I think reading the Good Omens script book is helping me realize things about my own writing and how I’ve been sabotaging myself.
Of course, I understand, reading any and all books are helpful for writers in their own writing. But honestly, I recently realized that I’ve been taking myself too seriously. Not that I shouldn’t work hard. I need to buckle down and work more, write more, read more. What I mean is until about the last year or so, I’ve been imprisoning myself in a cage where my fiction has had to be one way because that’s the way.
For a long time, I’ve considered trying to publish humorous essays in the style of David Sedaris. His writing taught me that embarrassing personal experiences can make for hilariously good writing. My life is steeped in embarrassing personal experiences.
In the sort of “personal essays” I write for my blog, I use humor freely. My obstacle in my fiction writing is that I have been stuck in a mindset that I can’t be too silly. And to those who know me best, Donnell being not silly, is like “What the fuck?” Because the Donnell everyone knows is silly as fuck. There have been two things I’ve been told for a long time: That I’m funny and that I am good at story telling/manipulating language in a way that makes people want to read/hear my stories. It’s just that I’ve been too stuck the last several years on different editors’ submission requirements, and trying to shape my writing to fit particular magazines’/journals’ expected styles. However, reading Neil Gaiman using a phrase like “glares glarefully” and reading in his intro where he explains he added jokes into the scene descriptions that didn’t exactly amuse the TV production folks, made me realize I’ve been going about this all wrong for too long. I have been thinking this about my writing method for months, but reading the Good Omens script book has really opened my eyes about it. Of course, as always, there’s a Queen song that goes along with my story. (Because, in case I forgot to mention it a million times, I’ve been obsessed with Queen since I was a kid.)
“Oh, don’t try so hard. Oh, don’t take it all to heart. It’s only fools. They make these rules. Don’t try so hard.”
On the album Innuendo, recorded from March 1989 to November 1990 and released in February 1991, there is a song titled Don’t Try So Hard. Written by Freddie Mercury, when he knew he was at the end of his life. It’s an amazing song. For years I’ve listened to it and related to it in different ways depending on my current life situations. It’s been stuck in my head a lot lately. It’s been in my head on and off over the last 7 years during AJ’s illnesses and disabilities, thinking it was maybe telling me that I’m overworking myself in that arena- the role of primary caretaker. So many people tell me all the time how well AJ is doing and has done, and that it’s because of me. But, they also make sure to tell me to take care of myself, too.
In the last month or so, though, I’ve really finally opened my eyes to the idea that I’m hurting my writing by trying too hard. Don’t Try So Hard is a song written by a man who knew his life was ending, and who had one of the most prolific careers in entertainment ever. So what is the song telling me? Or more accurately, what is my unconscious telling me via Freddie’s voice right now at this point in my life? I really believe it’s that I have to relieve myself of the chains in which I’ve bound myself regarding my writing. I have to let my mind do its thing- be silly and tell stories. Not that I can’t or won’t write serious material anymore. It’s just that I’m not a dramatist. That’s not me. Comedy gets little recognition in entertainment, except from the audiences. I’m not writing for editors who want “literally fiction”, “speculative fiction”, and whichever of the other hundreds of preferred types containing some kind of deep meaningful societal dialogue; I’m writing for the audience. For you, the readers.
Monty Python has taught me that comedy can still make people think about deep shit.
You can laugh and contemplate the universe at the same time. Douglas Adams taught me that, too. And most recently, Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s Good Omens (because somehow I hadn’t learned of it until 2019, which I’m frankly embarrassed to admit).
Still there are times you just have to go in for the laugh, and that’s great, too. Laughing is fun. I love making people laugh. It’s probably my favorite thing to do while interacting with others.
I’ve realized I’ve been trying too hard, holding my own head under water trying to fit a model that I’m not. It’s time to remedy that.
We’ve all seen these commercials, I’m sure. “Are you feeling less than fresh DOWN THERE?!” Down there. Because we can say penile forty-seven times in one 30 second commercial, but God forbid anyone say vagina. “Is your hoo-haa smelly?” “Do you have swamp rot of the nether region?”
Yes, we’ve felt less than fresh at times. It happens. It happens to the best of them. Sometimes down there just isn’t up to par in the freshness department. But why do these commercials always take place at the beach or something? Let me state something right now, on behalf of all humans. Do not-repeating Do Not-go to the beach, public pool, or any such equivalent if your womanhood is feeling unclean. Please. We do not want to share your unfreshness. No one wants to stew in the crotch rot of others. (Maybe some people, because I’ve seen things-bad things-and there are sick people in the universe.) Just stay out of the water, for the love of your fellow humans.
I’m not judging. I’ve already said it happens. The CDC wouldn’t recommend it, though. And neither do I.
We ladies know how it is. We don’t always discuss it, maybe only in certain company. But it happens. The vagina is a complex organ, okay. Unexplainable shit happens in that area. It’s especially confusing to non-vagina owners. If you have never owned a vagina, do not try to understand one. I don’t understand that bitch, and it’s mine. What the fuck is happening down there sometimes?
I also want to share something with non-vagina owners on behalf of all vagina owners. Click Here. Learn it. Live it. Love it. It’s not that difficult. Y’all can find prehistoric ancient cities buried under the ocean, but you can’t find that shit. It’s not that hard. There’s a diagram and everything.
September is the month designated for Childhood Cancer Awareness, but for the patients and their parents, it isn’t confined to a month. It is a lifetime.
This is a very informative infographic from St. Baldrick’s Foundation concerning childhood cancer stats, money allocated by the government (very little) to the cause, and where your donations may go when you donate to a cancer foundation.
I also urge you to click the graphic to visit St. Baldrick’s website. Thank you.
I wanted to make my first ever vlog, however, I couldn’t get my video to upload to YouTube or Dropbox-or anyplace! Soooo…. I went with Plan B, take still shots of the video and create a photo blog!
Last week, I was contacted by an acquaintance who was interested in shaving his head for September to raise awareness for Pediatric Cancer, and he wanted RB and me to be involved. We decided I’d do his shave (I’m not shaving my own head again until the next St. Baldrick’s Event, so I’m letting my hair grow back right now), and he chose Sunday September 1st, since it was the first day of Childhood Cancer Awareness month.
Our friend, Travis, was the shavee. Travis is a firefighter who decided to help raise awareness for childhood cancer. He’s also a graduate student at Nicholl’s State University studying marine and environmental biology. All of his research is in microbiology, and he hopes to get onto a pediatric oncology research team after graduation.
On Sunday, Travis came to our home so that I could video the shave so that we could share it. Unfortunately, like I’ve already written, the tech gods were not smiling down on me. Instead of being able to share the video, I can still share still shots of the video, though!
I’m an expert shaver, by the way. I’ve been shaving Robot Dad’s head for about 13 years now. And I shaved my own a few times after I initially shaved it last March, too.
Not only did Travis decide to shave his head for Childhood Cancer Awareness, he also spent Sunday chalking the back windshields of cars with messages to help spread the word about pediatric cancer.
He even did Robot Boy’s van before he left so that we can spread the message whenever we’re on the road, too.
In my video, I thanked Travis and everyone who goes out of their way to spread awareness for pediatric cancer. Those of us in the pediatric cancer community try to make childhood cancer known to more people throughout the year, but especially during September because it is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. We are thankful to everyone who shares the message, as well.