by Jackie Sizemore
In October 2016, after finishing a string of documentaries on cults, I imagined a world of Trump TV.
I don’t know how much credit should go to the documentaries– I have always had a weird fascination with cults and insulated lifestyles. Maybe it was the huge uptick in the political commentary I’d been watching. The ideas kept coming, wondering what shows a President Trump would air; even what movies would marathon late into the night.
I told myself “no.” I felt that I shouldn’t be bothering with short pieces when I had a novel draft to complete. Humor writing was unrelated, a fluke, a distraction. My writing to-do lists loomed over my desk. Satire was something I should remain on the consuming end of. Besides, it wasn’t like a one-page satire piece was going to change my life financially.
When your budget is “can I really afford a topping on my pizza” tight, it is hard not to judge writing projects by their earning potential. After much internal debate, I allowed myself to open a new, blank document and write whatever came to mind. What appeared on the page looked oddly similar to the humorous articles I enjoyed finding on my social media feed. Strange, I thought to myself. Maybe there was something to this.
After a nerve-wracking research and submission process, crossing my fingers that the relevancy of a potential President Trump wouldn’t become irrelevant before November, I sent what I hoped was a satirical piece out to several magazines. Coming from the literary journal world, I was used to six-month waits and really didn’t know what to expect. A humor magazine wrote me back in less than 24 hours, and my first public attempt to be funny in writing was out for the world to see. I was hooked.
Since then, I’ve written several more political-satire pieces, most of which have been placed at humor magazines. I haven’t had the luck of getting into a paying humor market yet, but then again, I’ve been paid exactly nothing for my literary pursuits, so the least I can do is give this new genre a few more years to net a profit.
While focusing on a long-term project has its own rewards, I think there is something to listening to those moments of energetic “what ifs” in our writing. By giving a “distraction” a chance, I found a way to channel my political frustrations, and a whole new genre to explore. While I am very much a newbie in the satire-writing world, the whole process has pushed me to become more deliberate and efficient in my humor writing endeavors. Plus, I love making people laugh!
I would encourage everyone to not be too dismissive when a new writing idea comes along at a less-than-convenient time. Who knows, you might find a whole new area of writing to enjoy!
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Point of View Consulting, she provides coaching on individual grants, graduate school applications, and creative writing feedback. Read more of her writing at jackie-sizemore.com.
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