How To Have An Existential Crisis For Fun and Profit (and Maybe a Few Yucks)

panicking

I decided to take a break from my make-it-up-as-I-go-along Christmas-themed blog novel (blogvel?) and write an actual blog post.

I have to be honest with you.  I have not posted in a while because there just hasn’t been much to write about.  How many blog posts can I wring out of my boring job?  How many blog posts can I get out of a very mundane, pedestrian life?  When I first fancied myself as a writer at around the age of 15, I just assumed that every moment of my life would be fascinating to readers if I could just somehow get my writing in front of them.

That was way before the Internet.  The only way you could get your writing in front of readers was to write a very grumpy, complain-y letter to the editor of the local newspaper, and even then there was only about a 0.01% chance it would get published.   I knew writers who would take out those free ads in the “Weekly Shopper” or “Green Sheets” just so they could experience the thrill of something they wrote appearing in print.  (No names … I promised them I would never admit that to anyone.)

Anyway, that was a long, roundabout way of saying that my belief as a 15 year old that my every written word would be fascinating to the reading public has undergone something of a change as I’ve gotten older and especially since I starting writing this here blog o’ mine.  I realized not everything I write is fascinating or amusing.  That came as something of a blow to my writer’s ego.    Worse still, I realized one day that the stuff I write doesn’t even hold MY interest!  That was an even worse blow, not only to my writer’s ego, but to my ego as a human being.  I now live in fear of having a near fatal accident, because I don’t think I’ll be able sit through my own life flashing before my eyes.  I might very well yawn and nod off in the middle of it.

So, I’ve slowed down on the ol’ blog and have been trying to regroup and rethink what I’m doing here.

I love writing humorous things and making people smile or laugh or even just feel good.  But humor writing is a strange thing.  If I were a stand-up comedian, the laughter of the crowd is instantaneous feedback.  It makes you want to write even more funny stuff so you can hear that laughter and applause.  It becomes a drug and you write and perform more and more material trying to get more and more laughter.

But writing humor is completely different.   You write it … you toss it out there into the ether … and there is no (or very little) feedback.  So you question … was it funny?  Did anybody smile?  Did anyone laugh?  Did anyone even read it?

You don’t know the answer to those questions … so the doubt sets in.  The doubt turns to self doubt.  The self-doubt turns to a kind of depression.  And that leads to a lack of energy and thus a lack of output.  The lack of output becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy of “I guess I just wasn’t that funny after all.”

I think that is why my posting goes in waves.  When I am prolific it is because my confidence is high and thus my energy levels are high.  When the confidence wanes (because of the aforementioned lack of feedback), so too do the energy levels wane.

Please don’t misunderstand me.  I’m not asking for sympathy comments or likes.  I’m just trying to give you a glimpse into a humor-writer’s brain.  The humorist is almost always a self-doubting person who is insecure about their writing abilities … or their abilities to connect with others in a humorous way.  It is no secret that comedy is almost always a defense mechanism.  There is almost always a sort of nervous awkwardness behind every piece of comedy or humor.

Anyway … enough about that.  My next post will be humorous.  I promise!  Or your money back.

 

38 comments

  1. Ok…so you really did make a good impression. My laptop has been wonky so this is my 4th attempt at a reply. My very new and still squeaking blog has been a journey for sure. Your writing about self doubt due to lack of hearing laughter or seeing smiles, I felt that truth too. I am having such a blast and have a sense of pride that I don’t remember having for a long time. Self doubt is there and it can FEEL true but its not. You have a special gift that is meant to be shared. Thank you for your honesty and humor.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, Lisa! I’m very flattered that you had the patience to stick with it for four times! I’m glad you stopped by and very much appreciate your kind words. I just checked out your blog and it is awesome! I can’t wait to read more.

      Like

  2. It’s tough enough trying to write a decent post, much less do it in a humorous way. Humor is definitely a different strokes for different folks sort of thing – much of what passes as humor these days I find inane or cruel. My sense of humor runs to the droll, many would find that dry as dust or completely miss the joke.

    So if it seems like the multitudes of the internet aren’t responding to a bon mot, maybe it’s just because they’re the type who gets their laughs watching a video of some guy getting whacked in the jewels. Who needs ’em?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree, Dave. Most modern humor isn’t funny at all to me. I noticed a very interesting phenomenon starting back in the late 80s. I would hear a comedian on TV and think they were hilarious. And then I’d see them live or on a CD and they weren’t funny at all. When they were not being “restricted” by the rules of TV, they became crass, crude, profane, and wildly unfunny. Sometimes humor lies more in what is NOT said, as in what is said. When the audience has to fill in their own blanks, they will often make it funny on their own.

