Friday, October 05, 2012

On How I Wish I Could Write Funny

I have a pretty good sense of humor. I crack jokes. I'm fairly quick witted. But when it comes to writing, I can't write funny to save my life.

I know some people don't read me, because my subject matter is almost always serious. I like the underbelly of things. I tend to dig into the deep dark places and set up camp there. I get it; my books are not beachy sort of reads. And yet other people are drawn to those dark recesses, moths flirting with flames.

But I love humorous writing, and I really wish I could do it well without sacrificing the larger intent of my work. Maybe it's because I've been reading a couple of those sorts of books lately -- the first being The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving by Jonathan Evison (you can see my review here). It's brilliant in its ability to both make you laugh and crush your heart at the same time. So too, am I finding The Financial Lives of the Poets by Jess Walter. On the surface, it's about a guy who has lost his job and is about to lose both his house and his wife. Pretty grim stuff. But it's hysterical. I have seriously guffawed in public over this book.

I want to write that kind of book someday. I want to write "The Little Miss Sunshine" of books.

I don't know whether I am articulating this because I have any intention of doing it this book, the one with the bridges and the taxidermied animals and the hurricane. Or if it's just some vague goal.

After the big changes I recently began to implement, my book is shrinking. I am losing thousands of words a day even as it begins to really gel together. Do you know what that feels like? It feels like crap. It feels like the opposite of progress. And then this drunk female reporter shows up the other day, and I don't know whether she belongs in this book or not. But she's funny. She's really funny, and I wonder if she deserves any of these new words.

With every novel I try to challenge myself in some way (whether in terms of point of view, or plot, or style). But I just don't know if this is the book where I write funny or not.

What do you think?


Ashley Ludwig said...

I'm quite the opposite. Going to those dark places is scary. I need a flashlight. I don't want to let go of the hands I cling to. But, in Mammoth, I dared dip my toe, and hopefully found success and a deeper story to boot.

I say let her talk. She'll be slobbering drunk, and funny at night... and in the morning... what led her to drink so much in the first place? ;-) Play. Stretch your wings. I can't wait to see what happens next.

T. Greenwood said...

Thanks, Ashley...thinking she may wind up flying off to another book, but we'll see.

grahamophone said...

The best comincs are those whose comedy has arisen from tragedy. I think. Good luck finding your funny bone!

Angie Myer, The A la Carte Mommy said...

Hmmmm....I wonder if I am one of those people. ;-) Someone who so adores your poetic brilliance...but is too queasy to venture in to the deep end of the subjects. So I promise that I will be the first in line for your humorous book!!!! How about start with a children's book based on the girls; you have TONS of material there! ;-)