I'm serious about writing humor
October 2022 Newsletter
This month I listened to an episode of the #AmWriting podcast which resonated with me. Author Emily Henry was a guest and she talked with the hosts about how writers sometimes feel like they should be writing more serious things, but Henry was happy to lean into writing fun reads. On the podcast, they discussed a quote from musician George Michael — when asked whether he was going to start writing serious music he said, “You don’t understand. I’m very serious about pop music.”
As someone who writes in two spaces that are not often deemed serious (parenting and humor), I’m also aware of the push in some circles to write more serious things. But the truth is, I am serious about writing humor, and the process of writing a seemingly simple funny list can often be very painful and time-consuming.
And because there is already a smorgasbord of bad stuff in the world, I often want something funny and escapist to read. When I am reading something more serious, I appreciate it when there is humor woven in, so it makes sense that I want to write what I enjoy reading too.
Thanks for coming to my Ted Talk on humor writing.
Keep reading for a Q&A with Author and Cartoonist Ali Solomon, fall TV, and an idea for when you are feeling down about writing rejections.
Funny stuff and other distractions:
The Instagram account @whohaha makes me laugh (case in point, the joke above)
Fall TV is here! I started Reboot and am looking forward to the new Derry Girls season, which I somehow haven’t started yet but will soon. I’m always looking for more funny viewing options — so feel free to reply or comment with them below.
#Relatable Reductress headline.
Q&A With Ali Solomon
This month I talked with cartoonist and humor writer Ali Solomon about her new book I Love(ish) New York City, which comes out on October 25th.
Can you tell us a bit about your book and how you got the idea for it?
During the pandemic, I saw people fleeing NYC in droves, and article after article declaring the city "dead" or "over." As my husband and I mulled over our own place in the city, it got me thinking of all the things I loved and cherished about my neighborhood (even things that others would think "Is that really a good thing?"). My book basically emerged as a love letter to all the things we love, and love to hate, about New York.
You frequently contribute cartoons to the New Yorker and several other outlets -- what is your cartoon writing process? How do you decide if something should be a cartoon vs. a longer piece?
Haha, sometimes the decision is made for me!
Like a lot of writers, I use the Notes app on my phone to jot down tidbits of humor or stray observations as they come. A few times I week, I review my list to see if there are any gems (it's often like panning for gold in a swamp, but you never know). I sometimes find a cartoon needs more beats in order to tell the story I need it to, and sometimes find only one or two images work (which I can later turn into single-panel gags).
Any advice for aspiring humor writers/cartoonists? Read the rest of my interview with Ali here.
I really like this idea for helping to deal with writing slumps/rejections.
St. Nells announced their line-up of fall humor writing classes with lots of great options.
I find editor interviews and panels to be one of the most helpful ways to get insights into what the editors want. I signed up for this upcoming free one with Estelle Erasmus interviewing Wash Post editor Allison Klein.
News from me:
I appeared on an episode of the parenting podcast Pulling Curls and talked about why I like conferences and parenting alone time vacations on the porch.
I found out my book is a finalist in the “Best Title” category for the Zibby Awards. It’s especially great to be a finalist alongside Susan Cain who wrote the amazing Introvert book Quiet (and I have heard her new book is great and it’s on my to-read list).
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People believe stand-up comedy, writing for sitcoms, and joke writing is easy. It looks easy because when done correctly, it looks flawless.
Taking humor seriously resonates with me too! Thanks for saying so, Julie!