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    • I spent a year trying to be a comedy writer. Quit a good paying job, moved someplace cheap, and just write write write. After awhile, you develop a rhythm for what reads funny. I even engaged in a twice weekly online chat room of wannabe professional writers doing improv as fast as their little paws could type amusements. I was never the best, but I wasn’t banned from the group so there was some merit in my creative attempts at mirth. But when you leave that environment and go back to the soul-crushing day job, you suddenly realize that was over ten years ago and you’re no longer funny. I’m not talking about the occasional situation in the hallway at work where someone says something innocuous and a momentary bout of brilliance causes you to respond with a comment that garners a smile, a chuckle or even a full on laugh. No, I’m talking about the ability to knock out comedy gold on a regular basis—or at least comedy bronze or tin several times a week. That, for a brief time in my life, is something I could do. It is beyond frustrating to know that something you were at least marginally proficient at is now something that you can’t do well. It’s not on the same level as losing a limb, but the shitty feeling of loss is still there. I mean, I used to be able to kill at parties with my ascerbic wit. Now I can be mildly interesting, so long as I don’t linger too long on discussing my uninteresting job. I started reading a book on technical writing, and the author is amusing and informative: I’d read a washing machine manual written by him any day of the week. And I guess memories of my former writing proficiencies came to the forefront of my mind as a result. I also wrote much longer essays with greater variety of word choice because at the time I had a significant command of the right word, rather than the almost right word. (Mark Twain said that this difference is like the difference between the lightning and the lightning bug.). I read a total of ten minutes this weekend; I spent it reading the technical writing primer I recently picked up on Saturday afternoon. Not two hours in total, or an hour on at least one of the days. The time was available to read more, but the little screen in front of me was a distraction. It’s hard to accomplish your reading goals when you’re self- sabotaging your efforts. I view this as more than procrastination, and more in line with creating an environment where reading becomes a habit. So until further notice, reduce expectations for laughter from me and be grateful for any smirks, smiles and/or guffaws that result from the conversations and comments I choose to share.

    • The time was available to read more, but the little screen in front of me was a distraction. It’s hard to accomplish your reading goals when you’re self- sabotaging your efforts. I view this as more than procrastination, and more in line with creating an environment where reading becomes a habit.

      Oh, man. I totally get this. But my problem is I spend all my reading time READING junk on my little screen... 🥴

    • Okay, here’s today’s attempt at being humorous. Anyone got something funnier than this—I “purposely” set the bar low.

    • I get sucked into reading a lot of articles that are posted on Cake because I know the type of people who are here are finding the best info out there. Lots of reading on my small iPhone screen even though I don’t necessarily post a response.

      I finally decided to use this as feedback on whatever book I have going at the time. If I opt to stay longer on Cake and keep reading articles, that lets me know the book I have going is just not that engaging. Time to move on and start another book. 🤓

    • I am almost done reading Malcom Gladwell’s Talking to Strangers and just started a how-to book on writing called Untechnical Writing.


    • For recreational reading, I’ve been reading a selection of books our library has designated for a Readers Choice competition. I decided the first book I read was just worth 3/5 stars.

      I got all the way to p. 139 in the second book, but couldn’t force myself to keep going because it just wasn’t getting any better. Ugh. I think I need to take a break from Readers Choice. Hahaha.

      Last night, I started Ted Chiang’s Exhalation, a book of short stories. The first story, “The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate” was fascinating. Looking forward to reading the second one tonight.

      Also reading the owners manual for Lance Trailers because I ordered one last week. Woot! 😁

    • I have a bittersweet relationship with short story collections from multiple writers: invariably the one writer who’s stories I enjoyed most is the one writer who hasn’t sold a novel. Do you ever read the fiction in the New Yorker? I want to but I have yet to start a story that enticed me enough to read beyond the first page.

      And I am happy to see that you are making progress with your slow travel preparations. Any plans to travel this spring?

    • I am like you—skipped the fiction in the New Yorker. I’m not sure why it didn’t work for me, since I really appreciated the non-fiction articles. I also kept thinking I should read the poetry, but did so only very rarely and wasn’t very impressed. 🤷🏼‍♀️

      At Christmastime, I switched annual subscriptions from The New Yorker to the Wall Street Journal. I know. Sounds daft. But let me explain...

      The New Yorker is the gift I always give my Mom for Christmas. She loves to check out all the cartoons and then send the funny ones to her older sister (they are both in their mid-80s). Mom is ultra-conservative (gets her news from Fox), so she never reads TNY articles. Ha. That meant we didn’t ever really talk about anything in the magazine.

      This last Christmas when I visited her, I saw she was getting the WSJ each day. She would peruse it in her kitchen and leave it out on the counter - so I found myself reading through it as we talked (her kitchen is the gathering place). We often talked about something I saw in the paper.

      When I got home, I found a solicitation in my mail from the WSJ: $99/yr. That was less than a year’s subscription to TNY I was getting for myself, so I decided to switch this year. Now, I get a copy of the same paper I know my Mom is reading, and it gives me something to text her about quite often. It also gives me a glimpse into conservative thought without being too painful. Ha!

      I have found with the recent coronavirus cautions which are keeping her isolated at home, texting daily is more important than ever. The switch-over was good timing. 👍🏻

    • Be honest, you miss the New Yorker cartoons. 😉

      I got my new issue this evening and I’m going to see if a witty caption comes to me for the “caption that cartoon” contest on the back page. I’ve never done it before but how hard can it be?