Today I went to a conference about finding your funny bone and writing humor for children. Our speaker was the amazing Mary Hershey, author of “My Big Sister is So Bossy She Says You Can’t Read This Book” and has a new book coming out in Spring of ’07 called “The One Where the Kid Nearly Jumps to His Death and Lands in California” (Razorbill). Just from the titles, you can tell this lady is funny.
And she was. Not only did I giggle (often) but I really learned something today! (Man, I sound like Kyle at the end of every South Park episode. Or is it Stan that always learns something?) Anyways, what I learned was this:
"Normal people have a bad childhood and get therapy. Humorists have a bad childhood, get therapy and write humor to pay the bills."
Wow! I’m NOT normal. I knew it!!!
But that’s not all I learned. Did you know that when you laugh, fifteen facial muscles contract!?
Yep. I could eat donuts all day if I’d just laugh a few million times a day. Brilliant!
But here’s the thing. Mary had us do some writing exercises that totally and completely led me down a path to a story that I knew I wanted to write some day, but had no idea how to go about it. We wrote about our childhood, but not in a specific “tell me about the day your dog died” kind of way. It was very general to explore the overall themes of our own lives.
When we were finished writing, she had us circle the themes we found in our childhood story and then list the top three themes that resonated with us most. “That is your truth,” she said. Then she had us go back to a previous exercise where we wrote about an obsession we have. “Combine your obsession with your truth,” Mary said. “You have just found your funny bone.”
A chill went up my spine. Looking at the words on my page…she was right! I had a truthful storyline with humor…just waiting to be written. What a gift.
Thank you, Mary for a wonderful afternoon. You are one funny lady.
(And you have FABULOUS shoes!) :-)