“S*** My Dad Says” on Twitter: Success in unlikely places
September 3, 2009
A couple of weeks ago I started following a Twitter page called “S*** My Dad Says.” Every day on this page Justin Halpern posts a quote from his 73-year-old dad, who is decidedly cranky and hilarious. I figured Justin Halpern was tweeting in obscurity. Then today I read about him in the Wall Street Journal.
Mr. Halpern Sr.
As an example of the page’s content, recent posts included:
“Your mother made a batch of meatballs last night. Some are for you, some are for me, but more are for me. Remember that. More. Me.”
This was one of the only posts that did not include profanity. (The old man has quite a mouth!) In linking to this page, I’m not saying I agree with everything the old guy says (though some of it is surprisingly insightful). But I will say that “S*** My Dad Says” is proof that material for rich writing can be found in everyday happenings.
According to the WSJ, Justin Halpern was a struggling screenwriter in LA. He gave up on the scene and moved in with his parents. He started documenting the little, everyday things he thought were noteworthy and found a good medium for them (in his case, Twitter). Now his tweets have more than 240,000 subscribers, he’s being featured in the Wall Street Journal and book agents and publishers want to work with him.
Here’s why this matters on my blog:
I honestly don’t think this was a matter of Halpern getting lucky. I think it was the product of a creative mind finding an unusual way to present a subject that most people wouldn’t pay much attention to — a crotchety old man.
In my experience as a writer, and as a friend of writers (particularly for us non-fiction nerds), we often get hung up on the idea that we don’t have anything to write about — that we have to experience something over-the-top and intense to give us license to write. But time and again, some of the best written pieces I’ve read have come from a careful observation of something ordinary that’s shined up with clever writing and unusual connections between ideas.
Granted, “S*** My Dad Says” is only a series of 140-character quotes. But I see it as evidence that Halpern has learned how to see magic in the mundane, and I can’t wait to see how that translates to his future endeavors as a writer.
Writing is a muscle. The more you write, the stronger your writing will be. And chances are that the more you write, the more likely you are to turn to your everyday surroundings for inspiration.