly what I wrote out by hand. Then I go through all my thoughts one by one to make sure no thought was overlooked or skipped. Then I edit it, save it in both a Word format and a PDF format, and email the PDF document to myself at two different email accounts. Then I check what I emailed to what I have saved on my computer, and then again check that with what I have written on my scraps of paper. Then after a few weeks I do a copyright order and I print out a copy and check each and every thought against what I have saved just to make sure there is no glitch in the system. You can imagine how time consuming it is to be so neurotic, but if I didn’t do this my OCD would keep me awake at night. Not that it would matter because my writing already wakes me up at night, as I can groggily scribble down nonsensical dream dialogues as they occur to me during REM.
Are there certain writers or books that have primarily influenced you as writer?
I have been influenced by many books and many writers. It is a long list. I think everything I read influences me in one way or another. Some things I read I love, and that impacts me positively. Some things I read I hate, and that impacts me negatively. Either way, as I grow in wisdom, my writing is always maturing in different ways.
Do you believe in love at first sight? How about love after forty years – still love or just a certain type of apathy?
To be honest, I am not sure exactly how I feel about love. This may seem very absurd when you consider that one of my favorite things to write are love quotes. Love is a central theme in The Mandrake, and in the next book I am going to introduce Dora J. Arod and have her also publish a book of love quotes. I’m working on those right now. I believe there are many types of love: Parent to child, lover to lover, person to passion/hobby, etc, but even though my love quotes tend to be absurd and nonsensical, I am not a cynic about love. I guess I do believe in love at first sight, but I also think that love can grow and mature as those two people develop and their lives intertwine with age.
I think you’re hilarious, in both in your book, The Mandrake Hotel & Resort (to violence if necessary), and on your website. Have you always been this funny? Has it helped with the ladies?
The funny thing about being funny is that in real life, I’m not all that funny. I’m rather serious and thoughtful. I am quiet and have no problem sitting in silence. Recently I tried stand-up comedy, and though my material was solid, I bombed miserably. I have a rather unapproachable look, and being funny in person has a lot to do with how likeable you are. I’m unfortunately not very fun to look at, and I’m not particularly animated with my body language, so I think I’m going to stick to writing humor, rather than performing comedy. As to the women, it is my understanding that the ladies love comedians. And now I’m aware why I get no love. If I were invisible I’d get more looks from females than I do now.
Tell me about your writing process. Are you a planner? Do you have a schedule?
Other than my daily grind of writing all my good thoughts down, and then a writing session at the end of the day where I try to crank out some fun stuff, I don’t really have a schedule. But then again when your life is tyrannically ruled by writing, and it consumes all your time, your schedule is perpetually full. I don’t know what I’m doing tomorrow, but I know that I’ll get a lot of writing done. Sometimes I wish I could just shut my brain off and take a break for five or ten minutes.
How do you define success as a writer? Are you there yet?
Success is a constantly shifting target, and what I view as success right now may change in a few years when I dwarf my current goals. I don’t view writing success in terms of total books sold, which is great for me because as an anti-bestseller, I’d sure be depressed if I thought only of Amazon rankings.
That being said, I am extremely jealous of wealthy authors, and I wish they’d all slowly get dementia and lose their ability to write so my reading demographic could grow exponentially.
Just kidding. That sounded a little crazy. What I meant to say is I wish they’d all get dementia immediately, so the transfer of wealth could be abrupt and complete.
You are a self-published author. Please tell us what your biggest hurdles have been along the way. Do you have any words of wisdom for new writers? What do you love about self-publishing?
I wish I had publishing wisdom to impart to new writers, but the truth is, I don’t know what to say. Self-publishing is great, because it’s opened the path to any aspiring writer with absolutely no gates to unlock.
However, the number of books being written and published is astonishingly large, and rapidly increasing, so the questions are how to differentiate yourself and how to direct attention to your work.
Those are the questions every author is trying to answer, whether you are a first-time writer or you are an established author. It’s really a marketing issue, and I think the best advice I could give is to one, write something you’d like to read, and two, become as visible as possible. This means making yourself accessible to as many people as you possibly can.
And if you can figure out how to get people interested in your work, then I’d be interested in seeing you develop amnesia and lose your ability to write.
But seriously, the thing is to write interesting stuff, and then get it out there to as many people as possible. You can be the best writer in the world, but if nobody is reading your work, then there is no difference between your masterpiece and what doesn’t even exist because it hasn’t been written.
The author’s work doesn’t stop when the book is finished. That’s where the real story begins. So you wrote a book, that’s great. Now comes the hard part. Now you have to market it and make people want to read it. And obviously since I am not a bestseller, I am not qualified to tell you how to go about doing that.
Describe your audience.
I don’t really know my demographic. I used to think it was only women. But then I realized that that’s only because women are proportionally larger readers than men. Men also enjoy my work, when one of them actually stops playing videogames long enough to read a few sentences.
I think all ages seem to like my work, so honestly I have no idea who my demographic is, other than people not suffering from dementia.
Then again, maybe all my book sales are coming from one guy with amnesia who keeps buying my books and forgetting that he has already bought them many times before.