I know it’s really, really nice outside.
I know that I could use a break, and we’ll only be gone for a few hours.
I know that the sand between my toes would feel just wonderful right about now, not to mention a cold, refreshing drink in my hand, and the relaxing breeze coming in off the water, and maybe we’ll even see a dolphin!
…but I have to write.
Quite possibly the worst words that the spouse of a writer will ever hear, besides “the royalty checks might not be what we were hoping for this month” and “I’m just going to run to the restroom and check my email real quick,” few things have the ability to ruin a nice day off with the family like being past a deadline or under a deadline or bludgeoned into near unconsciousness by a deadline that just knows you’re probably going to put it off until the last minute, even though technically right now it’s still a good two or three weeks away…
Of course, we all know that being a writer means sacrifice.
We sacrifice our sanity with such challenges as who can come up with the most names to call diarrhea (current record is 27). We sacrifice our friends and family because given enough time around us, everyone eventually becomes the brunt of at least one or two humor columns … though for what it’s worth, there’s no way Aunt Hilda walked out of the salon with that hairdo not knowing exactly what she was setting herself up for! And probably more than anything else, we sacrifice our time because as much as we love the craft of writing and creating funny prose for the amusement of others…
…we also like to put off working on that craft just as long as we possibly can.
And therein lies the crutch this summer because as entertaining as cat videos and stories about mutant alligators living in the sewers may be while we’re supposed to be writing, we know that eventually we’re going to have to actually sit down and get to work … even if that time falls when the family is all hitching to head over to the beach to catch some rays because hey, they finished all of their work on time like they were supposed to!
Sure, you could try and take your laptop to the beach with you – I’ve done that before, and let me tell you that trying to get that perfect, white sand out of your perfect, new laptop is a real treat. Plus, you think that the Internet is filled with distractions … have you ever been to the beach, and seen the things that they wear, and the sand castles that kids get up to building while the adults are all doing whatever it is that adults do at the beach?!
The sad truth of the matter is that life’s not fair and writers weren’t meant to enjoy the beach – that’s why you’ve never seen a tanned, buff writer with a bikini babe on each arm … that and our complete lack of social skills away from the keyboard, anyways…
No, our place is tucked away in an office, glued to a glowing computer screen with its blinking cursor perpetually prompting us to create laughter for the world, despite the distinct lack of joy in our own hearts that building a simple sand castle or perhaps biting into an overpriced hotdog that’s probably going to get seagull poop on it before you’re done could easily fill. That out there – the land of freedom and happiness and 2-for-1 frozen Pina Coladas, is for them, whereas this rusty, old keyboard and the chair that squeaks no matter how much you spin around in it – this, my friends, is ours.
Here is where we toil and we sweat as we flip through the thesaurus searching for a funnier thing to call the common toilet (example: commode à la mode), with the mere goals of laughter and fame and at the very least, a random paycheck. The greatest among us walk away with the occasional accolade, whereas many will be grateful merely for the occasional chuckle when we “mistakenly” leave behind one of our latest books in the men’s room.
That is the life of the humor columnist – one devoid of beaches and seagull poop, Surfing Safaris and Banana Boats…
But hey, at least we don’t have to worry about getting sun burned.