Joe Frank on the advantage, to a writer, of not avoiding pain

The late, great Joe Frank [1], who died recently at 79, was memorialized by radio superstar Terry Gross.   She played an interview she did with him in 1989.  You can hear the whole interview, illustrated with tasty slices of his radio shows, as well as read the transcript from which the following was clipped, here.  The entire twenty minutes you will spend to hear the whole episode is time well spent.  (IMHO, LOL!  ROTFLMAO!)

At one point Terry asks him a question that yields what struck me as profound answer.   The answer resonated with my experience, I guess is what I’m trying to say.   Those of us who work on writing thoughtfully about our condition here should have a look at Joe Frank’s answer about personal fears and insecurities. 

GROSS: You know, a lot of your more personal shows deal with fears and insecurities – ones that, you know, we can all relate to. But I wonder if when you take your own insecurities and put them in a kind of persona and make them into an hour radio program, if they’re easier to deal with than they are, say, when you’re lying awake alone in the middle of the night.

FRANK: Oh, yeah. As a matter of fact, by using those experiences for radio programs, you transcend them. You almost look for bad experiences or painful experiences. Whatever tragedies might befall you, you can always, right away, think, well, that would make a great story for radio. And so that whatever happens, even if it has a great negative content, even if it’s painful – because you can then tell it on the radio and share it with many listeners and move people or entertain people, it then takes on a positive value.

And I remember distinctly that – coming to that revelation a number of years ago when I realized that I no longer wanted to avoid pain – that I could use it in a way that was very productive so that it was easier to experience whatever suffering came my way.




This entry was posted in writing.

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