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Writing... funny and weird and stupid

read + write
thanks for being here.
Today, we have reading recommendations, inspiration, and writing advice from Dan Ozzi and Errin Haines. We’ll also hear from Dennis Horn, who writes Innovationstheater. Finally, we’ll share some thoughts on audience growth. 
read + recommendations
Each week, a writer will join us to answer some questions about what they like to read.
Our first guest is Dan Ozzi, a music journalist, editor, and author. His book, SELLOUT: The Major-Label Feeding Frenzy That Swept Punk, Emo, and Hardcore (1994-2007), was published in 2021. He writes a newsletter, REPLY ALT, and has written at Billboard, SPIN, The FADER, The Guardian, Noisey (where he worked for over five years), and more.
📸: Anthony Dixon
📸: Anthony Dixon
What’s the thing you’ve bookmarked, you know you need to read, and are excited to read?
Pre-ordering is the ultimate bookmarking, and I pre-ordered the two forthcoming Cormac McCarthy novels so fast my fingers shattered instantly.
What’s the thing you read when you want to remember how to write?
Sometimes I’ll go back through anything David Roth has written. His sentences are perfectly constructed, pack in so much information, and are somehow also funny. When you as a reader find yourself nodding along because thoughts are flowing so smoothly from one sentence to the next, that’s the mark of a good wordsmith right there.
Is there a thread you love that you come back to (or finds its way back to you)? (if so, why)?
Last year a guy posted a thread of sandwiches that cost under $10 in Los Angeles. I’ve been trying to work my way through them all. I don’t know if I was expected to cite something more intellectually stimulating here, but I’m trying to be honest.
What’s the first book you remember reading and loving?
It was a book called State by State with the State. It was a fake travel guide written by the sketch comedy group The State who had a show on MTV that I was obsessed with. I was 13 when it came out and I remember everything about the day I got it.
It was the first book that an adult didn’t force me to read and it seriously blew my mind. They used crude language and packed it with these hilarious travel stories which I wasn’t sure were real or not. It was probably the first book that made me realize that writing didn’t have to follow any rules. Writing could be funny and weird and stupid. Writing could be anything you made it.
What’s the best thing you’ve read this month?
I finally read Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential this month. I don’t really care about books about food (in my opinion, food is for eating not for writing about), but I’d watched that documentary about him and it mentioned that the book essentially changed his life overnight. I figured it must be a pretty good book. So I read it, and I totally get why it became a phenomenon. He wrote for his audience in such a working class way. Even though he spent paragraphs describing the ingredients in fancy French cuisine, it’s a distinctly American proletariat book. 
Who’s the Twitter follow that hasn’t let you down, since the beginning?
This is not a brag because it would be the least impressive brag possible, but I have followed both Desus and Mero since the beginning. I didn’t even know what they looked like when I followed them — just that Mero would ALL CAPS roast clowns and Desus had the most NYC-specific observations. And now they’re the #1 kings of late night. Two internet jokesters parlaying their online humor into a job where they interview Oscar winners and former presidents really does seem like the greatest modern success story. Really happy for those guys.
newsletter time
Every other week, we’ll include a new Revue newsletter (new = under 60 days or five or fewer issues). 
The newsletter and podcast are named after the German word for “someone trying to appear innovative without doing the work:” Innovationstheater. (We need a word for that in English.)
We asked Dennis: In 280 characters or less, what’s your advice for anyone planning on starting a newsletter?
Just start! We often put far too much work in the first issue — yet this is the issue with the fewest readers. It’s better just to start writing a newsletter that gets a little better issue by issue.
write + inspiration
Each week, a writer will join us to answer some questions and give their perspective on writing.
Our second guest is Errin Haines, a writer, editor, and on-air analyst. After serving as the national writer on race for the Associated Press, she became a founding member of The 19th, where she currently serves as the Editor at Large. She’s worked at the Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post and has written at Atlanta Magazine, POLITICO, and more. 
📸: The 19th
📸: The 19th
What’s a piece of writing advice that’s held true for you?
Clear thinking produces clear writing. If you can’t articulate what the story’s about, you’re not ready to write. Keep reporting.
What’s the thing you read when you want to remember how to write?
What’s a writing strategy you’ve developed that’s worked for you?
Deadlines are the mother of inspiration!
What do you do with all the writing ideas that pop into your head? Where do they go?
Oh, man… My Notes app is a dumpster fire! I also keep notebooks all over my home and they’re filled with inspiration I might get in the shower, after meditating, before bed, in the middle of the night when the ancestors stop by, next to the couch when I’m chatting with a friend. When ideas visit me, I have to get them down immediately before they leave.
How do you work out what you run with, what you save, and what you get rid of?
Early in my career I learned the difference between an idea and a story. I also learned to accept that not all ideas are MY ideas, and I’m good at saying to colleagues whose work I respect and admire, “Hey! I have an idea and I think YOU are the one to do it.” Of course, they don’t have to listen to me, and I don’t do it for credit. I just like to see good stories out in the world. Sometimes I’m the vessel; sometimes I’m just the messenger.
Who do you think really knows how to do a newsletter?
Two of my faves are by people who strike me as completely self-possessed: Jamelle Bouie, who was a legend long before he got to NYT, and Samantha Irby’s newsletter recapping Judge Mathis episodes is probably the thing I most look forward to in my inbox every single day.
What’s your one tip (that doesn’t get discussed enough) for a writer trying to improve in 2022?
Whatever happened to letter writing? I think a lot about striking up a correspondence with one of my writer friends to talk about the craft, to encourage each other, and to offer constructive critique. People used to do that — and we still read their letters! Bottom line: I bought expensive stationery in the pandemic and I’m looking to use it.
Is there a thing you’ve written and have actually enjoyed going back experiencing?
Is this the part where I get to tell everybody about the time I got paid to write about Freaknik, aka The Greatest Story Never Sold? I am proud of many stories I’ve done in my life, but few give me more joy in the retelling than the one I lived through and got to report on through the recollections of everyone from a former mayor to the unofficial mayor of Atlanta (shoutout to Jermaine Dupri!).
How would you describe your relationship with your readers? (especially if it’s evolved)
It has definitely evolved, because I have multiple audiences! When I started out two decades ago (!) I was writing for newspapers. Readers could email me, or even (gasp!) call my desk directly to talk to me about my stories. How quaint! Now people can find me because they read my story, or see me on television, or hear me on the radio, or see me speaking somewhere or giving an interview about my work. And they can still let me know what they think via my social media profiles — which I have kept public — but I have the choice about whether and how I engage with people about my work. I try to maintain some of the civility of the former medium in how I interact now; with the Internet comes anonymity and distance along with a faux familiarity that definitely affects how people talk to each other. But I’m always going to seek out ways to be in community with people who are genuinely interested in productive, intellectually honest conversations around the things I write about, because at the end of the day, my work is meant to be an invitation to dialogue, never the last word.
Each week, in addition to hearing from writers, we’ll also give an update about what we’re doing for readers and writers at Twitter, or share tips on how to make the most of features that already exist.
It’s been a while, so we dove into our archive to dig up advice we’ve given on writing a successful newsletter. Here are three links, on audience growth:
wrap up
Thanks for joining us this week, we’d love to know what you think. You can reach us at @revue, or by using the hashtag #readpluswrite.
 See you next time,
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Anna from Twitter
Anna from Twitter @revue

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