Transcript of the Recent Panel Discussion with the Sunshine Jen Writing Team Recently, the Sunshine Jen writing team participated in a panel discussion about the work they do on the Sunshine Jen column. In front of an eager audience of 100 writing students, aspiring wordsmiths, and some stoners in the back, the Sunshine Jen writing team broke down their creative process, gave insight into their collaboration, and discussed their past successes and failures.
Below are transcribed excerpts from the panel discussion with Patreeecia Bachata (PB), Summer Kandinsky (SK), Donal Mullan (DM), and Joe Schmoe (JS). The panel was moderated by Tea Lipton and will be broadcast on C-Span sometime in the coming months.
TL: First I would like each of the panelists to introduce themselves, talk about their role on Sunshine Jen and how they became involved in the first place.
PB: I'm Patreeecia Bachata. I am the creative director of Sunshine Jen. I got involved when I got a call from my agent. The Writer Goddess Jen was looking for a CD, so we met, did lunch, and hit it off.
TL: So you've been involved since the beginning.
PB: From Day One. Writer Goddess Jen was very clear about what she wanted, so it was easy to direct the column along her vision.
SK: Hi everyone. I'm Summer Kandinksy. I'm the tone setter and office clown on Sunshine Jen. I like to say that I put the Sunshine in Sunshine Jen.
DM: God save us all.
SK: Hahahah. I write a lot of the funny pieces and the pieces that start off with a point and then float off into nothing. Heeheeeheee.
TL: And how did you become involved with the project?
SK: Ohhhh! I was just hanging out at the beach one day and met The Writer Goddess Jen. It was a very sunny day when we met.
TL: And Donal.
DM: Donal Mullan. Travel writer for Sunshine Jen. I write all the pieces deal with travel. Yeah. Travel.
TL: I think it's worth mentioning that Donal just got off a plane from Dublin this afternoon to talk with us tonight. How are you holding up?
DM: Can't complain, and if I did, who would listen.
JS: Hi. I'm Joe Schmoe. I'm trivia manager and chief researcher for Sunshine Jen. I deal with all the details that make up Sunshine Jen. If a word is misspelled in a final post, it's my fault. However, the Finnegans Wake apostrophe was not my fault. I was on vacation that week.
TL: Actually, that segues nicely into my next question. How does a piece get on Sunshine Jen?
PB: Well, we're generating material all the time.
DM: Some of us write words too.
PB: Then the four of us sit around a table and discuss the words. We must all be in agreement for a piece to go forward.
TL: And how often do you agree or disagree?
PB: Most of the time we agree. Sometimes a writer might have to go back and rewrite a piece before we go forward with it.
TL: Then how long is it between agreement and posting.
PB: Sometimes days. Sometimes hours. It all depends.
JS: Sometimes there are a lot of misspellings.
PB: But we all must be in agreement or the piece is not posted.
TL: And for each of you, what is your favorite Sunshine Jen piece?
PB: My favorite is the one about the breakup of 30 Odd Foot of Grunts even though most of that was the work of the news bureau.
JS: I hear they're back together again. They played a gig in France.
PB: Really? I should look into that.
SK: Wellllll, I would have to sayyyyy that my favorite is the Princess Leia, I mean Carrie Fisher, piece.
JS: For me, no one particular piece springs to mind, but I like the ones about the movies because I can check names on the Internet Movie Data Base. IMDB All the way!
TL: And Donal?
DM: Lime Juice.
TL: Now we're going to open it up to questions from the audience.
Audience Question: Oh my God, I can't believe I'm talking to the Sunshine Jen writing team. You guys totally rock! My question is for Donal. Why did you spend so much time in Athlone during the last Ireland series?
DM: Uhhhhh. My Girlfriend lives there. (laughter) But seriously, Athlone is a nice little town on the banks of the mighty Shannon river, and every tourist should go there. They even have a mall.
Audience Question: Hey Guys, love the column. I was wondering if you talk about the computer equipment you use to generate the Sunshine Jen experience.
PB: All of the Sunshine Jens are posted off public PCs at the library down the street. It goes along with the whole Sunshine Jen doesn't own a computer concept. But, since the column has started, The Goddess Writer Jen has bought a computer, but she won't let any of us use it.
Audience Member: I have two questions for Summer.
Audience Member: First of all, are you single?
SK: Uh, I have a boyfriend and he's bigger than you.
Audience Member: My bad, apologies. And could you take us through your writing process?
SK: Suuuuure. Usually I'm sitting on a beach and the sun is shining and the waves are rolling into shore and suddenly I have a thought and I have to write it down, so I pull out my Hello Kitty journal and write it down. And then I think of something else, so I write that one down too. And I like to write in pink ink. It makes me happy.
JS: And I like green ink.
PB: Blue or black for me. I'm a traditionalist.
DM: I write mine in blood.
Audience Member: What kind of paper do you use?
PB: White legal size legal pads and yellow post-it notes.
Audience Member: Donal, I want to be a writer just like you. How do I do that?
DM: Oh I don't fucking know. You just write the fucking words, one word, then another, then a fucking sentence, then another, then another. Then you fucking tear it up because it's fucking bullshit and you fucking start all over again. Then maybe, just maybe, you write something that makes a bit of sense to you in this crazy fucked up world. . . .don't be like me. Don't fucking be like me. I don't even want to be like me. Just be yourself. Just go off and fucking be yourself and write if you want to.