Letters to Inspiring Writers: Ellen Degeneres, I Love Your Point
Dear Ellen Degeneres:
Until last week, all of my Ellen knowledge was hearsay. My little sister is a huge fan of yours. She does a killer go!gurt sketch and a pretty good “let me find my cellphone as it rings” dance. Actually, I should say I’ve heard her impersonations are pretty good. I’ve never seen your performances of these skits.
After all these years (arguably) getting along just fine Ellen-less, why now? Well, a few weeks ago, I was in an airport bookstore in Minneapolis, Minnesota doing my browsing thing. My eyes fell upon “My Point…And I Do Have One” and I had to see if my sister’s hype was true or whack. Naturally, I picked up the book. I flipped through it. I started to read it and I think I laughed, at least, I hope I laughed because spit definitely came out of my mouth and landed on your book. Wait, it was either spit got on it or I creased it a teeny-tiny bit. Whichever occurred, my point…and I do have one…is that I definitely had a good excuse to follow proper shopping protocol and buy the book without worrying too much about my credit card debt or unpaid student loans.
As a newly acquainted fan, you’re probably thinking that I must live under a rock or something. I mean, you’ve been around for a long time. If your book is correct or if wikipedia is as reliable as “they” say, I think it’s safe to assume that you’ve been around since January 26, 1958. Seriously, that’s ages ago! You’ve lived through things that I’ve only read about in history books (e.g. the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade, the Cold War, or K.C. & the Sunshine Band). (Before you question K.C. & the Sunshine Band’s appearance in a history book, please note that I donated my copy of your book to my local library and demanded that they index it under “history.” Your book mentions K.C. & the Sunshine Band on page 110 and a few other pages that I don’t feel like finding right now. …Not that I was counting.)
While I may be an infant in Ellen-fan years, I have no intention on turning my back on you, especially now that I’m finished with your book. No, I want more! I’m going to start DVR’ing your show and seeing if I can rent your stand-up at my local Netflix website.
You may be wondering why go through all of the trouble to e-mail you? Well, I recently started sending letters to writers who are living inspirations in order to ask them one question. After I finished your book, I knew I had to include you on the list! (And, believe you me, before I began this endeavor, I had no idea that you pretty much beg for a question in this vein on your website in the section called “Has Ellen Changed Your Life?” Total coinky-dink!).
As a writer, your style and reliance on tangents gave me hope that I may not be alone in this world. And that maybe, just maybe, I too can make something of myself despite my love for long-winded stories that seemingly go nowhere unless you hold on to the very last sentence.
To picture my usual train of thought, you don’t need to picture a train. You can picture a fly flying about the room, flitting this way then that way. (Note: I thought this would be a good illustration because on page 47 of your book you point out “that’s what a fly does, fly. It’s his job.”)
Okay, so you’re picturing a fly. Now, picture someone with a can of Raid in his or her hand waiting for the fly to land so that this someone can kill it. (Note: I say “someone” and not “imagine yourself” because i know you’re no fly killer (you’re not even a supa fly killa’). rather, to quote almost-directly from page 147 of your book, you’re “a strong supporter of animal rights, [even if you] do feel that some activists go a little bit too far.”)
…let’s return now to the attempted fly murder. The moment this fly lands on the wall, chair, or floor, this someone else makes his or her move. But the fly is too tricky or too experienced with someones attempting to murder him or her with Raid. The fly only rests for a second totally avoiding the poisons sprayed in its general direction. This someone thinks the fly is heading right, but the fly fakes and goes left.
This cycle continues for say ten or fifteen minutes until the person has earned enough approximately $2.00 in “idiot money,” which i believe comes in increments of nickels (see: page 187 of your book).
I guess the short of it is that the fly’s route is like my train of thought. Most people can’t keep up and hate me for making them look like an idiot running around the room with Raid.
…after reading your book, I don’t feel so alone.
Therefore, my one question to you is: other than your self-affirmations (..and you include my personal favorite on page 24 of your book: “Being grubby equals being cool.”), when people judge you for your quirks, when your parents tell you to just be normal, how do you stay positive?