Conjured in Gold – Part 3

Part 1Part 2

Conjured in Gold

Arlia’s skin started to tingle again, and her hands were freezing cold when she slipped out of her white robe and let it drop to the ground. The sunlight shone on her body as she received the golden robe from Muthra. The fabric felt warm, almost alive, and when the young woman let it slide down her body, it gave her a feeling of deep comfort and peace of mind.

She nestled at the small diamond pendant hanging around her neck, making sure it fell perfectly down the v-shaped neckline. She never took off this precious gift she had been given by her oldest brother, shortly before La’Rean vanished from the town one winter morning and was never seen again.

Arlia’s stomach tightened at the thought, and she fought to drive the thought from her mind.

She finally managed to smile at her teacher, who stepped aside and gave way to a crystal vessel. Taking a deep breath, Arlia carefully took a few steps forward. Her eyes widened when she looked down into the bowl.

Floating just above the shimmering bottom, there it was: a single bright-white feather. Arlia reached out, touched it with her fingertips and then gasped softly. Upon her touch, the feather began to glow and turn into a hue of gold that matched her robes perfectly. It was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen. It was delicate, only about nine inches long, and now shone almost brighter than the sun. The young woman held her breath when she carefully took the end of the feather and lifted it from the crystal.

Her head was spinning.

This was it.  

With the feather in her right hand and her small bag in the other, Arlia approached the circle.

The golden dust floated lazily a few inches above the ground. But when Arlia came closer, the color became more vibrant, and the particles started to swirl around until the circle was complete; a golden disc pulsing with magic and life.

Arlia looked over her shoulder at Muthra. The old woman was sitting cross-legged, hands folded, and eyes closed. Praying.

The young woman focused on the circle in front of her. Slowly she opened her bag, and took out a handful of bright white stones. Ideally, her soul would have the color of the stones that were picked and also signified the steadfastness of the soul that was being conjured.

Carefully, Arlia distributed them on the outer ring of the golden disc. She expected the stores to fall through the fine golden dust, but to her surprise they floated just where they had been placed.

Next, she filled the circle with some wooden sticks, grass, flowers, and water. She wanted her companion to be as gentle and whole as the nature around her.

Many companions were conjured with items of war to ensure they would fare well in a battle, and oftentimes people added items that promised speed and swiftness.

Arlia used the clear water to ask for silent speed and movements as fluid as the drops that floated on top of the golden dust.

Next came sapphires. It had taken Arlia a long time to find stones that she considered perfect; they would represent her soul’s eyes.

Then she pulled a piece of fabric from her almost empty pouch. Unlike others, she had chosen to ask the tailors for their help instead of using the fur of an animal. Over the past year, she had collected petals from her favorite flower. The delicate leafs looked like a cotton ball sprinkled with powdered sugar. It was the softest material that could be found in these parts of her world. Her tiger would have the softest fur, if everything went right.

She unfolded the cloth and carefully spread it over the circle, hiding the items underneath.

She reached into her pouch one last time and pulled out a smooth, silvery-blue gem. On its surface, she had carefully inscribed the words “tiger” and “Na’Ral” in the ancient symbolic language. The second symbol was the name she had chosen for her soul: White Flame. She placed the gem in the middle of the blanket.

Holding her breath, she carefully placed the golden feather diagonally over the gem. In that very moment, the circle started to glow. Arlia stepped back, folded her hands, and got down on her knees. For a moment, everything was quiet. Then Muthra’s voice broke the silence. After a few seconds, Arlis joined her and together they sang the incantation, asking their ancestors for a soul companion that would stay with Arlia forever, that would carry her to end of the world and fight by her side whenever it was required.

When the song ended, both women opened their eyes and looked at the circle. The white blanket was gone, and so were the stones, the sticks, and the water. All that was left was the golden dust.

For a moment that felt like eternity to Arlia, she thought that nothing had happened.

Nothing at all.

Her heart sank, and her eyes began to fill with tears.

But then she saw movement. Something white and fluffy was stirring, and a glimmer of blue broke through the dus

Conjured in Gold – Part 2

Part 1 can be found here.

