Why I don't write humor

Here's a little trade secret for you...humor writers exaggerate. Yes, the essence of the story is probably true. But there's something in the telling that adds an extra catastrophe here and a dash of embellishment there.

I learned this a few years ago at a writer's conference. I was sitting in a room with some of the funniest writers (and editors) around, being entertained by their tales and contributing my much weaker attempts when appropriate. At one point, someone asked if their lives are really that much funnier or full of calamity than the rest of us. I was surprisingly disappointed to find out that no, they don't really live a life full of hilarity; but they can take a simple embarrassing moment, add some color and create a side-spliting story that leaves the rest of us mere mortals in stitches.

(Sorry, I probably should have added a "spoiler" disclaimer to this post, although many of the funny bloggers have owned up to the same detail.)

I used to read a lot of fiction when I was growing up. I even have a couple of stories in me that seem to want telling, but I'm somewhat deficient in the ability to create details where none exist. The bottom line is that I'm not a good exaggerator.

Now, it's not to say that I don't try to be funny. I do. Sometimes with more success than others, I'm sure. But in the bloggy world, mine would probably not garner a nomination for anything in the "humor" category.

So, if you encounter a mildly amusing post about a disastrous day, or something funny that my kids said, you can be pretty sure that that's just about how it happened.


elaine @ peace for the journey said...

Now, this is funny. I'm not kidding. Let me tell you why.

I'm a funny person (a hilarious person), but I'm not a funny writer. Others have chided me to lighten up with my posts, but it's just not where I'm comfortable. Just today, while out running, I'm thinking about all the funny writers in blog land and how I love to visit their spots; that being said, I agree.

Nobody's life is that funny. If it was, we'd bottle it and find a way to take a big long drink on a regular basis. That being said,

I love a good laugh. And the thing that makes me laugh the most?

Stupid stuff. Stupid stuff being done by...well...people who have little regard for the outcome.

That being said, I'd trade all the stupidity for one great cup of conversation anyday, and maybe even a prayer of "thank you Jesus" sprinkled in.

Does any of this make sense? If not, have a laugh on me.


phil said...

I am not a writer (IANAW). The magazine from which I received my only acceptance went out of business. Indicative, I suppose, of the quality of articles it published.

Anyway, I have read that the secret to being a writer is to write lots and lots of stuff so that eventually some of it will turn out to be profound or humorous or at least understandable. Sort of like the pro photographer who takes 10,000 photos on assignment to get a half dozen published in an article in National Geographic. The problem is, it's easier to snap a photo than it is to write a paragraph. Which is why IANAW.

I've also read (in a book review, so take it for what it is worth) that Malcolm Gladwell in "Outliers" says it takes 10,000 hours of hard work to achieve mastery of a craft. Probably you just need a few more hours of practice writing humor and you'll have it nailed. But what do I know. IANAW. YMMV.

RefreshMom said...

That's funny Phil--just after I saw your comment, I saw that same Malcolm Gladwell tidbit someplace else. I figure 1) I should read that book or 2) I need to add up how many hours I've spent writing to see how much longer until I get there!

Joanne@ Blessed... said...

I LOVE to laugh. Actually our family is usually the life of the party. We have that gift of exaggeration, can tell a hilarious story and be asked to share it over and over again...

But...my writing, though it sometimes can get a chuckle, isn't half as funny.

I've been praying for that kind of gift. Not sure if the Lord is going to answer up for that one though!

Mindy said...

Yes, I do agree that mostly the funniest posts are exaggerated. Unfortunately I do not have to exaggerate the funny things that happen in my life =) They really do happen the way I write them... Really. And they are NOT always funny while they are happening to me! Here is a link to a pretty funny post on my blog. And Yes, unfortunately it DID happen this way LOL!!


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