It’s been almost five years since I started Pecan Pie for the Mind, and I’ve finally succumbed to the classic "writing about writing" device that so many use to rattle off a quick column.
I’m sorry about that, but wouldn’t you like to know what it takes to write a great humor column, week after week? I know I would.
I start my writing day with a pot of hot tea brewed with rainwater collected from the downspouts at William Faulkner’s house. All great writers drink special "writer water," but many will store it in a vodka or gin bottle so you won’t catch on to what they’re doing. The old Faulkner place doesn’t get that much rain, so some writers have to make tea with water from Dorothy Parker’s birdbath. That tea tastes funny, even if you put it in a gin bottle.
Next, I’ll contemplate different column ideas until I stumble on one that I really like. That rumor that you need to have a head injury or the flu to develop a good humor column idea is just silly. I’ve written one or two columns when I was feeling perfectly fine!
Once I get an idea, I’ll test it out. I use an old wool sock puppet that I call "H.L." after H.L. Mencken — the famous critic. H.L. won’t say anything if he dislikes my idea. That’s our deal. I told him, "If you complain about my column ideas one more time, you’re going back in the sock drawer." He hasn’t said anything since.
Eventually, H.L. or I will have to write the column, finding the fanciest words and placing them in the optimal order. This is the tricky part. The best way to order words is alphabetically — like in the dictionary, but that makes for a lousy read. Even H.L. agreed, back when we were on speaking terms.
I always let my deadline pass, and then email the column to my editors with a creative excuse.
The head injury and flu excuses don’t work, so I usually blame my lateness on a bad batch of rainwater from a dirty birdbath.
Finally, I’ll wait for the column to appear in print, so H.L. and I can admire our work. He wants his picture in the paper, but he’s so arrogant, and I told him my picture looks good enough for the both of us.
David McCoy, a notorious storyteller and proud Yellow Jacket, lives in Covington. He can be reached at email@example.com.