As Arlia stepped into the bright sunlight, she tried to slow down her heartbeat. She was excited. She had dreamt about her incantation day for what seemed to be an eternity. She pictured herself in beautiful golden robes that were customary for this day, her hair framing her face and making her eyes glow. She thought about approaching the magic circle where she would place the items she needed for the spell.

Located in the middle of the library garden, the circle was located on an elevated platform made of white marble, surrounded by lush, green grass. The circle itself was nothing special: A ring of pale golden dust. But once a person started the incantation, the circle would gain in color, density, and intensity, and it was different from person to person. For as long as Arlia could remember, she had heard stories about the incantation and the appearance of the circle.

Not many people had actually seen more than two ceremonies though. Since conjuring a soul mate was the most intimate thing a young sorceress could do, only one other person was allowed in the garden; this was usually a close friend, a sibling or parent or spouse.

For a long time, Arlia hadn’t been able to decide whom to invite. She was liked by most of the people in their village, but she had always stuck to herself. She did not like to open up to people. But this she could not do alone.

In the end Arlia decided to bring a person she greatly respected: A female Elder who was her teacher when she was very young. Now, Muthra was old and in the caring hands of her two children, Beeka and Misora.

Arlia did not know if she was a good choice or not. She loved her father, but their relationship had always been a little strained due to their vastly different personalities. A friend, then? But Arlia just did not have one best friend. She had friends, yes, but not one person with whom she shared every thought and feeling. So Muthra seemed to be the best choice. Many years ago, when she was still young herself, Muthra had witnessed the birth of a winged soul, and Arlia secretly hoped that the old woman was a good luck charm.

As for the practical details of the ritual: everything would be in its exact place, everything would be perfect. Arlia had decided long ago that her soul companion would be a tiger. For centuries, young sorcerers and sorceresses chose either a horse or a tiger. Most of Arlia’s girlfriends chose horses, magnificent creatures, fast and elegant. Arlia though wanted to be different. She rolled her eyes at the thought. She did not like to admit to herself that she sometimes felt as if she did not quite belong, or that she was bored with the way things were usually done.

Arlia walked at the edge of the garden until she reached a door that lead into a marble hallway, lined with book shelves carrying scriptures, artifacts, and the occasional floating book.

Walking through, she stopped in front of a door made of Mahogany wood. It showed intricate carvings, but no door knob or a hey hole. This door would only open when the time was right, and many students waited for their teachers to designate that special moment.

But Arlia did not have to be told. This morning, when she woke up, she knew that today would be the day. That she would take all the items needed with her when she approached her father and fight for her right to take a feather.

Arlia inhaled deeply before she slowly moved her right hand towards the door, palm facing forward. When she touched the cool wood, her body felt electrified for a moment.

Then the heavy door slowly opened. A shimmer of gold came through the first crack, and a few seconds later Arlia stood on the threshold to the inner sanctuary, bathed in light. A shiver went through her body. Then her lips curled into a soft smile. Muthra was there, waiting. Of course she knew … probably even before Arlia knew herself. The old woman carried Arlia’s golden robe. She had never seen, let alone worn it before, but the tailors never made a mistake with these robes. It was as if magic itself helped the men and women to get every single stitch just right.

Arlia felt nervousness creeping up her stomach, a symphony of butterflies going wild. She had dreamt of this day for so long, and now, all the sudden, she started to doubt herself.

What if she was not ready?

No, then the door would have opened.

Then Muthra would not be here, waiting for her.

What if she forgot an item she needed?

She clutched her blue silk bag, afraid of dropping it.

Her eyes flickered when she approached her old teacher. The woman smiled at her, full of confidence. “I have waited a long time for this day, Arlia”, she said.

