Eden Sher is an incredible actress, known for such shows as “The Middle” and “Star vs. The Forces of Evil.” However, she is also an author. Her first book, entitled “The Emotionary,” is a funny, insightful look into everyday emotions.
Sher has created an encyclopedia of word combinations to cover every mundane or obscure feeling one might have. The Knockturnal got to speak with Sher about her inspirations, her transition into writing, and what people should take from reading “The Emotionary.”
The Knockturnal: What inspired you to write this book?
Eden Sher: There wasn’t really something that inspired me to write it. It was more like, I have so much inside me, and it had to come out in some way. This was the least destructive way, and the most positive way. Basically, I have a lot of feelings, and I really like words. And then I started this.
You mention in the book that becoming an actress helped you become a writer. Can you talk more about that process?
Sher: It felt like a very natural transition. Writing and acting are similar, in that they both started, for me, in having too many crazy brain farts. When I found acting, I was like “Oh, here’s this thing where I’m allowed to be this way!” But it almost wasn’t enough. That’s what writing is – writing is for people where acting isn’t enough. I’d come home and think “there’s still so much in here!” And while “all the world’s a stage” – not really, because some of the world is, like, a bed, or a living room, places where you have to stop that – I had to come home and pretend-act. If acting is pretend-living, then writing is pretend-acting.
Was the process of writing this book at all therapeutic, or helpful as you went along?
Sher: It was 100% therapy. There were some words that I came up with that were meta-words I wouldn’t have unless I were writing the book. And then those feelings made me reflect on my past feelings, and words I’d already created. It’s been such a long time now, and I feel like such a different person. It’s like going from one season to the other. There was definitely cause and effect.
Do you find yourself using any of these words in everyday conversation?
Sher: Well, because I’m the worst person who’s ever lived, the answer is yes, all the time. I try to limit myself to if I have an actual related story. What often happens is that someone will tell me a story, or talk about a personal interaction, and the first thing that comes to my mind is “Oh, I have a word for that!” But that gets real tired, real fast. Sometimes I think I’m projecting too much of my own insecurities about talking, but then some people are very interested. Then I feel very happy that I brought it up, because then I can talk about myself more. Probably my boyfriend is the happier than anyone that this book is coming out. Just because now I can stop explaining it to people.
How many words come specifically from stories or real life events?
Sher: Oh, all of them. I would say there’s not one feeling that was so in the abstract, if that makes sense. With a lot of the words, the comics that go with them stem directly from my life. Especially the ones where I’m splattered from a box or piano, they didn’t literally happen to me, but most of them are at least based on something real. Actually, this is what I call it – this’ll be in Volume 2 – “factional.” It’s fiction, based on fact. And unless it’s completely fictional, I feel like all of them are a little bit factional.
Speaking of the cartoons, how long have you known the cartoonist (Julia Wertz), and how soon into the process of writing “The Emotionary” did you know you wanted her illustrations?
Sher: I didn’t know her, I emailed her as a fan, asking if she’d do them. That was maybe three or four years ago. I was just a huge fan, she’s amazing, and I asked her if she’d be willing to work on it. I thought I’d never get an email back from her, but I got one that night. We’ve been working together ever since. The craziest part is, there’s a level of crazy that comes with something being so different than you expected. But there’s a totally different level of surrealness when something is exactly the same. When I emailed her, seeing if she’d illustrate this idea for a book, this was exactly what I was picturing in my brain. And I can’t believe it came to fruition like this.
There are a couple of words in the book that were submitted by “Big Time Feelers.” Were those words submitted by friends?
Sher: A couple of those were my friends, yeah. A couple of them, though, were submitted back when this was a website. I’d made a “submit your own feelings” section. It got a little out of hand at one point, since at the beginning, I was personally going through all the words, putting them on the site. At a certain point, I felt like many were so good, and obviously I wasn’t going to steal them. So some of these people are people I’ve don’t know, but I wanted to give them credit. I hope they see it and go “That’s me! Oh my God!”
What do you hope your readers get out of the book?
Sher: This is so cheesy, but I hope they feel understood. I hope their is a sense of relief. I tend to say, first and foremost, it’s not about therapy. I made a hopefully funny book, and it’s mostly about entertainment. I hope it makes people laugh, roll their eyes, chuckle, or whatever. But I hope there’s some unconscious alleviation. Actually, I’m flipping it – I hope the weird, unconscious relief comes first. If not, I just hope it makes you happy you’re not me.