Friday, April 5, 2013

Jokes Are For Other People

Fiancé: What the hell are you talking about?
Me: Candu! There was Shamu and Candu! The killer whales at Sea World!
Fiancé: NOBODY KNOWS THAT. You can't call that a joke because nobody knows that and will think it's funny. Jokes are for other people! Join the rest of humanity, you existential fucking whore!

 (Elka picture. No, not for any real reason. I just like having pictures in posts.)

Stories like this are an example of my everyday suffering. Not being called a whore, that was for comedic value as it clearly has no truth in it (and the conversation ended there, really, because I was laughing). No, my problem is that I have a wide range of esoteric knowledge that nobody else knows or is interested in. At least not in my immediate social circles. My coworker and I were looking at a big huge book of trivia questions, and I knew things like the name of the dog on the Cracker Jack box (Bingo) and the shortbread cookie named for an 1800's novel heroine (Lorna Doone). I know that peanuts are legumes, and that Benedict Arnold was the first first captain of a USS Enterprise.

"Jokes are for other people" is probably true. So is "Hell is other people" (Jean-Paul Sartre). So are any number of Ayn Rand sentiments that aren't snappy enough to distill into a six word or fewer sentence. Who is John Galt? But again, that doesn't mean much to most people. Yeah, I'm revisiting Atlas Shrugged. I really do love that book, even if I skip the John Galt speech towards the end now. I paid my dues, I read every word of it the first time.

Which then brings me to the question writers always ask themselves: Who do you write for?

Currently, I write for myself. My short stories have been rejected from each submission (though of course I'm holding out hopes for the Ploughshares Emerging Writer's Contest). I write what interests me. If that happens to be werewolves, or steampunk in South Africa, so be it. I don't censor myself, though, nor do I write with an audience in mind. I don't think "This will be YA!" (though the Steampunk probably is). Typically, I do not keep myself at "literary", though even the boundaries for that seem to have blurred a bit. Gabriel Garcia Marquez cannot always be accused of sticking strictly to a realistic bent, but whatever he does, works. I think of audience taste as opposed to audience age. If I think about audience at all.


  1. You're eccentric and quirky. Someday you'll be heralded. Unfortunately, it'll probably be 20 years after your death when all of your manuscripts will be discovered in a boarded up attic beneath a stack of doberman paraphernalia.

    That said, Pleeease try out for Jeopardy! It would be ever-so-much-fun!! :)

    1. Oh Jeopardy? Oh God, can you even imagine? And I'd probably lose it all on some dumb shit pop culture question about Lady Gaga or somebody else I don't care about. But I know that the Cracker Jack dog's name is Bingo, and that US Astronauts are rationed 3000 calories a day, and that a horse Robert E. Lee once bought was named Jeff Davis and and and