Conjured in Gold - Image

Conjured in Gold

A while back, I started working on a short story that was inspired by a dream. Don’t laugh; that actually happens quite often. Inspiration comes from all kinds of places (music being the biggest one for me), and my dreams are usually quite vivid, so I took the basic idea and wrote “Conjured in Gold“. Over the next two weeks or so I will post it bit by bit to see if people like it. I am not a big believer in long posts, so the parts are fairly short. If you happen to have a few minutes, I would love for you to start reading. Comments are greatly appreciated! Please ignore the formatting though, it’s just WordPress after all ^_^

Enjoy!
***

Conjured in Gold 

Part 1

“You can’t be serious, Arlia. We have talked about this. More than once! You know how rare winged souls are!”

The tall, elderly man, dressed in scarlet-red robes, stood in the middle of the town’s library in front of massive wooden shelves filled with thousands of books and tomes, his voice a mix of disbelief, annoyance and amusement. His grey hair, once so short that it barely covered even the highest tip of his ears, was now touching his shoulders, clearly marking him as an Elder. The hair blended in with his pale complexion but contrasted sharply with is his dark-green eyes, which were now fixed on a young woman standing right in front of him. She wore a silken, white robe with delicate embroidery at the sleeves. Her white hair merged almost completely with the flowing fabric. Her arms crossed over her chest, she glared at the taller figure with bright, blue eyes.

“Yes, I know, Father”, she answered, trying hard to not let her emotions take over. As if she had not studied the incantation and read the historical accounts about a hundred times by now.

She exhaled sharply. “But there is no telling when it happens … or to whom! The scriptures do not reveal anything about any kind of pattern. It can happen to any of us if given the chance. Old, young, talented or not, compliant or stubborn …!”

She stopped, almost gasping for breath.

Magra sighed and rolled his eyes. His youngest daughter was definitely a prime example of one of the more stubborn individuals of their race. Over time, as she had gotten older, Arlia had learned to put logic over emotions, and patience over being impetuous, but he sometimes wondered which blood line his daughter actually came from. He could not remember a single family member that was -or had been- as relentless as his youngest daughter. Everything she did was guided by passion rather than calculated actions.

Magra secretly admired the fire that was so obviously burning inside her. At the same time though it made him uncomfortable. Arlia shared many traits with the Dark Ones, and because of that he had been keeping a close eye on her. He had no idea what flowed in her veins, or why, but he knew that any of his children could be extremely dangerous if they chose the path that, centuries ago, had claimed almost half of Magra’s people, and had split his race into two. Ever since then, the Dark Ones and the Light Ones had been fighting a seemingly never-ending battle. It saddened the old men that there was no reasoning with the brothers and sisters that had gone astray. They had not exactly gone mad, but their irrational behavior clearly indicated that something had gone horribly wrong.

Magra was pulled away from this memory by his daughter’s voice.

“Well, since you don’t disagree with me on that, I assume I can prepare for the incantation.”

It took him a few seconds to recall that Arlia was referring to the scriptures. He sighed. She was right. Ever since the Light Ones had started to conjure companion souls, his people had been trying to figure out what caused a soul to be born with wings. But their efforts were futile. There was no rhyme or reason to it. Even the wisest of them had no answer. The one thing they knew for sure was that adding a feather from another winged soul to the ritual was essential. The feathers were hard to come by; they had to fall off the animal’s wing, could not be cut or ripped out, and they had to be found within a day of falling to the ground. The Elders made sure that feathers were distributed only to the most promising individuals. Magra looked down at his daughter. She was one of the most talented sorceresses, despite her effervescent personality. Or maybe it was because of it …

But were his fears reason enough to deny her a chance?

Magra took a deep breath.

“Fine”, he finally said, “you may take one from the vault”.

Arlia smiled up at him.

“Thank you, Father” she said, and meant it. But Magra could see the triumphant glimmer in her eyes, and her upright posture as she brushed past him and strode towards one of the exits towards the library gardens.

It left Magra standing among all the books, all the wisdom of his ancestors, wondering and worrying about his daughter’s future.

Silent Scream

silentScream

Sometimes, all you want to do is scream
but no sound crosses your lips.
The pain you feel is too much to bear,
And the scream dissolves into a thousand tears.

Fire burns inside your heart and mind,
and all you want to do is die.
You’re not sure how to survive the despair
and you are too exhausted to even cry.

