Being a guest blogger for https://getconnectdad.com/ has been a wonderful experience. I was intrigued by the “52 Traits” we want to instill in our children; writing about them in poetic form has helped me explore such abstracts on a deeper level: https://sarahleastories.com/get-connected-dad-my-contributions/
I’m a natural born storyteller, and I’ve found that my poems tend to be narratives with strategically-placed line breaks. With the exception of children’s nursery rhymes, I find myself veering away from rhyme. I like to say “metaphor is the new rhyme.”
I’ve finally become comfortable sharing my poetry in front of an audience. My life motto has become “Aw, what the hell?” I’ve always regretted the times I could’ve read and didn’t, but never the times I did, even if it didn’t go as well as I would’ve liked.
For example, one of my English professors told our class that my short story, “The Punch Drunk Potluck” (about what happens when a prospective member of the Church spikes the punch and brings pot brownies) was supposed to be humorous. I was thinking, Oh, my god, don’t tell them that. If they don’t laugh, I’ll be so embarrassed.
Even though “Punch” won first place in the college’s annual literary contest, they didn’t laugh. That said, I was a bit uncomfortable (I’m sure I was breaking out in hives) during the reading (it was, after all, a super silly story), but I did it, and afterwards, a few people came up to me and told me how great it was. (People may not always laugh, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t think it was funny; I don’t laugh at every joke I hear on “Cheers”). One even asked for a copy.
The girl who asked for a copy used to be a member of the FLDS Church (her father had four wives), and so she understood all the nuances of my piece. I’ve found that of all the different kinds of writing I do, I enjoy writing my humor pieces the most. Even though I wouldn’t consider myself a funny gal (more just witty), I keep in mind that Lucille Ball was very serious in real life.
Out of the nine readers at the poetry reading at my college, I was the only one who read anything humorous (“Hanging from the Family Tree”). I like to say “a little subtlety and a little levity goes a long way.” When offered the chance to read again, I read a serious poem (one I would describe as “hauntingly beautiful”), but everyone loved the first. My inspiration for that one? My family: The gift that keeps on regifting. (I was even asked to perform an encore the next day at the office.)
I’d worn my white snood; I decided that would be my schtick. (When I used to color my hair red, I thought “The Lady in Red” had a nice ring to it; I would wear all red, down to my shoes.) Since I had to stop coloring my hair when I was expecting (only to find I had gray hairs), I had to ditch that notion, at least during my child-bearing years. (And have you ever tried finding red shoes? Especially in a size 10?)
That night of the reading (taking a piece of advice one of the other students in my poetry class gave), I opened with a joke I’d overheard in the English department:
Q: What does the Secret Service shout when they see a bullet coming towards the President?
A: Donald! Duck!
That icebreaker helped dispel almost all my self-consciousness.
My advice: Don’t overthink it. Just go for it.