Reading my book is like having that first talk about sex

Canadian humorist and screenwriter Randall Willis reacts to my “Pearls of Writing Wisdom.” Possibly after eating too much poutine…

When I saw the notification on Twitter that Randall Willis had posted a review of my new book, it was the first time in a while that I’d felt nervous about my writing. Not so much because he’s Canadian. Or because he’s a hilarious, award-winning writer and screenwriter. And not even because he knows a lot of guys who play professional hockey and carries a hockey stick in the trunk of his car “just for emergencies.”

Unlike my first book, Humor at the Speed of Life, which was a collection of newspaper columns I’d published over the last 16 years, Pearls of Writing Wisdom: From 16 shucking years as a columnist is more personal because it’s written for writers. Seeing my book in the hands of other writers I know and admire made me nervous in the same way I’d imagine it must feel to host The Oscars; standing in front of an audience of talented peers and hoping to be worthy of their time and attention. Except in this case there’s not even an open bar to loosen things up first.

At least I don’t have Stephen King staring me down from the audience. 

But when I saw Randall’s photos, I wasn’t sure if:

1) He was disappointed or

2) He was reading on the commode.

Then I read the first line:

“In many ways, the book is a writer’s version of that dreaded conversation between a child and loving parent/teacher about sex…and it’s just as awkward.”

“Oh crap,” I thought.

I kept reading, in the same way you keep watching the Presidential debates even though you’re pretty sure it’s only going to get worse. Fortunately, while I was right about the debates, I was wrong about Randall…

“In his own nervously jovial way, Ned tries to encourage writers to explore their budding bodies of work and yet caution them about the challenges that lie ahead without scaring (or scarring) them into creative celibacy…”

Randall goes on to utilize the sex-talk analogy throughout his funny, thoughtful review, which I realize is about as close as I’ll ever come to being called an amazing lover.

I’m OK with that.

If I can stand in front of you and feel my tips, insights and inspirations are worthy of your attention, I couldn’t ask for anything more…

“…I found a book that covered all aspects of writing, from understanding the inherent urges and the mechanics of satisfying wordplay, to dealing with the social and legal ramifications of your actions… hunh, this really is about sex.”

For the full, hilarious review, I hope you’ll visit Randall at Created By RCW.

I also want to thank him for the wonderful review, and for getting it up (the review) so quickly…



Ned Hickson is a nationally syndicated humor columnist with News Media Corporation and the editor of Siuslaw News. He is also the author of Humor at the Speed of Life, a collection of more than a decade of humor columns; and Pearls of Writing Wisdom: From 16 shucking years as a columnist, a writer’s survival guide. Both are available from Port Hole Publishing.









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Ned's Blog

I was a journalist, humor columnist, writer and editor at Siuslaw News for 23 years. The next chapter in my own writer’s journey is helping other writers prepare their manuscript for the road ahead. I'm married to the perfect woman, have four great kids, and a tenuous grip on my sanity...

45 thoughts on “Reading my book is like having that first talk about sex”

  1. You guys are killing me! (Just read Ross’s comment and your reply). Fortunately my kid’s ears are buried in headphones and a tablet, and he could care less why is mom just almost blew her morning beverage out her nose.

  2. What a fabulous and funny review with equally awesome comments, I am dying! I am learning from my other writer friends that reviews are like precious gold, and I make sure to review almost every book I read. They are also really good practice for conveying a concise and understandable message in a small space.

    I’ve not started your book yet, but I do want to tell you how I’m going to use it.
    NaNoWriMo is around the corner – I always read for 20-30 minutes before I write. Your book is going to be my go-to in November. Can’t wait!

    1. I’m so glad — and flattered — to hear that, Michelle! It’s one of the reasons I wanted it to come out when it did, knowing and hoping it could give other writers some inspiration heading into NaNoWriMo.

      And yeah, Randy’s review was totally unexpected and absolutely hilarious 😉

  3. Had to re-read this line: “If I can stand in front of you and feel my tips”. Sorry – my mind thought it said something else! I’ve put your book on my Christmas wish list. Congrats! (on the book, not making my list)!

  4. This gives me hope that the book review, a genre I feared had devolved into “Mad Libs: Critique Edition,” is alive and well! Or at least alive and demented, and that might be even better. I just ordered your book! Didn’t see a place to request a signed copy – would love that if it’s possible!

    1. Hey Karen! “Alive and demented” is my mantra, at least if you ask my teenagers. And I’ll email my publisher and see if they can hold a copy for me to sign before it goes out! 😉

  5. Ned, I just wrote a comment that disappeared 😦 WP is killing me! Please check your spam where I’m sure you’ll find me in your trash! I managed to get this one up through FB log in 😦

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