You have so much love to give,
so many feelings are waiting inside.
But what’s the point of even feeling,
When you don’t have any trust to give?

So you sit and watch yourself burn.
Your body, your soul, your mind, your heart,
They all long for the one that will save you
From yourself forevermore.

It’s so hard to believe you will be okay.
It’s so hard to believe that somewhere out there
He’s waiting for you to cross his way
Look at him and feel your heart stop once more.

Maybe someday you will know that your suffering wasn’t in vain.
That things happen for a reason.
Someday you will look back, with him by your side,
And together you will walk towards a new chapter in your life.

Right now, it hurts too much to even believe
In yourself, in the world, in him who you don’t know.
Please, hold on a little while longer, and you will see
That somebody loves you for all you were, and all you will be.

Books Alive! 2015 – Washington Writers Conference

BooksAlive-LinkedIn

This past weekend I attended Books Alive! 2015, the Washington Writers Conference in Bethesda, MD, and I had a blast! Full disclosure: Since I am working on my own novel, the most important thing for me was the fact that I could pitch my manuscript to four agents in person. However, attending the panel discussions, interacting with speakers and -even more importantly- other authors added so much more to this experience than just getting a shot at selling my writing. It was incredible to hear all the great stories that attendees are working on, fiction and non-fiction alike, and I can only encourage every aspiring writer to try and attend next year’s conference.

During the first session of the morning, How to Pitch to an Agent, the panelists offered advice on how to make your pitch successful. I was happy to hear that their advice pretty much was the same I had received during a 2-week workshop I took last November (Get a Literary Agent, Mediabistro): 

  1. Create a hook – Something that captures the agent’s attention.
  2. About your book: How long is the manuscript? Where on the shelf would you place it? (I.e. My novel [title] is a commercial science fiction novel with some dystopian and gone-girl elements, and is complete at 108,000 words). 
  3. Your elevator pitch: Give a high-level overview of what your novel is about. Don’t try to summarize the entire plot in a synopsis-like style. You want to be as brief as possible. Think of it as your elevator pitch. Mine sounded something like this (and takes me about 30 seconds): Kyra Taylor is known as a Y, one of the very small percentage of telepaths who are considered the most powerful of them all. Her world is turned upside down when she discovers her own fate: to become a Mind Hunter, an elite professional with just one job—finding rogue telepaths and bringing them in…or bringing them down. She is assigned to Nathaniel Cadwell, the most powerful hunter in service. Their relationship is torn between contempt and secret affection, and it is about to become a lot more complicated when powers unknown to both Kyra and Nathaniel attempt to use them for their own agenda: to create a new and even more powerful generation of telepaths. With Kyra on the run and Nathaniel being misled by those above him, both must find and overcome the secrets hidden in the Rivers of the Mind. 
  4. Give comparative titles. It shows the agent that you know your market and your target audience. Avoid comparing yourself to bestsellers. You want to be confident, not cocky. However, if specifically asked, be prepared to humbly mention some books or writers whose target audience you share. In my case, I compared my novel to The Office of Mercy (Ariel Djanikian) and The Mind Readers (Lori Brighton), but I mentioned that I believe my novel would probably appeal to readers who enjoy stories like Divergent  and The Hunger Games. 
  5. Your bio: Give a brief overview of who you are, your credentials (i.e. previous publications) and anything that shows the agent you are basically qualified and have worked on your craft. In my case I mentioned that I have published various professional articles, and that I have taken several writing workshops including one lead by Orson Scott Card.
  6. Be your biggest fan! Publishers are looking for people who can market themselves. Probably not what introverted writers want to hear; in fact, a good but very introverted friend of mine who hates the entire putting yourself out there-thing said that “this makes you long for the days when it was acceptable to be a writer just so you didn’t have to interact with anybody” (I am paraphrasing here). My response to this was that being outgoing and selling myself and my work to people did not come naturally to me. I had to learn and work really hard, but by now I can talk to strangers and in front of crowds with ease, and I have no problem conveying my passion for something to others. And if I can learn how to do that, so can you!
  7. Say what’s next! Are you working on other projects? Maybe even a sequel (which is what I am working on).

