Catching Up With Kelly Oxford, From Tweets to Best-selling Memoir
A lot has happened to Kelly Oxford since we first spoke to her on Art Beat three years ago. The Canadian stay-at-home-mom-turned-Twitter-phenom has capitalized on the whit that gained her Internet fame.
Oxford moved her family to Los Angeles, began writing pilots for major TV networks, penned a screenplay slated to be a movie directed by Drew Barrymore, and earlier this month published her first book, which is now a New York Times best-seller.
In the memoir, "Everything Is Perfect When You're A Liar," Oxford describes herself as smart, but lazy, a trait which she says makes her efficient. That helps when crafting funny observations in just 140 characters and, it turns out, saved her from wasting time when writing her 300-page book.
"I didn't waste any time ever writing manuscripts that were never bought or writing pitches or anything like that for anybody else to tell 'yes' or 'no,'" Oxford said in a recent phone conversation. "I always just put out my own material, and along the way I was becoming a better writer because I was learning whom my audience was and what they liked."
Though she never went to college, Oxford began writing at an early age, creating a fake newspaper for her neighborhood that covered fictional murders and pets that had been eaten. Or, as described in the book, re-writing "Star Wars" as a play for her friends to perform. She started an anonymous blog more than 10 years ago after spending a lot of time online and realizing that places for mothers to communicate with each other weren't very entertaining. When MySpace came around, she dropped the anonymity and concentrated on being a funny writer.
"Being funny on the page is much easier for me than being funny in person, just because I don't have that urge inside of me to entertain, you know, physically or be on the stage or anything like, but I still do feel the urge to entertain and I have since I was a child," Oxford said.
Her family is a frequent inspiration, like in this recent Tweet:
4 yr old thinks I'm an idiot for not knowing how to do her rollerblades up, but I think she's an idiot for wanting to rollerblade.
— kelly oxford (@kellyoxford) April 7, 2013
They also provide fodder for the last chapters of the book.
"By the time we're adults we know what people want to hear. We know what will work in a conversation," Oxford said. "Throughout our life we've learned all of these rules and kids don't know those rules so they'll basically blurt out anything at any time. Occasionally its very embarrassing as an adult to hear it, but it's always so funny because it comes from such an innocent place."
The late Roger Ebert was an early fan of Oxford and helped promote her work, even writing a letter to the U.S. government to help her with her work visa.
"I wasn't getting paid for my work, but then to have somebody like Roger say, you know what, you're doing a really great job, was sort of the beginning for me, to know I was entertaining the entertainers," Oxford said. "It meant a great deal to me to have him on my side and I always loved that the dirtier, the raunchier the Tweet, the quicker he was to re-Tweet it, and I loved that about him very much."