Internet phenomenon Jenny Lawson is all set to conquer the book world. How she handles success will probably be hilarious.
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Ask the queen of female humor bloggers about the secret to her success, and she’ll start talking mice. Stuffed mice. Jenny Lawson has a bunch of them in her rural central Texas home office. “When I started I was talking about things people weren’t talking about,” she says. “Like Sasquatch and taxidermied mice wearing people clothes.”
Fans of The Bloggess, Lawson’s award-winning blog, know all too well of the 38-year-old’s obsession with taxidermy. But it’s not just the mice they come for. Lawson is hilarious. Her off-kilter commentary on marriage and motherhood, her weird stunts and her brushes with celebrity—such as her one-sided public feud with William Shatner—have made her an Internet star.
Since she launched The Bloggess in 2006 she’s attracted millions of page views a month, more than 200,000 Twitter followers and fans as fabulous as Jeri Ryan and Felicia Day and authors Neil Gaiman and Augusten Burroughs. Vanity Fair called Lawson “hellaciously funny,” Marie Claire said she’s “snarky, witty, totally inappropriate,” and Burroughs, the author of Running With Scissors, said, “When I was funny, I wasn’t this funny.”
Lawson gives plenty of credit to her readers. “I have incredibly funny commenters,” she says. “The comment section is invariably funnier than the post itself.”
It’s not a knock against Lawson to say she’s right. According to Alexa.com, the site’s visitors are college-educated moms ages 35-44, and judging by their comments they could be humor writers, too. The Bloggess is where the fun moms are.
This week Lawson enters the literary world with Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: (A Mostly True Memoir). Like The Bloggess, the book mixes mortifying real-life experience with hilarious running commentary.
DAME spoke with Lawson while she paced the rooms of her house, stopping only to dust her taxidermied animals, including her famous mice.
Interview with a Bloggess
I had a mom blog on the Houston Chronicle, and I would get in trouble for the things I wrote. I wasn’t allowed to curse, and I felt a little stifled. I started The Bloggess in 2006 for three friends who’d think it was funny. I think my first post was simply the f-word. It felt so good to be able to say it out loud.
When I saw someone wearing a T-shirt that had my face on it.
A lot of people say, “Well, she’s a mom. She has a vagina. You must be a mommy blogger.” Once they get into it they realize there are just as many guys reading this blog. It’s a humor blog rather than a mommy blog.
Write for yourself because that’s the only way you’ll never get bored. Find your voice. Don’t be afraid of getting negative comments because everyone gets negative comments. Find likeminded people who are already blogging and go to their sites and leave funny, awesome comments. The people who read them will come back to your blog.
I have a mom blog with the Houston Chronicle that I’ve considered shutting down just because my daughter, she’s seven, and she’s at a stage where I don’t feel entirely comfortable sharing her life. When she was a baby it was like, whatever, she’s a baby. Now that she has her own personality it’s hard for me to share the funny stories. I think, “Will this be used against her?”
Something will go viral and it will end up on the front page of Reddit or something. If you’re on the front page of Reddit you’re going to get some really nasty comments. For the most part, that doesn’t bother me, but I have gotten some violent ones. When that happens it makes me think, “Oh, maybe this isn’t such a good idea.” Then I write another post and those people go away, and it’s back to normal.
I would do everything exactly the same. Every time I think I’ve made a terrible mistake something great comes out of it. It’s like in the book. All of the things that I wanted to pretend never happened are the best parts.
He doesn’t have a problem with it. He doesn’t really read the blog. I don’t think he’s read all of the book. He doesn’t really care about any of that. He just wants me to be happy. But now it’s gotten to the point where the people he works with, they read the blog and they’ll come up to him and say something. He’s like, “How do you know what? Who are you? I don’t know your last name. Why are we having this conversation?”
Exactly. Do your homework, dude. I have an audio book. Just put it in the car. He’s like, “I’m sure it’s fine.”
Every time I think I’ve made a terrible mistake something great comes out of it.Jenny Lawson AKA The Bloggess
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