Throughout the day, people dashed in and out of the rooms to take advantage of the five minutes of face-to-face time with four agents. Think of it as verbal Twitter … five minutes really feel like 140 characters, much to the dismay of my above mentioned introverted friend, who hates Twitter and the concept with a passion. I was really nervous when I pitched to the first agent, but it got better each time I did it. I kind of wish that, at the end of the day, I could have pitched to the very first agent again, simply because I felt so much more confident. All four of my agents invited me to submit the beginning of my story, which made me very happy (cross your fingers!).

Whereas I enjoyed each panel and presentation I attended, I particularly want to highlight the last session of the day, From Magazines and Blogs to Books, moderated by Holly Smith and featuring Caitlin Kelly, Monica Bhide, and Adele Levine. Their stories of how they got published were fun to listen to; even more interesting was their advice on how to deal with rejection. As we writers are all well aware of, rejection is part of our craft. In fact, one panelist said that she had once been told by a mentor that “if you haven’t been rejected at least 72 times, you have no right to complain”. Adele Levine revealed that she allows herself to get angry with an agent or editor that rejects her work (“Screw you, [name]!”)

Biggest and most important take-away: Listening to their experiences and talking to the agents made me realize that just because somebody does not want to take on your project does not mean that it sucks, or -worse- that YOU as a person suck. This is something that I struggle with (and I am pretty sure I am not the only one): If my work gets rejected, I feel like a failure. We really should not feel that way though. It just means that the project was not the right one for a particular agent. The most important thing is to keep believing in you and your work! And then you can get angry all you want at the person that rejected you :)

Keep writing, be your biggest fan, and remember: You can live your dreams, it’s just a matter of will (and perseverance)!

[Off-Topic] ASCAP Licensing Fees

Not related to writing, but very dear to my heart. Please share! I totally support paying artists for their work, but we are talking very small venues here (local bookstores) and events that draw crowds of like less than fifty people.

: Don’t kill local music by demanding fees from small venues for hiring local musicians!  

Forever Young, my Unborn Soul

Some blog posts make me happy. The ones that achieve this most often are those rare ones that offer a glimpse into the writer’s mind. What she was thinking when writing a particular scene, how she came to invent a certain character, or what gave her the idea for a particular plot development. When I read posts like that, it makes the person who wrote it even more human to me, and it just makes me plain happy to get close to a person I don’t even know for a very short time (i.e. the time it takes me to read and think about the post). So, since I’ve just had such a particular moment, I would like to return the favor and share it with those of you who feel the same when it comes to diving into another person’s mind.

It all started by discovering the song Forever Young by The Tenors this morning, which I have been listening to all day. I can get quite OCD with songs I like, so it’s not uncommon for me to listen to one song for days on end. At some point today during my drive home, I was thinking about my own novel and thought it would be a great scene, at some point, to have Nathaniel do something for Kyra that is totally out of character. Just for your information, Kyra and Nathaniel are my two main characters, and Sandra, Jack, Sebastian and Cameron are some of the important supporting characters; this post isn’t really about my story, the plot or the characters though, so it really does not matter if you haven’t read the story and/or know about the characters. At some point, either now or after reading this post, you may want to  listen to the song/read the lyrics (YouTube link here, and the lyrics can be found here).

Back to Nathaniel and my thinking that it would be cool if he sang something for Kyra since he knows how much she loves music. That thought alone made me smile (if you will ever read the story, you will most likely understand why). Here’s how my next string of thoughts went (almost literally):”Well, he would need a pretty good reason to sing something for her … besides, the song is performed by four guys, so maybe I can throw Jack, Sebastian and Cameron into the mix. But for what occasion …”. At that point my thoughts trailed off from that question and I imagined the four guys on some sort of stage, singing for Kyra and the others, and after a few more repetitions of the song, it hit me: The unborn baby.

