Art Garfield pens ‘Power Was My Mentor,’ praises Bill Cosby

Art Garfield

Art Garfield
Comedian and author, Power Was My Mentor

What inspired you to write your first book?
I’ve shared this story about hanging with Cosby on the set of his show with friends for years and how I kept showing up after getting fired as the show’s warm-up comedian and ended up writing an episode! They would say, “That’s a book man!”

Do you have a specific writing style?
I don’t have a style outside of joke writing. So in order for me to complete this process, I went with the old adage, “Write about something you know well!” So I figured I might as well write it in the voice that I tell it. So for this first effort that was my style, kinda narrative like.

What books have most impacted your life (or life as an author)?
To be honest, and human, I’m not that much of a book reader. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve read the beginning of many books.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything about your latest work?
Hmm, yeah … I would add some more detail. There is so much more to the story. But I didn’t want to bore anyone, but to my surprise those that read wanted more. So I may do a part two! … lol! …”Power made me a mentor!”

Art Garfield Book Power Was My Mentor

Is there anything you find particularly challenging about writing or coming up with a concept for your book?
Well, [with it] being my first effort about something that I experienced 16 years prior to publishing, my challenge was recollecting the events. Also, should I use real names or not. Would I offend Mr. Cosby with any of these revelations and will I be able to capture the same spirit as I did when tell the story live in front of friends?

What was the hardest part of completing this project?
The last part of this question, completing it. Dedicating time to sit and write and not stop was challenging. I had moments where I would just write a page. Then there were spurts when a chapter or two were knocked out. Then days and weeks or a month and nothing. Going through a personal break up with my girlfriend was a distraction and lowered my motivation. But on the flip side it also motivated me as well.

What advice would you give other writers?
Do it! Just start it from where ever you are in mind and enthusiasm and start jotting stuff down. If you feel it, give yourself the space and place to just brain fart it out and let it flow without the pressures of style, form or structure … just start writing.

Describe the process of getting published.
I self-published. I researched Amazon’s offer and option to submit a manuscript and publish through their site whatever you have and want to publish … plain and simple.

What were the literary, psychological and/or logistical challenges in bringing your work to life?
The literary issue was “Can I write a book?” Seeing some of the myriad types, styles, topics etc of books and there are millions I said, ‘Yes. I can.’ That answer also applies to the psychological. The logistical was deciding if enough achievements have manifested in order for me to confidently feel that what I learned, my takeaway from the experience of being mentored by Cosby and applying those lessons forward in my newer challenges. And I was satisfied with subsequent accomplishments.

Everyone’s process for writing is different. Explain yours. I didn’t need to research anything because the story was in my head. So all I needed to do was be alone and recall the experience. I didn’t do free hand, maybe a napkin note or two while on the train, or at the bar while having a drink and a memory popped up and I would apply it later, but just saying to myself that I need to write and get this story out of my head on to the page was pretty much it. Just do it! Get it done!

Please provide three “good to know” facts about you. Be creative. Tell us about your first job or the inspiration behind your writing.
My first job. … That was stocking shelves in local store at age 11 in my hometown East Elmhurst Queens, New York, but my first real job I would say was at age 40 as an advertising copywriter. Prior to this, after college I became a stand up comedian and actor. I did that for 15 years before the advertising job. But I was uniquely prepared for advertising. Being a stand up we write our own jokes and some jokes are quick stories with beginning middles and end. And as the great ad guru Michael Ogilvy is quoted as saying, “The best ideas come as jokes. Make your thinking as funny as possible.”

With that said, writing a book about my experience with a funny person wasn’t that much of a stretch.

Some other good to know facts about me are: 1) Straight shooter, blunt and funny about it. I’m a text book Sagittarius meaning I’m a good friend till the end or until you give me a reason not to be in which case we never have to speak again … lol … 2) I love and appreciate good people that support the growth of others selflessly and I am the same. I have people that I don’t even remember meeting telling how I affected them positively with a kind word, act or resource that moved them forward in their lives. 3) I wrote a book with no formal training that is being received by people that don’t know me and now feel as if they do which I don’t know is a good thing or not … lol! But my point is, if I can do so can anyone else with a story to tell.

What is the mission you set out to accomplish with your voice in this book?
My mission, I would say to share with anyone either entering or currently in mainstream structured work environment to never give up or allow anyone to deter you from your mission. If it’s meant for you don’t empower someone else to say it’s not. And that there are people appointed to assist you but they are waiting for you to initiate your self in position so they can do what they do and move you forward for the next level of assistance, but you have to maintain a cool head throughout the process.

A great book has what?
A great story and message.

You develop character and ideas by digging from my pool of real people that I know or met throughout life.

Where would you travel if you could to write you next book?
The Virgin islands, nowhere in particular. Just being around that beautiful weather and real strong culture with real people would excite my creativity.

What is the gift of reading and why does it open up a new world?
As a child, reading opened up my mind to a world outside of my daily routine amongst family, friends and school. We have hundreds of television stations that take us in to cultures around the globe, but there is nothing like flipping back the page of a book to relive a written descriptive moment as many times as you like and that you only get from the limitless pages of a book and your own interpretation and imagination.

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