Famous Writer Tells You All

Famous Writer Tells You All

2 Minute Or Less Read Time

On the road for $$$

For fifteen years I stood in front of audiences of teens and started every talk I gave with the following question/offer,

“What do you want to know?”


“You can ask me any question on any subject in the universe.”

Then I’d explain, “I’m old and famous and have written a bunch of books and I have nothing to lose in answering you honestly — So, let’s go. What do you want to know?”

To me this always seemed like the safest way to assure that these kids might enjoy and get something out of our time together.

I mean, this way it would be about them, right?

And about what they wanted to hear/learn/understand and not me just standing up there carrying on like some asshole about my fabulous career and genius and my Corvette and houses and swimming pool and gorgeous women wanting to touch the hem of my garments and how fun it is/was to be me.

I’d usually be getting paid a fair amount to be there and to talk as an “enrichment” activity, something out of the ordinary school day of testing and curriculum and what-the-fuck-ever that daily dance involved.

So, again, I’d simply ask, “Whata ya wanna know?”

And this approach wouldn’t, shouldn’t have been a surprise to anyone because I’d always tell my hosts, before I arrived, and again before I’d start to talk, that my presentation would be based on Q&A, on anything the kids or teachers wanted to discuss.

And here’s the kicker: I rarely, and I mean RARELY ever got anything even remotely approaching a reasonable or intelligent question:

Not from the straight “A” National Honor Society kids.

Not the Special Ed. kids.

Not from the jocks, goths, stoners, suck-ups, bullies, wimps, mean girls, cheerleaders, motor-heads… (You getting the picture here?)

Not from ANYONE, EVER including the teachers, teachers’ aides, cafeteria workers, custodians, coaches, athletic directors, principals, vice-principals, nor any other administrators (school or district) or from any employees or other adults in my audiences.

In other words, at these institutions built for the specific purpose of educating, most of the time, almost always, nobody ever wanted or felt they needed to ask me anything about anything.

Did they think they knew all they needed to know about anything/everything already?

Did they feel that I wouldn’t know or have an answer for whatever it was they asked?

Sometimes I’d get a smart-ass question, actually not so much “sometimes” as frequently.

And I’d joke back and everyone would laugh and the room would loosen-up a tiny bit, but not even this would open up the space enough for an intelligent or sincere or meaningful query.

And now I’m sometimes asked by other authors or friends, “Do you miss getting out on the road, visiting schools and meeting your readers?”

And I want to answer, “Are you shitting me?”

But instead I say, “Not really,” happy to be asked a semi-reasonable question at long last.

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