Prior to writing this, I debated whether to reveal this tiny piece of information, but I think by keeping it vague I am not spoiling anything. I then decided that the very first and last verse of the song could be sung by Sandra, who is somewhat of an artsy type anyway, and I figured that the whole “sing a song for the baby” thing could have been her idea in the first place. Why? Because it’s something beautiful to do (among other reasons the group has), plus she gets to convince four very different men with different backgrounds, motives, and relationships to each other to work together for one person they all love in different ways.

Having all these little details about a scene (or a character for that matter) form in my head always has a very relaxing and calming effect on me. Oftentimes, depending on the scene and music, it helps me understand myself and certain situations a little better, but above all, visualizing ideas and having bits and pieces come together to a coherent scene just makes me plain happy, whether the scene actually makes it into the story in the end or not. And it’s the same when I read about other writer’s thought processes. So please keep sharing, you definitely light up my world every time you do!

For those of you who have read my manuscript as beta readers and therefore know the characters, and for those who just want a little more detail, here’s how I imagined the distribution of lyrics among the five people. What they sing also reflects their personalities. It differs a little from the way The Tenors do it, but hey, my story is fictional, so I figured I can get away with it … plus, at this point it’s all in my head, and I don’t even know if it will ever make into the story. Certainly not in the first book, but maybe the sequel I already have in my head.

[SANDRA]
May God bless and keep you always
May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others, let others do for you
May you build a ladder to the sky, climb on every rung
And may you stay, forever young

[JACK]
May you grow up to be righteous, may grown up to be true
May you always know the truth and see the light surrounding you

[NATHANIEL]
May you always be courageous, stand upright and be strong
May you stay, forever young

[JACK]
Forever young, (echo -always by the other 3)
Forever young, (echo)

[NATHANIEL]
May you stay, (echo)
Forever

[CAMERON]
May your hands always be busy, may your feet always be swift
May you have a strong foundation, with no winds of changes shift

[SEBASTIAN]
May your heart always be joyful, your song always be sung
And may you stay, forever young

[CAMERON]
Forever young, (echo)
Forever young, (echo)

[SEBASTIAN]
May you stay, (echo)
Forever young, (echo)
And may you stay, (echo)

[SANDRA]
May God bless and keep you always
May your wishes always come true
And may you stay, forever young

My First Time

First off: Happy New Year to all fellow writers out there! May 2015 be a good, productive, creative and successful year for all of us!PhotoGrid_1421179193829

I spent Christmas and New Year’s with my family in Germany, and despite my best intentions I didn’t do anything but eat and sleep. I didn’t do any revising or writing, or anything else that involved my laptop for that matter. I swear that sometimes I could hear it whimper from my room …

What I did do was read comments regarding the first three chapters of my novel from a very close and good friend of mine … and man did he bash my writing! At least that’s what I thought when I read his email for the first time. I didn’t read it again for a few days because I was really discouraged and was basically pouting and doubting my ability to even get a single sentence right, so I just wanted to throw away my proverbial quill and give up. But then I started reading his comments (and amendments) to my writing, and I realized that he wasn’t trying to be mean at all … it’s just that he is SO far away from my target audience that he just plain did not enjoy my writing style.

Whereas my novel caters to young adults/adults like me who still feel young/mostly women, my friend is a gentleman in his early sixties who enjoys reading books by Clive Cussler … and that is definitely not the type of book I am writing (or could write), nor is it my writing style. My friend made a bunch of changes to my text and writing, and the more I read it, the more I realized that he was trying to turn it into something that could have come from Cussler and similar authors. Which is not to say that I don’t like Clive’s writing … I do, and it’s clearly a successful style. It’s just not mine.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t blame my friend at all for his rather harsh words, and it was probably a stupid idea of me to give the draft to a person who is clearly not one of the readers I am trying to reach. It was a great learning experience for me though. In general, I don’t deal well with criticism, so that’s definitely something I need to work on. And, to be fair, he did have some good points that I will consider. But it also taught me not to lose faith in myself just because one person does not like my writing. I am sure there will be plenty more, and I should really be able to deal with that.

