Sometimes You Meet The Nicest People On The Internet

A few months ago I met a wonderful writer named Jen Owenby who contacted me after reading my book, An Agoraphobic’s Guide to Hollywood.  She also has a blog (Jen’s Thoughts) and we’ve exchanged emails, talked about writing, and about juggling life with family, work, and answering the muse.  Well, several weeks ago Jen asked if she could interview me for her blog, and I said (gulp) sure.  She sent me some preliminary questions and asked if I wouldn’t mind answering them for her interview.  Once again, I said (gulp) sure.

Well, Jen’s questions sat on my desk for more weeks than I care to count. It’s not that I was too busy to answer them; it’s just that I was afraid. You see, I’ve got this problem:  I don’t really enjoy talking about myself.  It’s one thing to use my point of view in a story I’m telling, or in a post that’s here at my website.  But I just find it difficult to talk about my accomplishments, or what I’ve done as a professional screenwriter.

It just feels too much like bragging.

The one rule that my parents taught us (along with never allowing us to say “Shut up!”) was that bragging or being boastful was rude.  They never said that to us in so many words.  But if they thought we were boasting a little too long (and too loudly) about some great feat we had accomplished, one of them would just smile and the other would say, “Careful, or your arm will fall off.”  That was our cue to get humble.

I never stopped and thought as a kid what the heck that phrase meant.  But I know that it usually worked, and I kept my conquests to myself.  It was only today that I thought about it (thanks to Jen’s interview questions) and I decided to look up that saying on the Internet.

I couldn’t find it anywhere.

But I found something like it.  And I think this is probably what my parents meant when they cautioned us about losing a limb by bragging: “Don’t break your arm by patting yourself on the back.”  My parents had their own graphic way of interpreting that saying, and well, whatever the phrasing, it took hold of me and still sticks today.

That’s why it took me so long to answer Jen’s questions.  But I did manage to answer those questions, and Jen’s two-part interview with me is currently posted at her site.  I tell you this not to (God Forbid!) boast, but because Jen is doing a random drawing – giving away five copies of my book to five people who show up at her website and say hello.  Also, as a Grand Prize, one person who wins will be able to talk with me (and ask questions)  one-on-one about professional screenwriting.

People seem to really enjoy An Agoraphobic’s Guide to Hollywood – How Michael Jackson Got Me Out of the House (except for the occasional Michael Jackson ultra-fan who hates me for writing a particular scene in the book), and I like the fact that it’s not going to cost five people anything to get a chance to read it, if they win.  The Grand Prize makes me a little nervous because of that bragging issue I have, but I’ve had a twenty-five year career as a professional screenwriter in Hollywood and people seem to like to ask me questions about writing for movies and television.

So, if you haven’t read my memoir, or you’d like to win a copy for a friend, or if you’re just interested in learning more about professional screenwriting, you might want to check in with Jen at her website (Jen’s Thoughts), and say hello. And when you read Jen’s interview with me, please don’t think I’m bragging, or patting myself on the back.  My mom wouldn’t like that.

And I don’t want my arm to break.

(Click here to register for Jen’s Giveaway)


33 thoughts on “Sometimes You Meet The Nicest People On The Internet

  1. Telling your story is not bragging, your arm is safe. You have experiences and insights from which others can glean wisdom. Just don’t tell your mom.


  2. I always enjoy reading your blog, Darlene!! and I’m sure the winner of the contest will also enjoy “interviewing” you!! I read Jen’s blog and thought she did a pretty good job – and accurately too. Congrats on stepping outside your comfort box once again!


  3. It’s so true, Darlene. As writer’s we have to sometimes talk about ourselves, and I find this hard also. My parent’s told me my nose would grow with bragging, so I didn’t brag, but my nose grew anyway. Goes to show how much parents know.


  4. Being proud of one’s achievements should be celebrated, but I know exactly what you mean about being humble. Life is such a tricky balance to get right sometimes-I’m forever telling my daughter this (preparing her early, she’s only 6!) Do you have any British ancestry, we generally do humble and understatement quite well…..?!


  5. Great piece – I still want to do the interview with you. You’re a fascinating person (and a really lovely one by the sound of it – plus you’ve worked on at least one of my favourite films! 🙂 Seriously, I’ve just found your email telling me how to contact you – I’ll write to you tomorrow! 🙂

    Sorry not to have been in touch before – it’s been a crazy few days.


  6. Hi Darlene….I signed up to get updated on your posts once a week so just read this one today. And yes, I agree that the internet is a wonderful place to meet like-minded people. Plus, it’s great to meet with others (writers) that understand some of the joys and challenges of the work. Other writers seem much better able to appreciate what it takes to overcome our own self-doubts, hesitations and all-out fears and just keep writing and putting our words out there for others to read. Besides, I would much rather read a writer who is honest and humble than one that clearly believes they’ve got it all together! I continue to look forward to your posts!


    • Thanks for commenting, Kathy. I always look forward to hearing from you. I enjoy hearing from all writers because let’s face it: Writing is a lonely enterprise. It’s something we do at our own time, in our own space, in our own way. Although there are millions of us and we are met by the same challenges, our work keeps us from doing it within a community where we can get support from one another. The Internet has helped us find our communities, and I always welcome exchanging ideas, techniques, or just a human connection with every writer I meet here in cyberspace.


  7. I enjoyed your book as well. I have suffered with fear, anxiety and agoraphobia for most of my life. I just recently was able to take a family vacation for the first time in 8 years. We traveled 9 hours away to see family and it was awesome. I have been writing my story on my blog and hope you will check it out. Glad we have connected. God BlessYou


    • Thank you so much, Angie for reading my book and for coming over to my website to comment. Yes, I signed up to follow your blog and I’ve been reading your posts with great interest. I tried making a couple of comments on my iPad and for some reason they didn’t go through. Next time I will try to comment using my big home computer. I think it’s fantastic that you were finally able to take a family vacation after eight years. I had tears in my eyes when I read that, and yes, it is truly awesome. I know (from experience) that was no easy task and I am so thrilled you were able to take those huge steps and travel away from your home. It’s not easy navigating the oftentimes turbulent waters of agoraphobia, so I commend you for your courage and congratulate you on a successful (and awesome!) trip! “Yoweeee!” — That’s me in California cheering for you.


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