I met Rob Gokee on Twitter and fell in twitterlove with his tweets. Rob is funny – smart – talented – and such a mensch (good guy). He is a composer for films and television series. And, recently, an author. His first book In The Belly Of The Fail Whale, is a great, naked read (how apropos, considering he’s in boxers on the cover of his book).
Writing memoirs, especially ones chronicling financial and emotional hardship is painful in itself – humorous, of course, because we can all relate. In Rob’s book, he addresses that and reminds us how small the world is, and how we can reclaim ourselves. His medium of discovery and reinvention happened to be Twitter over the course of a year.
Whether you’re a social marketing novice or expert, or just a literary voyeur, reading about Rob’s journey, is tragic and uplifting, heartfelt and festive. And, funny. We love humor.
After pleading with Rob to grant me an interview, he generously and graciously did. (Thank you, Rob Gokee. You and The Fail Whale are FABULOUS.)
Meet Rob Gokee, Author of “In The Belly Of The Fail Whale”.
Tell me about you. What do you do for a living?
I’m a composer for film, television & webseries, a writer/author, and a social media strategist. Although those three things are very different, they tie together with common threads and all make up who I am, what I do & why I do it.
Where are you from and where do you live?
I was born and raised in Southern California just outside Pasadena. Not long after graduating high school, I moved to Denver for a few years, and enjoyed living somewhere that had a real winter. Now I never want to see snow again. I moved to Albuquerque to attend the University Of New Mexico, and then came back to Southern California. I currently reside in Long Beach.
When you’re not writing or composing, what are you doing?
There are other things? Honestly, most of my awake life is devoted to one or the other, or marketing myself as both. I love working, and I love everything I do, so I don’t mind spending 16 hours a day doing it. Fortunately, my girlfriend is the same way, so we work well together. When we do break, we like bike riding, reading, socializing with friends in & around LA, and occasionally sleeping.
What made you write The Fail Whale Book?
The book came from a place where I had begun to realize the impact Twitter had on my personal & professional life, and I felt this need to share it with people who didn’t “get it,” and thought it was a waste of time, whether they were trying to market their business or just meeting new friends. Â It was also an excuse to take my pants off for the cover of a book.
Is FWB a memoir?
It is very much a snapshot of 1 year in my life, a turbulent year, and how Twitter played a role in the changes that occurred, both good and bad. Â In a way, the horrible breakup went through was because of Twitter. It indirectly played a role in the relationship’s demise, and it also played a role in meeting the mostÂ influentialÂ person I’ve ever met in my life.
Would you say that FWB is a humor book or would you say it’s a humor SM book (SM as in social media, har)?
That’s a good question, one I struggled with as I was trying to categorize the book myself. It’s a Humor Social Media book, because the point of the book is to show the reader how Twitter can work if you use it the right way. And the way I get there is by telling the story of my life humorously. Which, coincidentally, includes some S&M too.
What was the turning point in your life; the impetus that lead to writing it?
That would be giving away the book. Tsk Tsk. I will say that the idea to write it came during some down time while I was waiting for 4 or 5 scoring projects to start. Â Which they did, the second I announced to the world that I was writing a book. Trying to do both at once was interesting. And by “interesting” I mean “insane.” I wrote music during the day and wrote the book at night.
What made you log onto Twitter and create an account?
I joined in the summer of 2008 and then quit. I didn’t get it. Then I read an article in PC Monthly in Oct 2008 that talked about how Twitter could be used as a marketing tool, and I was looking for something to replace MySpace, so I jumped on board. It still took me 6 months of tweeting to “get it.”
Do you remember your first tweet?
“Giving Twitter a second chance:) ” I actually include random tweets from my stream in the book; they help tell my story and show you just how fearless I am about opening myself up on Twitter. Â There really isn’t anything I won’t tweet about.
Do you remember your first follower?
Hmm. You know what? I don’t. I know that I can check by going all the way back to Page 1 of my Following/Follower list, but that would take hours to do. Â In fact, thanks a lot for bringing it up, now it’s going to bug me that I don’t know. It’s possible that that person has moved on from me too; that happens on Twitter like in life. Â People come and go in your stream, but that’s OK because it’s exciting to me that the opportunity to meet new people happens daily.
How did Twitter reshape your life?
Twitter helped me realize the power of connection. Think of Twitter like a large brain, and we’re all “connected.” In the brain, thoughts are connected by dendrites, or “wires.” If you look at the people you connect with on Twitter, then introduce yourself to their connections, you’re suddenly interacting with more and more people and increasing your network. The more people you get to know, the more your network expands, and the more opportunities you have at life-changing experiences and relationships.
From when you wrote the book to present day, how has your life changed?
If you look at my life like a graph chart, from the time the book was finished until now has been a steady incline at about the same rate it increased during the writing process. The biggest changes that occurred in my life came before I wrote the book, but are the reason I wrote it in the first place.
I ask everyone this, what is your favorite curse word and why?
I really like “Fuck.” It’s so primal and multi-faceted. I use it when I’m angry or frustrated, surprised, or to describe sex. I think it’s silly that people are afraid of it; I use it in my Twitter stream without hesitation, but only when I actually mean it.