LITERATURE

Emily V Gordon On Making A “Super You”

0 Comments 26 September 2015

Powerhouse comedy producer Emily V Gordon discusses the ideas and philosophies behind her new book Super You: Release Your Inner Superhero.

By Steven Ray Morris

 

Author Emily V Gordon has a new book being released today and it’s called Super You: Release Your Inner Superhero. Her name is familiar to anyone in the Los Angeles comedy scene, as well as the greater geek and gaming community. Producer of The Meltdown With Jonah and Kumail, the best damn comedy show in Los Angeles, (now with two seasons on Comedy Central under its belt), and co-host of the videogame podcast The Indoor Kids, Gordon is also a prolific writer. Her deeply empathetic and down-to-earth advice has been featured on sites like Rookie Mag, HelloGiggles, and xoJane, in addition to her popular advice Tumblr, Do You Think You’re Pretty?

Emily and I met up before the weekly live Meltdown show at Meltdown Comics to chat about Super You. Meltdown Comics was already humming with the dedicated attendees such as myself, but we took a breather in the Nerdist recording studio to dig into her journey as a writer, the process of living with intention, how being emotionally well-balanced is punk rock, and why superheroes are great at selling their strengths.

 

emily v gordon

Congratulations again on the book! How are you feeling on the eve of the release?

I feel good. I feel like I’ve had a sneeze that’s been in the chambers for a very long time. I started writing it in June of last year and finished in December of last year. It’s just a long process and then it’s just kind of waiting around. So I’m very excited for it to come out. I’m feeling very anticipatory.

 

And now youre just handing it back and forth between people to read and edit it?

Writing is kind of a lonely process. My editor was the first person to read the entirety of my book closely. She would write me little notes and stories about her own life in the margins, which I loved. I felt less alone. It felt like I was going through it with someone else, which was really lovely. I was very happy that she did those things.

 

Did you always want to write a book or did it evolve out of the years writing for sites like Rookie Mag and HelloGiggles and your very own Tumblr, Do You Think Youre Pretty?

I’ve always wanted to write a book. This is a dumb story, but I’ll tell it anyway. When I was seven I had an essay in the local paper about whether or not I liked artificial or real Christmas trees. I chose artificial. It was literally a one paragraph thing when I was in Third Grade, but the night after it came out I got a phone call from a person with a French accent offering me a book deal. I was so excited. It turned out it was my neighbor. I was furious with him. My parents are still kind of mad at him. I’m sending him a copy of the book, by the way.

 

Was there a moment after you quit being a therapist that you realized you still wanted to help people in a similar way?

I never wanted to stop doing it. I had a really hard time not seeing clients anymore because I was trained in it, and I was good at it. So I would say within six months of quitting, or maybe around the same time, I was already pitching websites mental health stuff to write. It’s obviously not the same as sitting down with human beings for eight hours a day five days a week, which is what I used to do, but I always want emotional well-being to be part of what I do even now.

 

emily v gordon 

Your book is part of a seemingly recent movement towards mental health awareness in the geek and comedy community (Dave Ross and Anna Sereginas podcast Terrified, Project UROK). Are people just tired of feeling shitty?

[Laughs] Yes. At least when I was a teenager, being depressed was considered cool. You weren’t supposed to be excited about stuff. Maybe this is just what happened where I grew up, or the people I hung out with, but the goal was to look as a bored as possible. That sounds fucking stereotypical, but it’s true. I’ve seen this gradual transition with the rise of nerd culture. Nerds are so unabashedly excited about things and unafraid to be passionate about them too. I really love it. I think it’s cool that it’s becoming hip again to want to be, not necessarily happy all the time, but to want to be in a good place and be well-balanced. I think it’s badass. There’s nothing more badass than being emotionally balanced. It’s the new punk rock.

 

Yes! That phrase belongs on a t-shirt.

This doesn’t mean you have to do yoga and speak in stupid saccharine phrases. What could be more punk rock than choosing to fully embrace being enthusiastic every single day? It’s tough and not always easy to do so, but I think it’s kind of a badass move.

 

Its just good to embrace

Wherever the fuck you are in life. And if you are angry right now, that’s fine too. If you’re furious or if you’re miserable, that’s all fine too, but affecting that or wanting that shouldn’t be the goal. We should be working towards a more balanced place so we feel all the things and not just one of the things.

 

We dont want to see anyone ruin their own lives.