      For example, I found Bob Newhart’s famous “phone call” sketches hilarious … because we can’t hear what the person on the other end of the line is saying. We have to fill it in for ourselves. All we see are Bob’s very understated facial expressions and bland responses. Compare that to a modern “comedian” who, as in your example, deprives the audience of using their imagination. What’s funny about that?

      Maybe that doesn’t apply in every case, but that’s just my observation. Maybe it is a generational thing, too. I don’t know. If I had the answers, I’d be rich!

      And for the record, I very much enjoy dry, droll humor like yours. So keep it up!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Thanks, Biff. (I can’t say that without thinking of “Back to the Future”.) I don’t really consider myself a humor writer, but on occasion what passes for humor between my ears stumbles out through my fingertips. I think we may have similar sensibilities for humor styles, no doubt that’s why I started following you.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I have a little different slant on the humor-writer’s brain. Yours is much saner than mine. You have a great deal of talent. Me? Pfft… I write what write and if people like it, great. If not, I had fun writing it. It’s not that I don’t care about my readers because I do, passionately. But for me, it’s the process. Unlike you, I’m not really a writer. I just jot down crazy stuff that’s happened to me or the aimless ramblings in my head. For me, taking it too seriously takes the fun out of it and what’s the humor in that? 😉 ❤️

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Oh Biff… Biff Sock Pow… Pow Pow Pow!! Sock Pow! Biff Biff Biff! (I just took a moment to wonder what readers of yours who don’t know me think when they see me starting to ramble like that… LOL)

    I totally get why you feel the way you do… Blogging is a two sided medal. If you allow me to use your stand up image, it is like being offered to stand on a stage with billiards of people as an audience, but 99.9% of them are chatting or checking their emails on their phone, or just not giving a dang about the show…

    You can’t “make” people listen, and you can’t blame them for not listening… But it doesn’t mean your jokes aren’t funny. I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t affect me too from time to time, but I try to remember that I it’s always better to hear one person laugh in the back of the room than to stay home and tell jokes to my mirror.

    Hey, of course, it doesn’t make much of a difference in your everyday life, but you make a girl smile and giggle thousands of kilometers away… When she dares to look away from her *yawn* ordinary life, and takes the time to catch up on your writing! 🙂

    Don’t give up… Your voice is worth being heard 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks, Cyranny! I think your fascination with my name is well-known among people who read my comment sections! Lol! I find it very flattering that my name amuses you so much. 🙂

      And your comment is spot on. As you indicated, WordPress is a very chaotic, noisy, distracting environment and it is hard to get people’s attention. But maybe that’s a good thing. It makes us try harder to get their attention. And maybe that makes us write more … and hone our skills. And, what you said is also true, that it’s better to get our stuff out there and get a lone response from the back of the room, than to not write it at all or to write it and then tuck it away in a desk drawer somewhere.

      And, hey, I’m quite pleased that I make someone far away giggle. That’s why I decided to write humor in the first place. I want people to laugh and to feel good, even if it’s just for a few moments.

      And I definitely won’t be giving up writing. I’m over my pity party now. I’m giving up whining … and I’m going to start writing instead. (Though sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference.)

      Like

  5. They’re feelings I know well, at least. I have a considerable fear that I’m boring or annoying people when I try being funny, and the sillier I try to write the worse my fear is. And I don’t know how to write stuff people feel like responding to, even when they like it, so, all right then.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Joseph! You needn’t have any fears that your writing is boring or silly. It certainly isn’t boring! As for silly … well … being silly sometimes can be fun. And readers get a kick out of it, too. Silliness is just one tool in a humor writers bag o’ tools. It’s nice to pull it out and use it sometimes just to remind us why we got it in the first place.

      As for the magic formula that produces reader responses … I don’t think anyone’s figured that out yet. A lot of it, I think, is just plain luck. It is posting just the right thing when just that right reader happens to be cruising a particular tag we used (quite by happenstance). It’s like playing roulette …but the odds are better in roulette.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Honestly, no truer words. Blogging humor on WordPress feels like trying to make a larynx-less person laugh. Your feedback is so valued by me. I need to reciprocate more often– I’m always reading you, but my antiquated phone doesn’t let me log in properly to comment.

    Have a good weekend,
    Stephanie

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, that’s a very good analogy! WordPress has such a varied audience that it’s sometimes difficult to reach the specific people who might find one’s writing to be amusing.

      I’m glad you value my feedback. I certainly value yours! But I do understand that it isn’t always possible to post feedback on every post we write. Heck, if we did, that’d be all we ever did! But I do appreciate it greatly when you offer feedback. 🙂

      Like

I Love Comments!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s