A Funny Thing Happened To Me On My Way To Quit Writing


If there’s a universal truth among every person it is that they want to matter; to their loved ones and to themselves. For creative types, the ones who paint, sculpt, play, conduct or write like me, we want to express ourselves in the most real way we know, our art.

I’ve been writing almost every day of my life since I was eight-years-old. I’ve written four books, published two, and worked as a journalist on and off for over twenty years. I turned forty-five less than 2 months ago but I almost quit writing earlier this year because I thought I didn’t matter.
Writing online is a full contact, brutally damaging intellectual activity. After a decade doing so, I’ve noticed that not being able to look people in the face when you critique them makes it easier to be ridiculously cruel and ultimately very dishonest.

At the beginning of the summer, the first week of June, I did something to salvage my love affair with writing.

I became a stand-up comedian.


It’s the best artistic decision I’ve ever made because now, I can see people in the face when they tell me I suck.

I’ve always liked comedy. I listened to comedy albums of many famous comedians growing up. Once my parents got cable television in the early 1980s, I watched any comedy special that aired. I grew to admire people who could stand before an audience and make them laugh, just like the musicians I also idolized. I thought comedy and music were the greatest forms of artistic expression because the audience feedback is immediate and very organic.

Writing is different, especially on the internet. You spend hours, sometimes days writing something, and finally after crucial, gut-wrenching edits, you hit send. The reaction is also fast, but I’ve learned it’s not always true.

Many studies have been done about online bullying or “trolling” and while an argument can be made that it’s more sociological than psychological, I’ve come to my own conclusion that understanding why people behave the way they do over the computer is a lost cause. Some people just want to watch the world burn and take others into the fire.

Twenty-two years ago, at the age of 23, I took to a comedy club stage for the first time. Over a span of about 15 months I did dozens of open mikes, five to fifteen minute comedy sets, then didn’t pursue it further. I thought I was just a writer.

Earlier this year, to both break through writer’s block and find out why I had become so disillusioned, I talked with several comedian friends I know through the internet. Surprisingly, they all encouraged me to give stand up another try because of the material I shared over the Twitter and Book Of Face (Facebook). After this advice from friends, I penciled jokes, one-liners, asides and funny stories about my life with a blended family of a wife and 3 daughters into a notebook, practiced in front a mirror and my dog then booked a set at a local comedy club.

What happened next not only changed my perspective on people, it saved my love of writing.


Onstage in a comedy club, there’s a weird sense of equality. Everyone’s there to have fun. If you’re funny, you’re funny. If you can make people laugh, you can make them listen and eventually think. After five minutes of telling a room full of strangers how unpredictable and dysfunctional my life is, I was transformed. I didn’t “kill” but I didn’t bomb either. I did get immediate feedback and it was more honest than anything I’d ever received from writing online. People came up to me with smiles on their faces and told me what they liked and disliked. They were encouraging and even thought I’d been doing comedy for a while.

Since that night in early June, I’ve performed more than 30 times. One recent set happened in a pizza pub turned comedy club for a night in front of about 50 people, mostly college students, twenty years younger than me, you know, my college sophomore daughter’s age. I made a room full of diverse jaded millennials laugh consistently for over 10 minutes. The best part was sharing the stage with several comedians who have been doing comedy as long as I’ve been writing. The democracy in their constructive criticism made me appreciate my writing.

I’ve even found two to three “regular” places to show up and do comedy each week. I’ve even been paid a handful of times.

The lost hope I’d felt from faceless review was now buoyed by the in your grill honesty of heartfelt evaluation.

I’m not saying everyone who blogs or tweets or tosses up a status that gets more than 5 likes should find a hot mike to justify their online existence but for me, using another creative venue to expand myself artistically helped. Now instead of avoiding the comments, I can just use them in my next set and become slightly more annoying by adding “comedian” to my media that are social bios.

Plus, I feel I matter, at least to myself, a little more.

Thanks a lot, that’s my time. My name’s Lance. I’m here all week.

Here’s a song about a comedian, one who did everything he could to be different and find himself, Andy Kaufman; immortalized by R.E.M.’s Man On The Moon.

What I Like About You


In two weeks I turn 44-years-old and what scares me the most is I still have little to no self-esteem. You would think after more than half my life gone I’d have accumulated some cockiness about my resume. Nope.

