One of the oldest and most reliable pieces of advice given to any writer is to “write what you know.” This is great council for writers of all levels of ability, because you can lie about things that you know with a level of detail and conviction that would be completely lacking in a subject unfamiliar to you.
That’s why you find John Grisham writing about lawyers, Robin Cook writing about doctors, and Steven King writing about disturbingly freaky people you probably wouldn’t want to be alone with.
Of course, as a humorist, I deviate from conventional wisdom on a regular basis, writing with great boldness and bluster about the fashion industry, Google algorithms, the Fed, and other topic of which I have no actual working knowledge.
But every once in while, the pressures of life cause my flights of fancy to be delayed or even canceled, and I too must find my way back home to write about the things I actually know.
This usually results in very short articles.
In fact, I am tempted to stop right here before I have to do any mental heavy-lifting, but then again I would hate to have fired up the word-processor for nothing. So here it goes.
What exactly do I know?
I know the frustration of being a philosopher trapped in the unquestioning grind of business efficiency. Or at least I did until quite recently.1
I know the emotional fatigue of investing years of effort in someone else’s dream.
I know the bruised sensation of dusting yourself off after a wild ride, relieved to still be in one piece.
I know that I am whining and grousing like the scores self-absorbed bloggers that I generally avoid.
Clearly, I need some help in finding my way back to the realm of confident humor.
I need a mentor, a guide, or perhaps a new patron saint. Someone like St. Desperous, champion of miscast actors and all those who find themselves in roles for which they are unequipped to succeed.
I could wear a little medallion around my neck in the shape of a broken mask, a reminder to always be myself and not bow and scrape to the whims of those who would label me. In fact, every time I found myself beginning to suppress my identity I could cry out in a loud voice, “Forgive me St. Desperous! The folly is thick upon me today M’Lord!”2
Of course this would not prevent me from being labeled, it would merely change the label being applied.
It would probably go something like this:
Director of New Disorders: “Be sure to keep an eye out for Brent, he’s got HVCWFSD.”
Vice President of Embarrassing Nicknames: “What’s that?”
Director: “High Volume Conversations With Fictional Saints Disorder.”
Vice President: “Oh, that. Why do I get all the weirdoes?”
So now we have come to the big ending. This is the part of the show where I dip into my ample reserves of wisdom and share with you all the moral of the story, wrapping up this whole dilemma with time to spare for a couple commercials.
Except, that I don’t know what the moral of the story is.
- Does the ugly duckling get reunited with his biological family?
- Do Hansel and Gretel learn not to wander off into the woods without a GPS?
- Does Humpty Dumpty profit from his new-found knowledge of gravity?
It appears that I have once again written about things I don’t really know.
I hope that consistency is a virtue.
This post can be found contemplating its own navel at humor-blogs.com
- My sudden unemployment has released me from the old unquestioning grind into an exciting new grind, entirely filled with haunting questions of worth and competence. ↩
- I have actually done far stranger things, but they are all conveniently classified “Spleens Only” and unless you have a spleen-mounted Direct Data Inductor, I cannot share that information with you. ↩