How to Be Alone is one of those books that was so nice I read it twice. I’m not prone to rereads and have only picked up the same book more than once about a dozen times that I can remember. In this case I was extra intrigued to see how the same material would come across as I’d been forced to spend so much extra time alone over the last several months. Without giving anything away, I’ll say that while the big themes of Lane’s life, in regards to her family especially, are heavy, there is a lot of warmth and humor to be found between the pages. Her words are a light in the darkness of our present reality.
Mel Rosenthal: Hi Lane! It’s great to e-meet you (is that what we’re going with now? I feel like isolation has left me extra awkward of late). I’m excited to learn more about you and your work. To get started, where did you start writing the book, either location-wise or chronologically, did you start at the beginning? What was the spark?
Lane Moore: It took me a while to figure out how to tell the story. I really wanted to speak to how loneliness and isolation had been this throughline throughout my life and affected me profoundly in different ways, that all really informed each other. And I don’t ever see that truly spoken about.
MR: How would you advise anyone working on memoirs or other autobiographical material that might address their families in a less than favorable light? Mary Karr’s The Art of Memoir had some good advice but it’s still an ongoing conversation I have with a fellow writer friend. Where do you draw the proverbial line about how much you will reveal? How much do you consider your story to tell when multiple people are involved? Do your friends/family get to see the first draft, and so on…
LM: I considered it very greatly. The point for me was to compassionately convey, “Hey, here’s why I’ve felt very much alone up until now, because I really was.”
MR: You have so many talents & interests, it was so refreshing to read about you pursuing them all. I have a weird background I get asked about often on job interviews because I studied photography but don’t practice it and I write for myself but professionally I’ve predominantly done administrative work, most recently in advertising, and haven’t pursued any paid writing gigs. I’d love for it to be more acceptable to have such multifaceted interests rather than there be a pressure to pursue only one avenue/industry seriously. Can you speak on how you’ve achieved what you have in writing & in music and how others might find it within themselves to do the same?
LM: Thank you! It was definitely a struggle to have people understand that I am fully a musician, and fully a comedian, and fully a writer. I’m very grateful that people seem to love all those parts of me. I love hearing “My girlfriend got me into your band It Was Romance, and I got her into your book, and we go to Tinder Live shows together.” That was definitely what I dreamed of when I was writing for The Onion, and playing rock shows, worrying people wouldn’t understand that. So every time they do now, I want to go back in time and tell myself, “Keep going, people will not only get it, they’ll really love it.”
MR: Can we talk about “That Girl: I just get along better with men.” Any thoughts on how we can start throwing away this stereotype and start supporting our girls from a younger age, leading them towards healthy & supportive friendships with other young women rather than constant competition? (I guess this is the long way of asking how we can just smash the goddamn patriarchy already.)
LM: I would love that. I still see it so often, people who align with feminist values publicly, but they don’t believe their friends who are survivors, or they bully other women online and it’s like, ugh you can’t do both, dude. It’s our responsibility to unlearn all of the internalized misogyny we’ve been programmed to have.
MR: You mention fictional characters you gravitated toward as a child, growing up as a “real life Matilda,” and visiting LM Montgomery’s house. Are your favorite authors from childhood still your favorites? Which modern writers inspire your own humor, or just inspire you in general?
LM: I love Anne Of Green Gables so much. Going to see PEI in the last chapter of the book was just a dream come true for me personally. The writers and the books I grew up with are really the ones that have influenced me the most. I love a re-read.
MR: Like so many of us nowadays you say you live a lot of your life on the internet. It seems like experts (and the average person who’s active on social media) both go back and forth on how our reliance on tech/the internet is detrimental to mental health and is contributing to loneliness while, on the flip side, also allowing us to make real friends and if we need more or less screen time. What do you think? Is social media social enough to get even extroverts through these long periods of isolation? Do we need to work harder at balancing time in nature/being physically active, for example, with the number of hours we spend online? Any new thoughts on online dating (from before or during the pandemic)?
LM: It’s so hard, because we need each other. We just do. And so many people during this pandemic are now finding themselves more alone than they’ve ever been, alone with their thoughts, alone with their realizations, alone with how they feel about themselves and others. For me, I’ve always been there, which doesn’t make it easier for me, but it does make it less foreign. In a way, I’m like, “Oh, welcome! Prepare to sift through some feelings!” This book is a great guide book for people who are just now feeling very alone and isolated, as much as it is for people who felt that way most of their lives.
MR: I love how you discuss soul mates. How did you approach writing about Everett and Max? Waiting for the “but, then...” inherited from your mom’s description of her relationship with your dad is something I’m sure many of us cynics could relate to, when did you first see it “in action”? Are you still approaching new potential relationships with that caution? Are you still looking for Jim Halpert??
LM: I’ve always had to be my own best friend, which is something I really wanted to help people learn how to do in this book, because it’s so valuable. Re-parenting and becoming your own friend, your own partner. I’m still a hopeless romantic and I still definitely want something extremely romantic and I have hope that it’s out there for me.
MR: When traveling becomes a safe thing to do again, where might you go and will you go on your own?
LM: I was supposed to be on tour all of 2020, so the first thing I will do is get back on the road and go to every city possible with Tinder Live and It Was Romance. I love touring so so much, it’s my favorite thing.
MR: What are you working on right now? What’s next?
LM: I just started a horror movie review blog on my Patreon called Practical Tragic that I’m really excited about. And there’s so many other things that I want to talk about but can’t just yet. But in the meantime, I live on the internet @hellolanemoore on Twitter and IG and Tiktok, where I’ve been doing a lot of comedy videos about narcissists. Wayyy too many people relate, apparently.