life as a two-headed monster

Almost ten years ago now, I had the chance to meet Alan Zweibel, one of the original writers for Saturday Night Live. In a freeform Q&A with a circle of students, he talked about writing for television and his creative process.

The thing that always stuck with me was his description writers as two-headed monsters. While I can’t quote it directly here (it was ten years ago now and I don’t want to put words in his mouth), I do remember that he described the phenomenon of two heads: one engaged in every day life and the other observing, taking notes, wondering about live being lived.

my notes from Alan Zweibel’s lecture

Maybe I added the monster part in hindsight, but it seems fitting. It’s helpful to remember being an artist brings with it an awful lot of responsibility. Misusing your observations can easily turn your art into a weapon.

As Lanford Wilson once wrote, “Nobody’s safe around a writer.”