I’ve known of Vikki since the early days of my time as a blogger. She was one of the Fabulous Humour Bloggers I looked up to, and marveled at the suave, sophisticated, and effortlessly slick way she could pull off a story about kitchen disasters or fitting into too-small-underwear, or not acting her age and striking calamity as a result, and then swan off (glamourously, with a smile of satisfaction) leaving behind an audience of people gasping for breath and holding their sides as tears of laughter streamed down their cheeks. I suspect Vikki might have a different take on her status, as is her prerogative, but that’s always been my experience of her, and I’m honoured to introduce such an incredibly funny (and warm (and supportive (and friendly (and beautiful)))) woman to you today.
Er, VIKKI! HI! So pleased to have you here at A Slip of the Lit, and thank you very much for agreeing to be part of this. As you (and most readers) are aware, my blog tends to stay much more in the zone of the accidentally ridiculous than the intentionally hilarious, so by way of introduction, what do you tell people about your writing?
I don’t do a lot of self-promotion in conversations with people I meet. It feels a little too much like “Look at me! I have a book out! Yay me!” then finding out later that they discovered the cure for cancer and never mentioned it. If someone asks, then I’ll say I’m a midlife humor writer and Parkinson’s advocate. Hubs, however, has no shame. He carries a stack of my business cards and bookmarks, and hands them out to everyone we see, with a short spiel of how funny the book is and why they need to get on Amazon.com and buy one today. I just stand there and try to look intelligent enough to have actually done what he’s claiming.
Bless your boots! He sounds like a fabulous supporter, and it’s lovely that he tells people how proud he is of you. I have no doubt at all that you can pull off an intelligent look (wait – did that sound insulting? It wasn’t meant to! I promise! EEEEEK! Er… *moves swiftly on*) What’s your earliest memory of writing?
I didn’t get serious about it until high school, when I fell in love with public speaking and began speech writing. Watching presentations unfold as my ideas developed was magical, and I was hooked. When I discovered, in my 20s, that I could make people laugh, humorous public speaking became my greatest love. It still is today.
You’ve mentioned that you’re a Parkinson’s advocate – is this why you decided to write the book?
I’ve seen so many people (including my mother) with Parkinson’s, and having such struggles with how to cope emotionally. And then, of course, I was diagnosed. Learning to laugh at the goofy effects this disease has had on me personally, I wanted to share the concept of laughter in the face of Parkinson’s with other “Parkies.” Laughter brings us closer together. It brings healing. But most importantly, it brings hope. I figured the best way to get them laughing at themselves was to get them started by laughing at me. The book, “Shake, Rattle & Roll With It, Living & Laughing with Parkinson’s” is a collection of my most embarrassing moments dealing with this disease. It was written to bring laughter into the lives of Parkinson’s patients and the people who love them.
I remember the day that you revealed on your blog that you’d been diagnosed with Parkinson’s. It was a stilling day, because it was such a far cry from your usual fare, even though you ended with determination and hope. It was incredibly brave. How has your diagnosis and open acknowledgement of the condition impacted your writing?
I’ve always been a lover of all things goofy. Goofy is funny. But before Parkinson’s, I never realized writing could be goofy and still make a difference. It’s also made me much less self-conscious about what I admitted to, in writing. But, what the hell, by the time you write about needing your husband to hold onto your Spanx while you jump up and down to get into them because you no longer have the hand strength to get them on by yourself, you’ve pretty much exposed your belly to your readers.
I suppose so, and yet it helps, and it clearly gives something back to you, too. What would you say drives your passion for writing?
I’m a wordsmith. I’m also undiagnosed OCD. So when I write, I’m constantly driven to find exactly the right word, in exactly the right place, to make a sentence work. I’m always in awe of writers who can sit down, bang out a great post, and publish it on their blog in one sitting. I write the first draft, which is usually crap but has the general idea, then spend 2-3 weeks checking in on it from time to time, replacing words or changing sentence structures, editing, deleting, rearranging, adding and subtracting text. And I love that process. It’s like a craft that you’re compelled to keep trying to get better at.
I’m also passionate about making people laugh. It just makes me happy. Nothing makes my day like getting a note that says, “I read your post this morning, and spit my coffee out when I burst out laughing.” It doesn’t get any better than that.
No, I can see that level of validation making it all worthwhile. SO, it’s time to prove yourself. Write something to Make Us Feel. If you would. Please and thank you…
“Hubs and I decided to snuggle in with a little wine and a good movie, but I told him I needed to take care of a couple of things first and he just needed to watch something else for a few minutes until I was ready.
As I was restocking the Diet Coke, I noticed the fridge shelves seemed sticky, so I gave those a good wipe down. When I put the laundry in the dryer, the front dryer door had fingerprints all over it, so I washed that down. Took the garbage out and saw some empty boxes in the garage that needed to be broken down for pick-up the next morning. Did that. Decided to close the blinds in the dining room, but saw lint on the area rug on the way, so I gave it a quick vacuum. Almost ready, but wanted to wash my face first. Then noticed the empty toilet paper holder and filled that (in both bathrooms). Done.
I burst into the living room and smiled, “Okay, I’m ready!” “Ssshhh,” Hubs replied, “I started ‘Titanic’ and there’s only five minutes left. You’ll have to wait.” Well, fine.
Apparently “a few minutes” is a highly subjective concept.”
*snorks* Oooooooohboy! Well you’ve had great reviews for your book, and I love that it helps to promote understanding of Parkinson’s and compassion for those whose lives are touched by it. What can we do to best support you as an author?
Buy my book. *snort-laugh* I’d really love some more positive reviews on Amazon.com, and I’d be happy to return the favor. Apparently, Amazon.com starts paying attention when we reach 50 reviews. Let’s get us all there!
Vikki Claflin is a humor writer, author, and inspirational public speaker. Her recently published book Shake, Rattle & Roll With It: Living and Laughing with Parkinson’s chronicles her hilarious, and sometimes poignant journey dealing with Parkinson’s disease,. Shake, Rattle & Roll With It is available online at Amazon.com, where it was recently added to Amazon.com Editor’s Favorite Books of 2014. Vikki writes the award-winning humor blog Laugh Lines. Find her at http://laugh-lines.net