A couple of months ago, I visited a new psychiatrist. She was a very nice Indian-American lady who exuded warmth, kindness and positivity. Either she was a fantastic actress or the perfect person for her chosen profession. She made me feel safe, welcome, and relatively okay, for a crazy person.

One of the things she told me was I was too hard on myself and didn’t give myself enough credit for the good stuff I’d done and my positive attributes. She gave me homework that of course I didn’t do, until today.

“Go home and write 5 things you like about yourself and say them aloud to the mirror.”

My first thought was, lady, you’re lovely, but I’m a writer, isn’t that enough narcissism for one person. Then I realized I was paying her for the hour, so eventually I obliged.

It was difficult. Five things about me? Really? I’m a mess. Okay, but note, I wrote out like seven, then realized that two of them were sarcastic lies so the five you’ll read are absolutely it. I don’t recommend any of you do this, because I know most of you will whine about paring your list from 37 to a top five and then I’ll have to hate you.

5) My taste and knowledge of music is pretty stellar. I can’t remember my kids’ names but I can recite Lou Reed lyrics from the Transformer album. I always forget at least two things on my wife’s grocery list but I know more about 1970s punk and glam rock and 1990s grunge and alternative music than the average dude or dudette. People ask me for playlists all the time, tag me in their Facebook posts about music stuff, and if one more person argues with me about the merits of Diamond David Lee Roth Van Halen versus Sammy Hagar Van Halen I’m going to curse them to choke on brown M&Ms. If you don’t get that reference, we can’t be friends.

4) I don’t drink coffee or play the lottery. This means I’m the perfect person to be in line with at a convenience store. You don’t have to worry about me bickering over the quality of the cappuccino mix or taking 14 extra minutes selecting scratch off tickets.

3) I’m reliable. I hated this about me until about five years ago. I’ve moved over 30 people by either owning or tracking down a truck, dollies, and boxes. I’ve bailed over 10 people out of jail. I’ve never failed to pick someone up from the airport, school, or work when they needed a ride. You ask me to be somewhere, I’m 97.3 percent of the time punctual and proud to do it, publically. Privately, I’m probably making fun of you and making snide remarks. Seriously, I’m that dude you’re supposed to call because it’s the right thing to do.

2) I can write. I’m not saying I’m Hemingway or Palahniuk or even Franzen but I think I know what I’m doing. Time and deadlines are hard to meet sometimes because of real life but I know my way around sentence structure and storytelling. My editing sucks, but I have people for that. I think I know what I’m doing as a writer compared to most.

1) I’m a good parent. I didn’t say I was a great one because that’s crazy talk. I know my 3 daughters love me, mostly behind my back, but with one in college and two others at the tops of their classes, I haven’t screwed them up or nullified the fantastic work of their mother. There’s a lot of love in our house and all 3 of my girls are smart, beautiful, and can tell a good joke.

What are your good attributes? Please, limit them to five. I’m very fragile, emotionally. You start showing off with more than that, and the next 47 posts will be dark dystopian tales of woe that will make you want to punch yourself in the face, too.

Here’s The Romantics.


I wrote two books. They got good reviews. The third one, a sequel to the first, Woman Of Troy, is on the way, very soon.

The Ballad of Helene Troy, an underdog story about a female musician in New York City, and Soul To Body, about an ex-1990s guitar player trying to raise his teenage daughter after the death of his wife, her mother, are available, digitally, on Amazon.com for your kindles, and in paperback from Lulu.com


Never Said


It is a 20-year-old tale told by a fool, full of drunkenness and pity, signifying something, and when the Facebook friend request popped up I ignored her on instinct. The following message made me grin, wide, but guilt as cargo. My wife sat three feet away on the family living room sofa as I read.

What is the airspeed velocity of a flying monkey?

I remembered. Two decades earlier the person behind the message and I sat on a sad, yellowed couch watching The Simpsons. It was the episode where Mr. Burns unleashes his flying monkeys. We quoted every line, laughed at each joke, and plotted our own entertainment successes that never happened. Against better judgment, I answered.

Fly my pretties! Fly!

I didn’t wait for her response. I shut my laptop and walked into the kitchen to look for a diet soda. I opened the refrigerator, popped the top, and drifted into a memory.

