When I was growing up, most people used to tell me that I am very funny and that I can make a good comedian. And by most people, I mean my two best friends I spent most of my time with. By the time I got to college, I was somehow convinced that I was pretty good with this whole humor thing. Then something else happened. I volunteered to do simple features for our school magazine. The patron was very pleased with my work, and gave me the praise he thought I deserved. What more, my article was copied and posted on the class notice board for everyone to see what it takes to be a great writer. After reading myself, my flow of words staring right back at me as I reread my article, I decided that I was going to be a writer.
And that is how my passion for writing was developed. I know, you are probably thinking that has to be the most vain reasons you have heard. Some people are spurred into writing by a deeper instinct inside them that tells them they need to get their words and freeze them in print, yet for people like me, it was all by chance and the need to hear the word “Good job, you are really funny, I loved that joke on your article…” Anyway, I hanged on to that glory and continued publishing some more stories on the school magazine. But I guess we were at that age where people are so easily distracted by other ‘important things‘ like hiding the effects of self tweezing gone wrong or a crush who wasn’t acknowledging our efforts to get their attention. Anyway, after my first article , most of my comic work didn’t receive the attention they deserved, or should I say, the attention I thought they deserved.
I moved onto college with my dream to become a humor writer still intact. My first year was spent writing and submitting my articles to publishers I thought would find my writing precious and call me immediately for a contract. I cannot even tell you the number of times I shot up from bed screaming ” Must be the publishers, finally, someone got that joke….” whenever my phone rang. My roommate got used to me doing that and then finally saying
“No, it’s just my mom checking on me, maybe the publishers will call soon. I mean, it’s been months….”
Then some reality started sinking in me. After reading too many letters from publishers starting with “We got your submission but we are sorry…” I started wondering of writing is the thing for me. I mean, I still got random compliments from people telling me that I have comic tendencies, and that my work would make beautiful and interesting comedy. Still, I couldn’t get anyone interested in what I had to write.
Then just as I was almost giving up, I was hanging out with some of my friends when one of them asked me casually:
“Hey, why do you write anyway…”
This was after I had gone on and on, whining about how much I am a loser and I will never get published.
The question got me off guard. I knew I was writing to be published, but I didn’t know what exactly was motivating me to write…
Then it struck me. All these years, I had focused on writing so that I am noticed. The main reason I was doing it was not because I wanted to make people laugh or anything. I was doing it for fame, and it was making me struggle so much to please, that I ended up losing my funny bone.
I decided to change how to approach my writing. I started looking at the funny things that were happening around me, and writing them down without self censor. Even to myself, I sounded hilarious when I read the things that I wrote. Of course I kept submitting, and you should have seen how I yelled and jumped up and down like a toddler when got an email from a publisher starting with:
“We got your submission and we are pleased to inform you …..”