Dina Gachman’s blog 'Bureaucracy for Breakfast' has been featured by AOL News, Marketplace on NPR, and Chelsea Handler's Borderline Amazing Comedy site. Her comic book about Elizabeth Taylor is being published by Bluewater Comics this fall.
"Brings sass, romance, and hilarity to the web."
Dina Gachman is the founder of Bureaucracy for Breakfast, a blog that pokes fun at the crazy shit rich people do (because we all need a hearty laugh now and then, especially when the economy is put-put-puttering along like a broken train). Ms.Gachman took a bad experience (getting fired from her job) and transformed it into a writing career that now includes a web comic and a book agent. We’re all kinda jealous.
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Angie Spoto: Why did you create Bureaucracy for Breakfast? How do you think your blog eases some of the pain for those most acutely experiencing the recession?
Dina Gachman: I got laid off from my job as a development exec in film in 2010 and out of frustration one day the words Bureaucracy for Breakfast popped into my head so I wrote them down. Then I pitched the idea of writing a few posts about unemployment to the editor of the site Lost in a Supermarket and he said go for it. We were just going to do five but now we’re at twenty-six. I guess I created it because I needed an outlet for what I was going through being newly unemployed and reassessing my next steps in life, and then the audience started growing so . . . I kept writing.
It started off as a comedic look at unemployment but then turned into a comedic look at the economic divide in general, which most people can relate to. Laughter always helps during tough times and I’m a big believer in combating frustration and fear with humor. My hope is that if someone is feeling down because they can’t afford a mansion or a yacht like Jay Z, or a garden pizza oven like Gwyneth Paltrow, they can read the blog and laugh about how ridiculous those things really are, and feel a little better about their situation. We’re all in it together I guess.
AS: What did you ideally want to result from Bureaucracy for Breakfast when you started . . . and how has that ideal since changed?
DG: I really just wanted to write – I didn’t really have time to write for two years while I had my development job so I wanted to take advantage of the time and get back to what I really loved. I thought it would be five posts and then I could build up a portfolio and figure out the next project or job, and then it just grew, and cheesy as it sounds I really found my voice as a writer through Bureaucracy for Breakfast. It’s changed because of the readers I think, plus I spend a lot of time building the audience through social media. It’s tedious but it’s necessary. I’ve gotten emails from all over, from so many different types of people from places as different as Iceland and Nevada. Then it started getting covered by Marketplace in NPR, AOL News, it got a mention by Chelsea Handler’s Borderline Amazing Comedy site, which all led to where it is now. I signed with a book agent recently and the proposal based on the blog is on submission to publishers now, which is never what I expected to happen when it started. It’s exciting but also extremely nerve racking!
AS: Some might say you’re living the dream life of a blogger. Would you agree? Any tips for those aspiring to become successful bloggers?
DG: I wouldn’t say I’m rolling in money and blogging as I sip Krystal, but doing what you love and having people respond and relate is a writer’s dream in a sense. My blog is a little different too because I don’t post several times a day, but more like several times a month. The posts aren’t quick hits with an image and some hash tags, they’re longer and take a while to generate so if you can post more often that I do – do it. I would say find your topic/tone and stick to it, rather than randomly throwing out posts about things that aren’t related and seem haphazard. You should spend a lot of time trying to connect with other writers, doing freelance posts for other sites who will link back to your blog – basically build your audience and get yourself out there.
AS: How do you promote yourself?
DG: I spend half the day writing and half (at least) promoting via Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, etc. I was anti-Twitter before the blog and then I gave in, thankfully. It’s such a great way to get your writing out there especially if you can’t afford a PR machine to promote your work. I do a lot of freelance writing, and I go to a ton of events. I stick Bureaucracy for Breakfast postcards all over town – it’s a huge part of the job.
AS: Your comic, Fling Girl, is a dating guide for single women in L.A., am I right? How did you come up with this idea?
DG: It’s the story of a newly single girl learning how to navigate the dating world again after a long-term relationship, it takes place in LA which is notorious for its crazy dating scene, but anyone who has dealt with relationships / breakups can relate. I did NaNoWriMo in 2010 on a dare and wrote the novel (or novella) version of Fling Girl that November . . . and then it just sat there. I’d worked with the artist Amy Saaed a few times and one day we were talking about it and the idea of turning it into an online comic book was born. Neither of us knew it would pretty much take over our lives at that point, but it has. We love doing it.
AS: Do you have any past experience writing comics?
DG: Not really. I went to film school and creating comics is a lot like making films in a sense. We’re producing something each month, creating storyboards, telling a story visually. I wrote a comic book about Elizabeth Taylor for Bluewater Productions which comes out this fall, and when I got hired for that job (about six months ago) I had no clue how to write a comic, what the structure was – I barely knew what a panel was. Then you learn. It’s a good exercise in saying a lot with very little. Those restrictions force you to get creative with your storytelling.
DG: It’s based on the NaNoWriMo book but very loosely, so each month I’ll write the script and suggest images, then sent it to Amy. She’ll take some time with it and add her ideas, and then she’ll map it out as far as the architecture of the issue, how many panels on each page etc. Then –my favorite part – we meet and hash it out, add / change / collaborate until we’re both happy with the issue. It’s a fun process. Then she holes up and creates the panels which is a huge amount of work. In the meantime we’re doing a lot of other things as far as site giveaways, content, reaching out to potential sponsors and partners and then – when we’re both exhausted – the issue goes live and we take a breath. Until the next one. . . .
AS: Convince us, in one sentence, why your comic is awesome.
DG: It’s entertaining, fun, fresh and relatable – it’s Wonder Woman but our main character’s superpower is being able to conquer things like cheating ex-boyfriends or lame guys in Ed Hardy.
AS: We hear time and again writers who call the Internet the devil and social media its spawn. We experienced the rise of Amazon and the “death” of small presses. We actually debate about the death of the book as we know it. As someone who’s seen success due largely to the Internet, what’s your opinion about all this?
DG: I’ll always be a fan of holding a book in my hands, keeping it on your bookshelf- I’m the nerd who likes the smell of old books. What’s unfortunate to me is that a lot of publishers, agents, and managers care more about how many Twitter followers you have than about what you’re actually writing, and a lot of “journalism” now consists of making lists (I’m guilty, I’ve written my share of lists for people but you have to get your writing out there). So, yes I agree the Internet has cheapened writing in a way. On the flip side though things like Twitter can get your writing out to people all over the world – it’s really democratic and if you work it right it can be creative as well. I’ve gotten a lot of ideas from things I’ve randomly Tweeted, and a lot of phrases in my writing come from something I’ve spouted out into the ether in 140 characters. It can actually be a great writing tool, almost like a free write (as long as you’re not Tweeting about what you ate or how bad traffic is).
AS: What are you working on next? Not to sound too much like a job interview, but where do you see yourself (and your writing/blogging career) in the next five years?
DG: Besides Fling Girl and Bureaucracy for Breakfast, I just finished the first draft of a comedy pilot so I’m about to dive into rewrites for that. In the next five years I would love to be making a living as a writer, and working in comics, film / TV and working on a novel. One at a time though! I would love to see Fling Girl as an animated series as well, fingers crossed.
AS: Is there anything else you wanted to add?
DG: I guess just my favorite quote about writing, from Paddy Chayefsky: “Stop thinking of writing as art. Think of it as work.” And write every day.