New York Times best-selling author, comedian, and actor Eric Jerome Dickey spoke to the Los Angeles Sentinel Newspaper about his new book, Bad Men and Wicked Women. The book takes place in Leimert Park and delves into current social commentary. Dickey, who is a Memphis native, shared his creative journey.
LOS ANGELES SENTINEL NEWSPAPER: You have had an interesting journey as an author. What made you decide to have different creative careers?
ERIC JEROME DICKEY: Just like any creative person, we throw a lot of things against the wall. I was taking acting classes, doing student films, improv theater, and taking writing classes. There were a lot of opportunities I didn’t have access to while I was in Memphis. When I moved to California, I had access to everything. That’s a big part of any career development. You must put in the work that facilitates and enhances your dream.
LAS: You started as an engineer and now you are an artist. How does that jump impact your work?
DICKEY: As an engineer you become accustomed to going from project to project. You are always looking for what your next project will be. When I was in Memphis, there was never a time where I wasn’t preparing for my next project. Before I was published, I gave myself deadlines just like engineering. Deadlines teach you that you shouldn’t work on something forever.
LAS: Can you elaborate on the danger of seeking external validation for artists?
DICKEY: You don’t have to post what you are doing all the time. Many people announce just to seek approval and kudos. I never did that. Even now I just work. If you are into it, whatever profession it may be, just do it. It becomes about the effort and the growth. Acting badly or writing a horrible short story builds a confidence that most people never acquire. The ego can get in the way of being productive.
LAS: What are some words of encouragement for aspiring creative people?
DICKEY: Do it because you want to do it. Don’t jump in thinking this is a guaranteed paycheck because there are thousands of comedians who will never get a Netflix special. You can walk into any bookstore and there are tens of thousands of writers on the shelf you probably never heard of. They still kept their day jobs because they just love writing. Again, if you are in it because you love it, you are going to do the foundation and the groundwork to accomplish your goals.
Bad Men and Wicked Women is currently on sale at his website ericjeromedickey.com and Amazon.