I’m always impressed with new adults who have multi-hyphenate careers, especially when they finds a measure of success right out the gate. A little while ago, I read a few article buy young writer/editor/comedian/internet person-of-note Gaby Dunn. If you’re unfamiliar, Gaby started a website called 100interviews.com, where she interviewed 100 different people. She went on to write a column about the internet for the NY Times magazine, and edit Thought Catolog, and does regular comedy gigs around NYC. It’s all pretty impressive stuff, so I wanted to ask her some questions about how she did it. And who would have guessed, she answered them! Fuck yeah.
First of all, you have a bunch of titles, when people ask you what you do, what do you usually tell them?
I usually stumble a bunch and then say, “Uh, a journalist and I also…do comedy…and write…stuff.”
Between all the things you’re doing, editing/writing TC, comedy performance, radio producing, writing for the Times Magazine, writing you’re own things – are you like a super-organized person, in terms of getting it all done/keeping it all together? Or are you constantly overwhelmed/doing a million things at once/falling behind?
I am very organized. I have a planner that I keep with me like it’s my one ring and I am Gollum. If I don’t write it down, forget it, it’s not going to happen. But I write everything down. Everything. So I am very overwhelmed, but extremely organized.
Do the journalism things you do and the more creative things you work on feel like two parts of the same body of work, or do you think of them as separate pieces of your life/career?
I hope at some point they’ll come together, but I do right now think of them as very separate. One day, I’ll know why I’m doing journalism, and personal essay and comedy — there will be some job that marries all three in a lovely polygamous wedding and everything will make sense. It’s nice to be successful in such different areas, but I do think of them as separate right now and am curious as to how they’ll all make sense in the future.
If you had to pick one to focus on for, say, the next 5 years, what would you say?
Oh, god. I don’t know! Writing. I guess I’d pick writing over journalism or comedy but man, what a hard question. This is like the end of that Elijah Wood movie The Good Son where she drops Macualay Culkin off a cliff. Don’t ask me to do that.
Your first claim to (internet) fame was your 100 interviews project, which was a pretty big/year-long undertaking – do you still think of big projects you want to do – or are you happy working on ALL the small scale things you’re doing?
I am happier doing small-scale stuff for now, but I have some longer projects in the works and I think it’s always satisfying to have something bigger to work on. I have a zillion ideas for bigger projects but I get busy with immediate things that come up — which happens so often now because of the way people loved 100 Interviews.
You have a fair amount of adult-world success under your belt – do you feel accomplished now, or is still just a prelude?
Ha! It never feels like it though, thank you. I think I’m very young and it’d be silly to feel accomplished now. I’m not the type of person who’s like, “Well, I’ve done it all. Shut it down.” I’m a workaholic so I’ll always be working on the next thing, which makes it almost impossible for me to sit back and enjoy anything I’ve already done.
Is this how you imagined adulthood would be?
I think on paper, it is. I mean, I’m making my own money, on my own terms, writing, living in New York City — these are all things I wanted for myself as a teenager. I think she’d feel good about how I am as an “adult” but…
Do you even feel like an adult now?
Absolutely not. I don’t. I spend a lot of time feeling naive or like I have so much to learn, or being strangely self-aware about how I don’t know anything about the world. All the feelings and problems and worries I have now, I know probably won’t matter in five years and yet, I feel powerless to stop feeling them or caring about them. It’s very silly.
Any big plans or projects coming up?
As I write this, I’m in Europe, but when I get back I have some more magazine writing coming out that I’m excited about and I just finished editing a book for the Emily Post Institute which comes out in the fall. I also have an ebook through Thought Catalog that will be published sometime in the later summer/fall. And of course, my comedy show every Wednesday at 8 pm at the People’s Improv Theater. I am always doing somethin’.