I would love to hear from you how you deal with criticism and inevitable self-doubt!

Here’s to a happy, healthy, and overall great 2015!

Xo, Aileen

‘Cause in This World of Trouble, my Music Pulls me Through

Just got to your desk, got your coffee but still need an extra boost? Here’s my “Feel Good and Get Rocking at Your Desk” playlist for today. You may take the rocking literally 😀

For those of you who want to try something new, sign up for the 60-day Google Music trial. It’s totally worth it; I’ve tried most of the paid music services (still loving Pandora, never been a big fan of Spotify), but Google Music is definitely my favorite.

Happy Friday!

Feel Good and Get Rocking at Your Deskmusic

  • The Heat is On, Glenn Frey
  • Beat It, Michael Jackson
  • Jump, Van Halen
  • Come on Eileen, Dexys Midnight Runners (of course this has to be included!)
  • In The Heat of The Night, Sandra
  • We Built This City, Starship
  • Music, John Miles
  • Flashdance (What a Feeling), Irene Cara
  • Rebirth (Original Short Mix), Mark ‘oh Vs. John Davies
  • Brave, Sara Bareilles
  • Young Girls, Bruno Mars
  • Dancing in the Dark, Bruce Springsteen
  • Vacation, The Go-Go’s
  • We Belong, Pat Benatar
  • Waiting for a Star to Fall, Boy Meets Girl
  • Take on me, a-ha
  • China in Your Hand, T’Pau
  • Livin’ on a Prayer, Bon Jovi
  • Cruel Summer, Bananarama
  • Walking on Sunshine, Katrina and the Waves
  • Heaven is a Place on Earth, Belinda Carlisle

So … You Want to be Funny?

So do I. Really. I’m just … not. Not when I want to be, anyway. Every now and then I end up in situations where my friends almost choke because they thought I was so hilarious. Those situations usually involve some joke I didn’t understand and thus provoked a ridiculous reaction. I could tell you the tea bag story (I really just wanted some hot tea), but … never mind. The point is that it’s American humor, and I’ve only lived in this country for close to eight years now, so sometimes I still don’t get it. Give me a break!

But seriously, I wish I could  be funny and come up with stuff  that you find in books by Bill Bryson or John Scalzi. I can’t remember how often I’ve read I’m a Stranger Here Myself (“Why Everyone is Worried” is my absolute favorite) or Old Man’s War (I would marry John Perry if I could … really) and couldn’t stop laughing, even in public places. No, it does not count as being funny when other people laugh at you just because you act like an idiot in public :P.

Of course, it does not always have to be so elaborate. I would be perfectly happy if I were able to come up with stuff you see in the catalogs that appear in your mailbox every year around Christmas time (What on Earth and Signals.com being two of my favorites). I mean, how hard can it be to come up with lines such as these:

itired

tense

 

 

 

 

Who came up with that? Certainly not the catalog people? I have no idea, and that’s not really the point. The point is that they made me laugh regardless, and that’s always a good thing on a cold Sunday morning. But it got me thinking: How hard can it really  be to be funny? Because, when you think of it, I doubt that even masters like Bill Bryson, Dave Barry and others walk over to their desks, sit down, merrily scribble something on paper and toss the pen into a corner after maybe twenty minutes, get up to do something else? I really doubt it works that way (and if it does, please don’t tell me and destroy my hope that even these writers actually have to work on their stories to perfect them). So I think at the end of the day it’s really damn hard to be funny.

Despite my admiration for the above mentioned writers, I would never try to copy their style, or even attempt to. Mainly because I could not, even if I quit my job and locked myself up for the rest of my life and read nothing but their books. It just would not happen. More importantly though I think I am okay with my own style (or what it is shaping up to be). I just would like to make people giggle every now and then. After all, humor is one of the three things that provoke reactions in people, at least according to Eve Mayer, and that’s what writers strive for (okay, the reactions should be positive, too, but that’s beside the point).

So, the next time you read something that I’ve written, and it elicits a smile or maybe even a giggle, let me know. It will make my day, I promise!