Friday, July 29, 2011
Hope I'm Funny...
I'm still trying to be funny, by the way. I haven't mentioned it on the blog lately, but my column over at PANK, Forgive Him Father For He Knows Not What He Has Done is still going strong. I wrote this about Rep. (soon to be former rep.) David Wu; this about planking and this about a stinky stinkbug.
The title of the post, for the record, comes from the beginning of a Richard Pryor routine. Just wanted to mention it.
I'm enjoying what I do over at PANK. When the editor first asked me to write a humor column, I turned her down because I knew everything that was coming down the pike for me. There was a baby on the way and I didn't know how that was going to affect my time (obliterated it). I knew I didn't have enough time to do it weekly and when the school year is going, I don't. But I felt like I was on the sidelines. The PANK blog got better and better and my competitive spirit was like, "You better get out there." Most weeks I don't have the time, but I get it done. It can be wracking to the nerves, but it's brought me some very important insights about writing.
I like writing humor because it makes you focus on the readers. As a humor writer you are trying to elicit something specific. So in the revision process there is a constant trying out of things to get that specific effect, in this case laughter.
In writing fiction, I'm never thinking about the audience. It's about trying to get the story or novel done. But recently, emotion in writing has become incredibly important to me. Previously, I wanted the reader to admire my language. Get their mind wrapped around the puns. Say, "This guy loves words." It's all so very much up in the head. Now, I want readers to read with their hearts.
People who have read the last version of my novel and loved it all mentioned some sort of intellectual effect that appealed to them. That's cool, I want to make you think for sure, but the stuff that I've loved has had an emotional effect as well. So that's what I'm pushing for.
I've purposely been doing a lot of writing because I felt I needed a new understanding of writing and these new ideas about emotion come in no small part, I think, because of the humor writing I've been doing. In my fiction, I'm thinking more and more about what effect I want to have on the reader.
When I started over at PANK I used to worry that I'd have nothing to write about and that I'd run out of ideas at some point. I purposefully didn't start until I had two weeks of ideas. I think I had one or two weeks early on where I was scrounging. I now have a long list of ideas and then politicians do stupid things and I have no choice but to take it to them. When I run out of shit to write about I'll probably stop. But I'm three weeks ahead right now. Can't wait for you to see the ones coming up.