I stood in front of a dirty fridge looking at a twelve pack of beer, a pack of cheese, some condiments and left over pizza. She had followed me into the kitchen, chattering about our plans.

“When we make it as comedy writers and stand ups, we’re never drinking cheap beer from a can.”

I swigged a Natural Light while tossing her one as she leaned against the lime green wall phone with a cord that could stretch into all five rooms; kitchen, bathroom, living room and two bedrooms. She caught it with her left hand and said.

“Tell me your first joke you’re going to do at the open mic tomorrow.”

I frowned at the thought of performing in front of just her. As close as we were, it was a competitive relationship. I didn’t trust her. If she liked my material, she’d downplay her delight. If she didn’t like it, she’s patronize my feelings. I took the bait like a hungry catfish.

“Hey, how’s everyone doing? I just graduated college and my post graduate work is making strangers laugh enough so that the important guy in the back running this place gives me a break and I’ll have my own sitcom by Christmas. So please, for the love of poverty, don’t forget to tip your waitresses. I plan on sweet talking one for a twenty buck loan at the end of the night.”

She drank her beer, then grinned. I fumed.

“What?” I demanded.

She stepped toward me, tossed back another drink, and answered.

“That’s so adorable, you’ll get laughs and get laid by the waitress.”

She patronized me. I knew her so well. I walked past her and looked for the black spiral notebook that contained my best stuff. I felt her hand on my back as I reached the bedroom.

“Who is she?”

The refrigerator door shut and I was back. My wife stood a few feet away with her arms crossed, holding her cell phone with raised eyebrows and a mischievous smile.

“Somebody I used to know from my stand up comedy days. I denied the friend request. answered her message, then walked away. I was going to tell you.”

She met me in front of the fridge and leaned in for a kiss. She brushed away strands of brown but gray-tinged hair from my eyes.

“I know, but I was bad. I looked her up on my phone. She’s not as pretty as me, and it looks like she’s unhappy with her life. If she messages you again, tell me, and I’ll have her killed by the end of  the day.”

We both broke into loud laughter. I composed myself, kissed her, then said.

“You’re the funny one, these days. Maybe I should take you to an open mic.”

I followed her into the living room. We never said anything else, about her, or my life, back then.


100 Word Song – Worrisome Heart


No lead in or exposition, just a song, more Silas and Olive, and a request to go see my sometimes writing partner, Tara aka @Tara_R from http://www.thinspiralnotebook.com. She chose today’s 100 word tune, a jazzy number from Melody Gardot called Worrisome Heart.

Here’s my 100.

Last time: https://lancemyblogcanbeatupyourblog.wordpress.com/2014/08/06/100-word-song-wish-i-could-fly-like-superman/

Silas swallowed, thought about Olive, then his hand shook. His finger was close to the trigger. He dropped it on the ground. Archie smiled. Kenny and Roscoe ran next to him, but Archie stopped them with one sentence.

“I know what it’s like to be surrounded by people with troubling ways and worrisome hearts.”

He stepped toward Silas. The gun was equal distance from both men.

“Everybody wants the short cut get to where they’re going. We’re not like that.”

Silas stared at the money in his other hand, then dropped it to the garage floor, too.

My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog

As always, you have 7 days from NOW, to write 100 words off Melody Gardot’s Worrisome Heart, Use the media that are social to advertise your magic. Also link up to the green Mr. Linky button, below.

100 Word Song – Wish I Could Fly Like Superman


Sorry for the lateness of this week’s 100 word song. Between work, being featured on my first ever podcast interview, and some Lefty Pop aka http://www.leftypop.com business, it was an overwhelming day. Wait, what? Podcast interview? Oh, yeah. If you do this blogging thing long enough, hit a BlogHer conference and treat people decently, someone will hand you a small snack of internet fame. My writer friend Poppy Marler aka aka @poppyjmarler hit me up in San Jose and asked me to do a Skype interview last Wednesday. It ran today. I wouldn’t shut up and used the phrase “be a whore” professionally. Here’s the link to Poppy and her friends Tammy and Vanita’s site Blogging Betties. They do a great job and were very nice to me. Hope you have 45 minutes.


Today’s 100 word song was chosen by Dawn of The Dawnie Project http://www.thedawnieproject.com/ . She suggested 1979’s Wish I Could fly like Superman by The Kinks.

