This post is not funny. Because writing humor is hard, y’all.

Today was the day that I was supposed to take a break from my labors and work on a humorous essay that I could sell/publish/give to a journal. Or any publication, really.

I was looking forward to this task, because I like writing funny, because I needed a break from revising some decidedly unfunny parts of my novel, and because August is trickling away to nothing and if I don’t write now, I’ll be up to here in class prep work and nothing will get done.

So I sat down, hellbent on being funny. And you know what happened? I pulled a Fozzie Bear.

Nothing I write today is funny. Oh sure, I managed a funnyish status on Facebook and a moderately amusing tweet this afternoon, but really? Everything else is so much wocka, wocka.

This is not a problem I often have. Normally, I can find the funny in my writing, but I think the trouble today is that I’m trying to be funny. Writing humor is like writing love or writing scary. It only works (for me) when I sneak up on it.  I do best at writing humor when I’m concentrating on some other aspect of the piece.

Photo courtesy of Roger H. Goun, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License on Flickr.

It’s like hunting. Actually, no. My  only knowledge of hunting comes from watching Elmer Fudd in Warner Bros. cartoons, so let me relate it to something I’ve actually done.

Writing humor is like being a jilted education reporter on deadline. You see the school board member who hasn’t been calling you back at a press conference for something else at City Hall. You know she sees you. You need her quote, but you can’t head straight for her or she’ll bolt. So you pretend you don’t even see her, and you sidle up to the Superintendent of Schools and the Teacher of the Year because they’re standing between her and the door, and hell, you could use a quote from them as well, why not? And then, just when she thinks you haven’t even seen her and she can make a quiet escape back to her Suburban in the parking lot, you step right out in front of her and BAM! That slippery vixen is trapped. What’s she gonna do? Vault over the Teacher of the Year and make a break for it? I think not. “So sorry your phone doesn’t seem to be working, ma’am. Lucky we happened to both be here at this fine event. I might have never gotten your comment.”*

And that’s how I think humor ought to be written.


*This specific situation is fictional, but the tactics are real.

A crisis of political identity and a picture of a cat

Last night, spurred by fatigue and indignation, I began a blog about current events. It quickly became political. Then it became emotional. Then it became crazy.

So because I don’t want to be that blogger, I shelved it and went to bed. But I woke up thinking that oh my god, I grew my opinions back.

Let me explain. I’ve been repressing my own politics for a decade. As a reporter, I wanted to appear fair and objective and politically neutral. I’m not saying I always succeeded, but I did refrain from a lot of political discussions. I didn’t register with a party. I honestly did consider all the sides of each situation, and if I argued with friends and family about politics or current events, I always found myself playing devil’s advocate. I’d argue for the side with which I even didn’t agree, just to even things out in my mind, just to make me feel neutral. For a while, I actually believed I had no political opinions.

But now they’re coming back, and while it’s a thrill to not shove my feelings under the rug, I am sometimes surprised by the thoughts bubbling to the surface. The last time I was actively politically-minded, I was in college. Things have apparently changed: I thought I was a liberal, I might actually be a socially liberal libertarian. I don’t know. I’m going to have to do some research.

It’s a little uncomfortable for me to write about this, like talking about religious belief in public,  but I think I should probably know what my beliefs are, because if I continue to spew them, I’m eventually going to have to defend them.

This blog is a little heavy so let me end by distracting you with a picture of a cat. Whatever I may be politically, I at least know that I will always be able to define myself as a crazy cat lady.