‘I think you shot the clown’


Writing can be a fickle medium. In just a matter of words, you can change the dynamics of a written piece turning the funny into something serious. Evidently, I had done that in my own writing and not even realized it.
A friend said, “You’ve lost your Erma Bombeck appeal.” First off, I’m hardly the caliber of a Bombeck, although I took the comment as a compliment. My friend continued, “Where did your humor go? I think you shot the clown.”
“The clown?” Has that been the mask I’ve worn so comfortably all these years? Red nose, painted face and funny clothes have always been my go-to around the house. I didn’t realize it was also a draw in my writing. Maybe that is all part and parcel of what allows me to deal with the insanity that is life. Family, my Sweet Al, Whiskey? Need I say more?
My mind was reeling from my friend’s comment. I felt like I was dancing around on sizzling-hot feet and dying a slow death while trying to explain to her the direction my writing has taken. Actually, I’m not sure I know what happened. Has life become too serious? Have I quit laughing?
Most writers learn to strip away all of their filters so people get a peek into their private lives. We have to be comfortable in our own skin, even when that skin feels more like a well-worn winter Snuggie.
When I think back to recent articles published, it seems like I have been writing more and more about old people stuff. I guess it’s where my head is. After all, my calendar is marked with more doctor appointments than luncheon dates and getaways.
My Sweet Al likes it when I tell humorous stories, probably because most of them are about his antics or his garage sales. If I could get on my toes, he would keep me there. He does, however, draw the line when it comes to his dog, Whiskey. He says a good wife doesn’t talk about a man’s dog. I’ve learned that my hearing aides have a button labeled “Selective Hearing.”
From time to time, something tugs at my heart strings that needs to come to the surface. My children tell me to lay off the “psychobabble.” I’d like to think that I am sharing pearls of wisdom. All the same, I just need to remember not to forget to laugh.
This column started out as one for artists, although I now only write and not paint. I have artist friends tell me their favorite articles are when I write about painting, so I need to remember to sprinkle in a little art from time to time.
Final brushstrokes: I started writing for The SUN over 11 years ago. Times change in the process of living, so it makes sense that our writings change in the process of being written. But never more have I found it important to channel my inner Erma. Embrace funny, even if only threaded throughout less-than-humorous moments in life. Thank you to those who remind me what is important.
Readers’ comments
“Betty, you wrote an article on Change! Are we ready for it? Thanks for writing this awesome article. I’m a long-time reader but I’ve never been compelled to leave a comment. Thanks again for a great post!
“Awe, Change! At 80 I have found change happens and the thing we fight coincides in perfect harmony. A quote I came across in a commentary on the book of Proverbs says, ‘There comes a time when we must step off the stage so that others may step up to it.’ I am finding I have to be pushed off. Harmony, please show up. BL, Clovis, New Mexico.”
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