Last time: https://lancemyblogcanbeatupyourblog.wordpress.com/2014/08/04/between-something-and-nothing/

Silas scanned the garage. He saw nothing that Roscoe, Archie or Kenny could use as a weapon. Archie spoke.

“There’s 300 dollars on the red toolbox to your left. That’s what these two owe you from the deal with Bart and that shiner.”

Silas walked over, then picked up the cash. Kenny and Roscoe took several steps toward him. Archie shouted.


Archie approached.

“I know who you are, Silas Royster, of Daily, Georgia. You’re better than this. But you’ve got fly away like Superman from those two girls.”

Silas pulled the gun and aimed it at Archie.

My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog

As always, you have 7 days to give up 100 words inspired by The Kinks Wish I Could Fly Like Superman. Use the media that are social to advertise you magic and the green Mr. Linky button to link up.

Between Something And Nothing


You’ll see some changes to this space as weeks progress. I learned from my BlogHer trip that I must more organized and focused in what posts here so you can know what to expect and grow along with the content. My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog will be a platform for my serialized fiction, subsequent published books, and other writing. This has always been a writing blog by a writer who likes to write.

Lefty Pop, aka http://www.leftypop.com or @lefty_pop or http://www.facebook.com/leftypop will be the destination for my opinions, politics, and pop culture material. My partner, Linda Roy aka @modmomelleroy of http://www.elleroywashere.com and I are planning some changes there that will feature more video and podcast blogging. We’re very excited about all of this.

I will write about music here, because a) that’s my gimmick b) you can’t stop me.

I’ve neglected my serialized short story, Light Of Day, about Silas and Olive, two 19-year-old lovers on the run in 1989 Florida. It’s coming to an end, sometime in the next two to three months.  So, let’s get on with it. Here’s a new story episode, no prompts or tie ins, just a several hundreds words of the inevitable confrontation.

Last time: https://lancemyblogcanbeatupyourblog.wordpress.com/2014/07/22/100-word-song-best-day-of-my-life/

There was a party of four riding in the Cutlass as Silas drove from The Jade strip club to Finn Brothers Garage. Zola and Olive shared the backseat as Olive changed clothes and chattered about her shift as a waitress among nude dancers and grabby men. Silas drove while a stark disquiet rode shotgun. As he pulled the car to a stop in an alley between the garage, Olive blurted.

“What the hell did you tell him, Zola? He hasn’t looked at me once since I got in the car.”

Silas parked, took the keys from the ignition, and tossed them over his right shoulder. Without turning around he delivered the plan.

“I’m going inside and getting the money. Zola, if they don’t have the two thousand you said they’d have, I’m taking whatever I can get. If something happens, let Olive drive, she knows how jacked up the brakes are on this car. If, I’m not out in five minutes, get the hell out of here.”

He walked past the passenger side window as Olive rolled it down and stuck her head out.

“Honey, I love you, forever, okay?”

The pacing of her words were typical Olive, Silas thought to himself. Quick, deliberate, and with emphasis on forever and okay. Everything he’s learned about her over the past few hours from Zola told him to not answer, keep walking, and perhaps, not come back. He gave in, one more time.

“I love you too, Liv. He felt tears well, so he squeezed his eyes shut and pivoted. By the time he got to the window, Olive was smiling. He leaned in and kissed her, tasting liquor, lipstick, and lies. He put his left hand in the waist of his blue jeans and adjusted the gun so he could draw if necessary.

He walked into the auto body shop, let the metal door slam shut, then looked over the empty bays as the echoes died down. Both Finn Brothers and their cousin, Kenny, stood thirty feet in front of him. None of them were holding money.

Here’s The Ocean Blue with their alternative 1989 hit, Between Something And Nothing.

I wrote two books. They got good reviews. The third one, a sequel to the first, Woman Of Troy, is on the way, very soon.

The Ballad of Helene Troy, an underdog story about a female musician in New York City, and Soul To Body, about an ex-1990s guitar player trying to raise his teenage daughter after the death of his wife, her mother, are available, digitally, on Amazon.com for your kindles, and in paperback from Lulu.com


You Get What You Give, Blogher Part 2


Last time: https://lancemyblogcanbeatupyourblog.wordpress.com/2014/07/28/save-me-san-francisco-blogher-part-I/

Being around hundreds of others who do do what you do, the mantra “blogging is hard” gets reinforced and validated. I heard stories just like mine, mostly of a different gender, since I was one of few dudes at BlogHer.

