‘Read the books you want to write.’ It sounds so simple. I like Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series. I like Douglas Adams’s trilogy in four parts. My latest favourite being Mark Forsyth’s book (The Elements of Eloquence), which, apart from being incredibly informative, is very funny. They all contain stories told with tongue in cheek. But I don’t think I could ever write like that. Let’s face it; I’m not a funny person. People don’t hang around me because whenever I open my mouth they are rolling on the floor, peeing their pants laughing. I like to laugh, I do, that’s why I read those funny books.
I notice that that’s what draws me into a story; humour. I don’t like to read somebody droning up a narrative that is dull and unexciting. I have enough of that in my own life. I like to read a piece that uses exaggerations, funny comparisons, unimaginable situations. It’s almost like having an adventure; you know you want to go there but you also know it will never happen to you, you’re on safe ground. That’s why it’s so attractive.
So that is what reading is for me; going on an adventure. I suppose that’s why people watch soap operas. The people in these dramas have far from normal lives. They cheat, they steal, they get involved into all sorts of trouble. Normal people, who lead normal lives and going to work nine to five, don’t have to deal with this kind of stuff. They don’t have to confront drug lords, steal cars or find their long lost sibling who they happened to have fallen in love with. I find this kind of entertainment, movies in general, the tofu version of a good book, at least as far as imagination goes. When you’re into a book you get swept away into that world. Your imagination goes into overdrive, imagining the characters, the surroundings, the emotions flying around the room. When you watch a screen production that is all chewed out for you, your imagination is put in the back seat. Just absorb and let your imagination wither. It’s a fast-food way of entertainment. I like it, I won’t deny it. I saw four movies last weekend. What can I say, I’m only human and part of this take-away consumption world.
Nothing, however, can compete with a good book with some humour in it. What do we remember after reading a book, watching a movie, seeing a stand-up comedian? The one-liners, the funny bits, the remarks that make you poke your companion in the ribs. It’s not so much the exact words that stick, it’s the feeling that remains. It made you happy. Nobody wants to feel sad. After you’ve been through childbirth you don’t remember all the pain and suffering that came with it (and that sometimes still continues 🙂 ). The thing you remember is that wonderful feeling of happiness of holding your child in your arms for the first time. Our bodies crave that feeling. Even if we don’t realise it, we are all in search of happiness.
That’s why I read funny books. And that’s why I try and put some humour into my books; so I can give my readers a bit of happiness too 🙂 .
(photo by Jared Erondu, from Unsplash)
Have a Happy Writing Weekend!