Bob Morris on Getting in the Zone

The author on what gives him energy, his dachshund ‘Zoloft’ and the books that have changed his life.

When you have the opportunity to ask some of the most interesting people in the world about their lives, sometimes the most fascinating answers come from the simplest questions. The Thrive Questionnaire is an ongoing series that gives an intimate look inside the lives of some of the world’s most successful people.

Thrive Global: What’s the first thing you do when you get out of bed?
Bob Morris: Wash face and make coffee, scan Huff Po on phone and then read print NYT.

TG: What gives you energy?
BM: Getting in the zone and finding my way to writing something that works, pops, sings. Oh, and helping public school kids with their writing through PEN America’s authors in schools program. English teachers are my new heroes.

TG: What’s your secret life hack?
BM: Learning a new song on ukulele and singing with anyone who’s willing. Better than exercise or even sex. I can’t give you anything but love, baby.

TG: Name a book that changed your life.
BM: Exit West or any novel by Moshin Hamid — his sweet, striving characters teach more about life in distressed Muslim countries than anything in the news.

TG: Tell us about your relationship with your phone. Does it sleep with you?BM: No it stays off in another room. I would like to spank the agency that started Amber Alerts. Hard and on the butt.

TG: You unexpectedly find 15 minutes in your day, what do you do with it?
BM: I pick up my little longhaired dachshund, Zoloft, kiss her snout, look into her eyes and say, “Do you want to go for a walk?”

TG: When was the last time you felt burned out and why?
BM: Opening my play at the Capital Repertory Theater was aggravating, exhausting but ultimately so exhilarating. The best kind of burn out is the creative kind.

TG: When was the last time you felt you failed and how did you overcome it?
BM: My second book, “Bobby Wonderful” about dealing with the death of parents didn’t find a wide audience. I took comfort and finally inspiration in emails from readers who felt moved and motivated by my brutal honesty. I moved troubled people and that’s a privilege.

TG: Share a quote that you love and that gives you strength or peace.
BM:

This is my past
Which I shall not discard
This is the Ideal
This is hard.
 — James Fenton


Bob Morris is the author of the memoir Bobby Wonderful and a frequent contributor to the New York Times. He’s been a commentator on NPR’s All Things Considered and a contributor to the Times Magazine, the New Yorker, Vogue, and Town and Country, among others. His first memoir, Assisted Loving, won an American Library Association Stonewall Honor Book Award and was a Lambda Literary finalist. It had its premiere as a play at the Capital Repertory theater this winter.