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Former GW editor celebrates life's Awesome Things

Former GW editor celebrates life's Awesome Things

[photo of Neil Pasricha]Neil Pasricha

Neil Pasricha, Com’02, thinks a lot of things in life are awesome. So he started a blog to count down a few of them. 1000, to be exact.

“Thinking it's Thursday when it's really Friday" is an Awesome Thing. "Remembering what movie that guy is from" is another Awesome Thing. "Popping bubble wrap" and "celebrating your pet's birthday even though they have no idea what's going on" are definitely Awesome Things.

Since its inception in June of 2008, 1000 Awesome Things (www.1000awesomethings.com) has garnered a staggering amount of attention. Linked to by heavy-hitters like Wired, Fark and CNN.com, the blog gets tens of thousands of hits daily and has seen as many as a quarter million hits in a single weekend. But most readers don't even know the first name of the blog's author.

"I don't want this web site to be about me," says Neil. "My picture's not on it. My name's not on it. It's not obviously mine. It's not obviously anybody's, because it's meant to be everybody's. This isn't a 30-year-old guy in Toronto's favourite places to eat or stuff he likes to do on the weekends. This is a universal high-five for humanity."

But Neil won’t be able to lurk in the shadows of anonymity for much longer. The web site was awarded two Webby awards last spring, prompting a literary agent stampede. A book version of 1000 Awesome Things, entitled The Book of Awesome, hit the shelves in April. Published by AEB/Putnam (a division of Penguin), the book is available in seven countries and has been translated into four languages…so far.

Regular readers of 1000 Awesome Things are familiar with the author's off-the-wall sense of humour. Neil honed his funny bone as a writer and editor at Golden Words.

"I read it online before I got to campus," Neil admits. "I knew the pseudonyms of the writers, I knew their styles and I knew I really wanted to write for it. I wrote an article in September 1998 called ‘Memories of Full House.’ It was very bad. It probably took me about six months to write and craft. The editors looked at it. They looked at me. I felt terrible, it was like 'What am I doing here? These guys are all really funny.' I think they said 'Let's just take pity on the guy who gave us something to print...we have a hole on page nine.' And the paper was like 10 pages. And the back page was an ad."

The experience made Neil realize that he loved to write for an audience. "I went back every single week for four years."

He's kept all 96 issues of Golden Words three feet away from where he blogs and often flips through them for ideas or inspiration. "Golden Words is a really unique thing....it's amazing how many artistic, talented, bright young passionate people go there...I owe a lot to school and the paper."

But what is Neil's absolute favourite Awesome Thing?

"My favourite awesome thing is #1. You'll have to wait two years to find out." 

[Queen's Alumni Review 2010-2 cover]