PILGRIMAGES: Mike Albo, “Writing Through the Roadblocks” (2/6)

Mike Albo

Mike Albo is my humor spirit guide. To see Mike perform is to fall in love with a Solid Gold Dancer trapped in an ironic performance poet’s mind who could win a shape-shifting duel with Carol Burnett. To read his writing is to be able to replay his self-deprecating, witty snark for maximum enjoyment since his delivery is often so breathless you can miss his best zingers. To me he will always be the most prolific, ambitious, Brooklyn-before-it-was-Brooklyn authentic artist bohemian. Ever.

We met when we both worked for the U.Va. campus newsweekly with aspirations to be The Village Voice. In the early ‘90s we moved to NYC to pursue our media/writing dreams. One emblematic night I recall meeting up at Benny’s Burritos to treat ourselves to the broke English major big night out: we split one of their football-sized burritos so that we could each afford our own jumbo frozen margarita (all for under $10!). Until this point, gyms in NYC were utilitarian-type community centers, but at this time places like Crunch and Equinox were opening and group classes were becoming the THING. While club membership was out of our reach, Mike told me about how he built his own step aerobics set-up at home. And I realized Mike is the kind of artist who can go the distance–not just because he has superlative creative talents, but because he’s practical enough to apply his creativity to work-arounds that will enable him to survive in NYC’s hostile economic ecosystem.

And 20-odd years later Mike’s high-caliber comedic career is a testament to being a survivor of the fittest. His flair for fantastic physical comedy features prominently in his monologues and Unitard comedy troupe sketches. He’s the rare heady humorist who can also Bob Fosse the hell out of a line.

This week Mike’s posts will take you on a pilgrimage with him to literal and figurative new frontiers that he has encountered on his creative trajectory–and on his road to spermhood!
~Victoria C. Rowan, Ideasmyth Creatrix-in-Chief


SpermHood_Albo-FINALS3Recently I was taking a trip with two fellow journalists. We chatted about what we have been working on. I mentioned I have written two novels and I can’t believe they ever got published. My travel mates were both writers, and since I have yet to meet a writer who doesn’t yearn to complete something longer and more lasting, I asked: “Have you thought about a big project, like a book or play?” And then I got the response I often get when asking this: “I don’t know if I really have a story in me”…and “Well I was going to write about [insert subject here] but [insert author here] wrote about it, so why bother.”

There are so many ways we thwart ourselves from expressing. And one of the first roadblocks is to dismiss our creativity as being unworthy or inherently uninteresting to others. It’s like you create doubt about your worth before you can even get anything down on paper.

In the car with my fellow writers, I became an urgent cheerleader. “No! You HAVE to write something that matters to you!” I get like this often. I think it’s because I need to tell myself this all the time, too, because my mind LOVES to argue myself out of feeling like I matter. My ability to doubt myself is strong, and can slow down my creative energy until thoughts drag sluggishly like cars inching along to the Holland Tunnel at 6pm.

I gave my writer friends (and myself) two pieces of advice:

a) Someone else may have written about the thing you want to write, but everything has already been said anyway so who cares. No one has said it the way YOU will say it.

b) Make your pile. The only way to get past the doubt roadblock is to get stuff down. Type out everything you can. Then print it out and carry it with you everywhere.


Photo credit: Erica Freudenstein

~~~Mike Albo is a writer, performer, author, comedian, and self proclaimed “thwarted poet”. He is the author of two novels (Hornito, The Underminer), a novella (The Junket), and, because publishing is weird now, an ‘ebook’ called Spermhood: Diary of a Donor, out this month on Amazon’s Kindle Singles. He is also a performer, having mounted 6 solo shows including Spray, My Price Point, and The Junket, which appeared Off Broadway at the Lyn Redgrave Theatre in 2014. He is transforming Spermhood into another solo show, slated to appear at Dixon Place in May 2016.

Posted in Book Biz, Book Ideas, Communications, Creative Process, Featured Creatives, Good Ideas, Inspiration, Pilgrimages, Writing, Writing Education and tagged , , , , , .