I will never forget when the editor of Cat’s Magazine called me a few weeks after I’d submitted my first, unsolicited essay to their magazine. The first comment out of her mouth was.... “I’m NOT calling to buy your essay.”
I replied, “Too bad, because I don’t take rejection very well over the phone.”
She laughed, then said, “What I mean is...we’re looking for someone to write a humor column about cats. I was wondering if you can do this once a month?”
Now, you have to understand the position I was in. And I’m not talking about the fact that I’d stepped out of the shower to grab the phone and was butt-naked and trying to sound professional. I’m talking about being a true, one-hundred-percent dog person. That said, I knew more about cats than I knew about writing comedy. Honestly, that essay was my first attempt at writing humor. So, I did what any upstanding church-going girl would do. I lied. “Oh, sure, I can do that once a mouth.”
After I dressed and asked for forgiveness, I ran out and bought every book I could find on writing humor. And while I was out, I picked up two cats. One of them, I had to return – my neighbor had spotted me snatching their family pet.
My point in telling you this, besides it being funny, is that some people think you can’t teach yourself to write humor. I ended up writing that column for two years and collecting four felines, and while I might have gotten lucky with that first essay, I seriously didn’t know how I’d done it. I know, I probably inherited my zany way of looking at life from my family, but the actual techniques of writing humor can be learned. Two of my favorite how-to books are: HOW TO WRITE FUNNY, which has a chapter by my one of my favorite writers, Jennifer Cruise, and THE COMIC TOOLBOX: HOW TO BE FUNNY EVEN IF YOU’RE NOT.
And because Faye and I have asked you about what funny books you have read lately, I’ll tell you about a scene that made me laugh out loud. EXTREME BACHELOR by Julia London. The hero sees his ex girlfriend, an upcoming actress, for the first time in five years. He sees her on the TV – staring in a commercial – a commercial about constipation. (See Faye, I’m not the only one who writes over the top.)
So do tell. What books have you read that have made you laugh out loud? Remember, there’s a gift certificate up for grabs.