No, you can’t just put your head down and go, “I’ll deal with it later.” This is all happening right now.

 

emily v gordon

Gordon on @midnight with Meltdown hosts Jonah Ray and Kumail Nanjiani

 

On this topic of actually choosing to participate in your own life, why is it so hard to live with intention?

The world is really hard and can be very stressful. I don’t even think it’s bad to go on autopilot for brief periods of time, but when you live with intention, being intentional about how you make decisions, being intentional about knowing your thoughts and desires, it can be a little scary. You have to embrace some dark shit sometimes. You have to be vulnerable in ways that aren’t super comfortable all the time. So in the past it has been easier for me to skate through and not think about things too much. Yes it is harder, but what are you waiting for? What would need to happen for you to start living the life you want to live? It’s a big question in my book and it’s a big question I ask a lot for sure.

 

Has your career as a producer helped you as a writer at all?

They both kind of feed into each other. I just tend to be terrifyingly organized, maybe to a fault. It helps with deadlines. When I sit down to write I can usually start writing. Being a producer has helped me hone the voice that says, “Sit the fuck down and write right now.” If I have something written down in my calendar that means I have to do it that day no matter what it is, for example when I get home from Meltdown tonight I’m going to look over questions for the live event. Being a producer and expecting organization out of other people and myself has helped me as a writer.

 

Super You has a superhero theme. Can you talk about why you chose that and how, without spoiling, does it frame the book?

I love that superheroes have origin stories that explain the way they are today. Batman watched his parents get killed in front of him. This origin could explain his reason for joining a goth band or for becoming an alcoholic, but instead he chose to become Batman. I like this idea that we are the sum of all things that have happened to us. My book uses an approach to wellness called narrative therapy that says we need to start taking control of the story we are telling ourselves. When I meet people and ask them about their story they often say, “Well I had this thing happen to me and that’s why I’m miserable.” Well okay, but maybe you should take charge of that story and start having that serve you a little better. You can’t control the things that have happened to you, but you can control how they affect you. I really love that superheroes take charge of their origin stories. Also I like that they are very candid about their strengths and weaknesses too. Superman doesn’t call himself Kryptonite Man, although a lot of us go around doing that very thing. I like superheroes too because they are making a choice to be the best they can be every single day.

 

You are having book release event at Meltdown Comics on October 6th. Can you tell us whats in store for us that night?

Since I put on stand-up shows I knew I had to incorporate stand-up. It’s a huge part of my life and who I am even though I don’t do it myself. So the event will have stand-up, a couple of readings from me, and then we’re going to do a fun little panel discussion of stuff that’s related to the book. I’m going to have some interesting people on the show and I feel like they don’t get to talk about how they’ve changed or self-improved, and what they think about in regards to how far they’ve come since they’ve started. It’ll be like a mini-podcast and then I’ll sign some books. I can tease this too. The amazing woman who did the illustrations for the book Hannah Nance Partlow was so wonderful to work with and she took one of the ten or so illustrations from the book and turned it into a poster. It’s beautiful and it’ll be given away to everybody in the audience to take home that night.

 

Did you use any super powers today?

My husband is a terrifyingly busy man. His schedule changes on a dime and it changes in a huge way. In these moments my brain will typically start spinning about how it’s going to affect our lives, but today my superpower was being able to turn off my crazy future sight, stay right in the moment, and understand that it’s all going to work out okay. That and I took a really good route to Meltdown today without using Waze!

 

emily v gordon super you

Order Super You: Release Your Inner Superhero! on Amazon.

 

Come celebrate the release of Super You at the Nerdmelt  Showroom on October 6th at 8pm. Click HERE for details.

Follow Emily V Gordon On Twitter.

Check out Emily’s Tumblr, Do You Think You’re Pretty?

Listen Emily’s podcast with Kumail Nanjiani, The Indoor Kids.

Watch The Meltdown With Jonah And Kumail on Comedy Central.

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- who has written 26 posts on Yay! LA | Arts & Culture Magazine.

Steven Ray Morris is an author, musician, cat owner, and an okapi in his next life. Floating around California with detours living in New Zealand, Great Britain, and Japan, he currently resides in Los Angeles until persuaded otherwise. He is a UC Santa Barbara Film & Media Studies graduate and occasionally cosplays as Carl Sagan. Jurassic Park trading cards are his jam. Follow him on Twitter @StevenRayMorris.

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