Thursday, November 1, 2012

Another Piece from Absolute Write: "An Interview with the Author of a Bedside Classic"

Not all best selling writers pen best selling novels, magazine articles or even blogs. Some widely read author's work can be found in most unexpected places.

Thaddeus Waxingburg is not exactly a household name, but his writing can be found in virtually every American household. Though he has written innumerable legal briefs and office memos throughout his sixty year plus career, undoubtedly his claim to fame, perhaps immortality, will be found in these words: "Warning: the removal of this tag is illegal. Violators will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law."

I interviewed Mr. Waxingburg in his office in Pueblo, Colorado.

Question: Mr. Waxingburg, did you ever imagine when you wrote the text for that first mattress tag that those words would enter popular culture?

Waxingburg: I should say not. I considered it to be standard legal boiler plate at the time. But I suppose many great writers throughout history had not an inkling of the lasting impact of their work. Shakespeare probably thought "Romeo and Juliet" was just another high school play in his time. Chaucer probably would have been happy if his tales appeared as humorous anecdotes in Reader's Digest. Sometimes the writer is the last one to recognize his own genius.

Question: So you didn't think this particular work would be remembered?

Waxingburg: I always thought I'd be remembered for my briefs. Unlike former President Bill Clinton who will be remembered for his boxers. Referring, of course, to Candidate Clinton's infamous appearance on MTV in which he was asked about his underwear preference. A bit of whimsy. I hope the reference is not too dated for your readers. That's nearly two decades ago. Do you think that will adversely affect the humorous nature of the remark for your readers?

Question: I don't think the age of the reference will have any impact on their amusement. Speaking of humor, have you been surprised by how often your mattress tag has been used as a source of parody?

Waxingburg: I wasn't aware that was taking place.

Question: You know, like the cartoons that show the police breaking into a home and hauling off someone who tears the tag off a mattress.

Waxingburg: But the law does not apply to someone pulling the tag off a legally purchased mattress in their private residence. I suppose I can see how some would not understand that. The tag should not be remover in the store, but after the sales transaction has taken place, the restriction would no longer apply.

Question: Well, yes, I suppose that misunderstanding is the very source of the humor.

Waxingburg: Oh. Yes. Very funny stuff, that.

Question: Finally, Mr. Waxingburg, as a writer whose work has stood the test of time, do you have any advise for aspiring writers?

Waxingburg: Yes. Avoid adjectives. Notice my most famous work eschews adjectives of any kind.

Question: Actually, "full" is an adjective, isn't it? As in "Violators will be prosecuted to the 'full' extent of the law?"

Waxingburg: Oh, I suppose you're right. But usually adjectives are very, very, naughty bad. Also, writers should remember the essence of writing is words, finding the good words, really the best words, and then putting them in the order that would be the order that would be the best and most concise in which they can then be put.

Question: Thank you, Mr. Waxingburg, I'm sure those words too will stand the test of time.

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