“I write in line to pick up my kids.”

“I blog late at night after everyone has been asleep for hours.”

“I’ve done my best work on cocktail napkins while out at dinner with my significant other.”

I also met many people who do more than detail personal diaries of their kids’ adventures growing up.

Friday, day 2 of BlogHer, was my personal favorite as I learned the most about the conference and myself. This sounds ridiculously coy, but I had no clue of my audience. Sure, I’ve connected, online, with thousands of people, sold some books, and gotten positive feedback on the politics and pop culture site I tri-launched in January 2014, http://www.leftypop.com , but it’s hard to believe numbers and messages on a screen. By the end of breakfast, I’d met, face to face, so many people who’ve read this space and my other one; messaged, retweeted, shared, liked, favorite and emailed. Hugging and talking to people I’ve admired for years was overwhelming. Meeting people larger than their 200 x 200 avatars was a great feeling. I didn’t mind the worst breakfast burrito ever because the connections and conversations were unique and satisfying.


This experience was supported by the morning keynote speaker, Jenny Lawson aka The Bloggess. Her meteoric rise to internet fame was told brilliantly by her recollection of her first BlogHer, six years ago, meeting Dooce, arguably the web’s first celebrity blogger, Heather Armstrong. Lawson talked about “geeking out”, then pledging to write her own story and become successful. Lawson is a hero to many in the blogging community because of her plain-spokeness and championing of mental illness. I got close to her, about 15 feet, but several others were having their own moment with the star. Maybe I was witnessing the next Bloggess, hugging and complimenting their inspiration near the restrooms. It was like watching a real-life Behind The Music but with slightly less drugs and nudity. The Bloggess was the perfect role model for so many bloggers.

The first session I attended may have been the best and worth the entire trip. I sat in a panel discussion about book publishing with 4 successful authors including Kami Wycoff, whom I I’ve read and admired. My writing friend Rachel aka @rachelintheoc sat next to me and even helped me organize my own blog. She’s found a ton of success an a published author and her help will be invaluable.


Over the past 4 years I’ve written 4 manuscripts, including an 83,000 novel that lurks in a zip file, and three 45,000 plus word novellas, publishing two, The Ballad Of Helene Troy and Soul To Body on amazon.com for kindle and lulu.com in paperback. Reviews were good but sales were not and I wondered it I was doing it all wrong or wasting my time altogether. No one handed me a book deal or assigned me an agent, but the advice on networking and writing process affirmed my belief in what I’m doing.

Keep Writing

Keep Trying

Keep Putting Yourself Out There

Keep Believing.

At the end of the class, I pulled out a lighter and started to sway. Not really, maybe.

I figured out that talent and hard work find an audience you nurture. I slipped so many business cards into well connected fingers, I’m convinced 1 or 2 didn’t end up picking turkey sandwich morsels of their teeth later during lunch.

The afternoon session on freelance writing had nothing to do with me personally, although my name is Lance and I write a lot for free. Four writers, two of which I follow on the Twitter, Jenn Pozner and Liz Henry, talked about putting a price on your work and getting paid for freelance. I’ve done a little of this and learned I’m doing it wrong. Their were a lot of shocked faces and shaking heads as the panel lectured us on how to earn money for our magic. Selling your words can feel gross when it’s not a book or an entire website you run. The class showed me how to get over it.

As day two came to a professional close, I felt more confidence that I had in a long time. I’m not doing anything wrong, but I know I can do it better. Blogging and professional writing is frustrating when you think it’s just friends, foes, families and fellow freaks occasionally checking you out. I learned it’s more than that. I need to give myself more credit. Blogging is hard but there’s another mantra, you get what you give, especially for those of us with the dreamer’s disease. I should’ve sang that at karaoke.

Part 3 tomorrow night; killer karaoke, years of friendship made real, being late to the party was a good thing and breaking glass.

wrote two books. They got good reviews. The third one, a sequel to the first, Woman Of Troy, is on the way, very soon.

The Ballad of Helene Troy, an underdog story about a female musician in New York City, and Soul To Body, about an ex-1990s guitar player trying to raise his teenage daughter after the death of his wife, her mother, are available, digitally, on Amazon.com for your kindles, and in paperback from Lulu.com