Even more reading about writing

Another day without Andy, another Atlantic Monthly article.

Riley spent most of his day going between the two pillows I laid flat on the couch, taking turns lying on each. Sadly I am not that easily entertained. Instead, I spent most of today tearing up over television (We Are Marshall and Grey’s Anatomy reruns) and cleaning. Much more interesting, right?

Aaaanyway…

Once you get past the intro, “Writing, Typing, and Economics” is pretty good, contrary to what its title might suggest.

All writers know that on some golden mornings they are touched by the wand — are on intimate terms with poetry and cosmic truth. I have experienced those moments myself. Their lesson is simple: It’s a total illusion. And the danger in the illusion is that you will wait for those moments. Such is the horror of having to face the typewriter that you will spend all your time waiting. I am persuaded that most writers, like most shoemakers, are about as good one day as the next (a point which Trollope made), hangovers apart. The difference is the result of euphoria, alcohol, or imagination. The meaning is that one had better go to his or her typewriter every morning and stay there regardless of the seeming result. It will be much the same.

The best place to write is by yourself, because writing becomes an escape from the terrible boredom of your own personality.

And one of particular interest to me, She Who Cannot Be Funny To Save Her Life:

I would urge my young writers to avoid all attempts at humor. … Humor is an intensely personal, largely internal thing. What pleases some, including the source, does not please others. … Also, as Art Buchwald has pointed out, we live in an age when it is hard to invent anything that is as funny as everyday life.

Hmm, should I let Dooce and Jon Stewart know? Oh wait, their humor IS based on everyday life.

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4 Comments

  1. najla

    She Who Cannot Be Funny To Save Her Life

    hahahaha! That kinda cracked me up. And I feel ya on that one. Though I think of myself as a somewhat (or sometimes extremely) funny individual in person, I cannot, for the life of me, write anything that’s actually funny. Because you’ve gotta set up the context and it’s gotta be obvious without it being IN YO FACE or it’s just stupid and clearly seems like an awful attempt at humor. And though it’s been a while since we’ve hung out, I have to tell you that you’re pretty funny. It just doesn’t transfer to paper for all of us – myself included.

  2. Aw, thanks, Najla!

  3. Yeah — I’ve had some pretty big flops trying to be funny in stories, so I try to settle for quirky. Something that could make you chuckle maybe, but not laugh.

    I like that part about a writer being like a shoemaker — I think I spend too much time waiting for that cosmic connection that isn’t really there.

  4. Haha, yeah, I used to as well. It’s a hard habit to break, because man, when lightning strikes, it sure feels good.

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