This column is not pretty (and not well either)

By SCOTT SAALMAN

People, usually strangers, have approached me over the years and said, “Scott, how can I write funny too?” To which, I typically reply, “Don’t talk to me right now, I’m trying to pee.” Sometimes, when I respond as such, I’m in an actual restroom.

Unfortunately, by the time I am finally ready to answer these wannabe writers’ question, they have grown tired of waiting and are long gone, their desire to crack the code of humor writing quelled. Thus, they are deprived of receiving such sage advice as, “Before attempting to write funnily, you first must learn well writing.”

Since the giving season is upon us, not to mention my latest $10 collection of humor essays, “Column Writing Is Not Pretty,” will hit the Jasper shelves of Finishing Touches (not a bookstore) and Mad Batter Bakery (not a bookstore) (too bad Jasper doesn’t have a waterbed store) any day now — the book will also be in the trunk of a red 2018 Toyota ‘Rolla (not a bookstore) trolling your neighborhood (just flag me down; I will stop on a dime for your $10) — I cannot help but succumb to an altruistic urge to offer you, dear column readers (and potential book buyers), a freebie from my new collection, a sample story, if you will, of what is sure to be the perfect stocking stuffer (forget the fruitcake this year) for your loved ones (or your enemies, depending on how you view it — it’s the perfect gift either way).

So, without further ado (yes, you too can write like Shakespeare), I bequeath to you this following piece (at no charge — well you can pay me for it if you want (’tis the season to give, you selfish goat)) from the aforementioned book, “Column Writing Is Not Pretty.”

 

36 Steps to Well Writing

Step 1: Sit down.

Step 2: Stand up.

Step 3: Go to cabinet for Fritos.

Step 4: Repeat Step 1.

Step 5: Hate self for eating Fritos.

Step 6: Think to self, “There are still more Fritos in cabinet.”

Step 7: Repeat Step 2 and Step 3.

Step 8: Go to gym to overcome Frito guilt.

Step 9: Think to self, “I should have Fritos to reward myself for going to gym.”

Step 10: Repeat Step 3.

Step 11: Repeat Step 1.

Step 12: Move sleeping cat off laptop keyboard.

Step 13: Think to self: “Wait a minute! I don’t even own a cat!”

Step 14: Close the front door accidentally left open when going to gym, which enabled stray, feral cat to enter.

Step 15: Repeat Step 11.

Step 16: Think of first word to type.

Step 17: Type the word “The.”

Step 18: Delete “The” and replace with “A.”

Step 19: Replace “A” with “The.”

Step 20: Delete “A.” Type “I.” First person is best.

Step 21: Try out every style on the font menu to see which font makes “I” look best. Settle on Times New Roman, the font you first used when spelling “I.”

Step 22: Ponder second word. A verb would be nice.

Step 23: Become distracted by thoughts of Fritos thanks to seeing your Frito finger grease on keyboard.

Step 24: Repeat Step 3.

Step 25: Remove Fritos-crumb-faced feral cat from Fritos cabinet. Deal with disappointment at finding Fritos bag empty. Remind self to close cabinet door next time so cat doesn’t get in.

Step 26: Repeat Step 1.

Step 27: Repeat Step 12.

Step 28: Lick Frito grease from keyboard before creepy cat gets to it first. Now then, about that missing verb ...

Step 29: Look at your first word, “I,” on computer screen. Begin doubting Times New Roman choice. Run “I” through the font menu again. Settle on Times New Roman.

Step 30: Feel pleased with first word choice for new column. “I” is a good start. It opens you up for great opportunity. Recall how Dave Barry once won a Pulitzer for his humor column.

Step 31: Remember Hemingway’s advice on writing: “When you are going good, stop writing.”

Step 32: Stop writing. Screw verbs.

Step 33: Save file. Pulitzer will have to wait.

Step 34: Time for a mojito. Mojito would be a great name for a font. Or your new cat.

Step 35: Repeat Step 1 tomorrow. See where it takes you.

Step 36: Write more well tomorrow.

What can I say? Column writing is not pretty.




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