Write what you know and make sure you write what you know for the audience you have in mind. That, in a nutshell, is the gist of all of the writing advice I've had thrown at me since I decided I wanted to work for peanuts for a living. And Eric Ruhalter is a prime example of how this whole thing works if you, you know, do that.
Ruhalter is the author or the newly-released The Kid Dictionary: Hilarious Words to Describe the Indescribable Things Kids Do. Ever find yourself at a loss for words when some little punk blows out the candles at your kid's birthday party? That's what Ruhalter refers to as a "wishjack". Want to bitch and scream when you can't DVR American Idol or The Real Housewives of Plastic Surgery and Impossible Standards County because it's full of kid shows again? Just tell the kids you're tired of being "Spongebogged" feel good about not cursing (for once).
Want to know more? Of course you do. Read on for a short interview with Ruhalter and a chance to win your very own copy of The Kid Dictionary.
AspiringMama: Gimme name, rank, and serial number.
Eric Ruhalter: Easily amused Man, Father, husband, Writer, Dreamer, Maker-Upper of Words.
I work in New York City at AMC Television, producing TV Promos, which are commercials that air on AMC about the shows and movies on AMC. It may not earn me a Pulitzer, but I enjoy it, I love the people and rarely if ever does it put me in any physical danger. Nor is it one of those dirty jobs where my wife makes me leave my clothes on the porch every evening.
My wife Kara and I live in Morris Township, NJ and have 3 kids. 13 year old son and 10 year old son/daughter twins, a dog, and two cats. I like to write, edit video, play Frisbee and ping pong and surfing. And I’m really nice.
AM: Good. I don't interview assholes on my blog. So you being really nice is totally convenient for, like, both of us. Before I forget, I have to ask (because I ask this of all my interviewees) do you chew your ice cream? Bonus points if you say yes.
ER: YES! YES I chew my ice cream!
Except i'm lying. I do not chew my ice cream. I just wanted to impress you. I had a very traumatic experience as a child where i thought you had to chew ice cream, and i did so despite the fact that it hurt my teeth. Ultimately i stopped eating ice cream for a large portion of my childhood. (Except for milkshakes, because they were already chewed.) Now Ice cream is one of my greatest taste-oriented pleasures. But i just let it melt in my mouth. That's how i roll.
AM: ok so you're a nice guy who doesn't chew his ice cream who wrote a funny book. Two outta three ain't bad. Tell the lovely people reading this how you came up with terms like "Curdler". Cuz, like, I've totally been there.
ER: I apologize about the ice cream thing. I’d really like to chew it, but I’m just not ready.
More than 90% of the words in The Kid Dictionary were inspired by things I saw with my own eyes, watching my own kids. There were countless scenarios that didn’t have names but needed them. I, the tireless philanthropist, made them up. And I like to think the world’s a better place. Okay, maybe that’s overstating it, but I’m glad people like the book.
Okay, “CURDLER.” That one came about after repeated episodes of finding old Sippy Cups, usually containing milk that disappeared. Kids in the toddler phase are not much for rinsing out their cups and plates and stacking them neatly in the dishwasher. They’re more likely to throw it under the couch. And eventually you’ll find them, either by chance or by following their stench and they’ll look like there’s a scientific experiment going on in there. A fuzzy, pungent, moldy scientific experiment. I called them “Curdlers” because it seems as though the milk has turned to cheese. And I like cheese, but probably not that kind.
See? Told you the man knows his audience. Cuz? Raise your hand if you've been there.
Now for the fun part.
Sourcebooks, publisher of The Kid Dictionary, has graciously offered a copy for one Aspiring Mama reader. To enter, simply do one of the following (or more for extra entries!)
* Leave a comment for Eric on this blog post.
* Tweet, Facebook, Google +, or include a link to this post on your own blog. Each counts for it’s own entry, so be sure to leave me one comment letting me know what you did so I can add up points!
* Comments will be accepted through midnight, EST, on Wednesday, April 4.
* One winner will be selected via Random.org and will be announced here on Aspiring Mama shortly thereafter. And of course, if you don't win, The Kid Dictionary can be purchased at all major booksellers.