So, I recently entered a humor writing contest. It’s a contest held by the hilarious newspaper “The Washington Post” and they asked everyone who wants to enter to write a story from their life. I’m proud to say that I got my act together, and I submitted my final draft yesterday. When I hit the submit button there was applause and angels came down from the sky and oh the dances we danced to a lively trumpet tune.
Ok, it wasn’t exactly like that (it was more of a jaunty piano jig.) But I consider this a big deal because I’ve been working hard to get myself out there more. Obviously I‘m doing so with this blog, and my loyal readers have been extremely helpful in doing so. I mean, I talk a lot about teaching, but obviously I enjoy writing if I take the time to post on this blog as much as I do. But it’s scary getting yourself out there. It’s very scary to think that your writing is going to be read by some, dismissed by know-it-alls (because we know there isn’t anyone like that out on the internet), and loved by a few people who just enjoy what you write on a whatever you call it-ly basis.
This is the first real contest I’ve entered since I left college, so this is a big step in the evolution of Michael from mild mannered getting byer to guy who actually is doing what he wants with his life. This blog has been a nice step in the right direction of getting the creative juices going, and writing is inspiring writing is inspiring writing is inspiring writing, just like the royals keep producing royals.
But WHY is it so difficult to get stuff out there? And I don’t mean winning or being published. I mean, hell, in this day and age getting published is easy. You want to be published there are literally a thousand programs that will allow you to make a book. I could even release a CD where I sing all the greatest hits that Britney Spears ever had. (I’m saving that for phase 2 of my world domination plan.) No, I’m talking about putting yourself out there to be judged and picked over. Why are we willing to keep this stuff inside for so long?
I consider myself amusing. I know other people find me amusing, too, but most of them that comment are friends. And I greatly appreciate it. I also know that I have some people who read this who aren’t friends. And I appreciate that, too. But that doesn’t make putting myself out there any less difficult, you know? But therein lies the rub, Horatio… you have to put yourself out there in order for people to read you, and for the amusingness to not just be the voices in your head laughing at the jokes YOU think are funny.
The fact that I have a blog allows me to work things out in the public square a little more than I normally would. Some of this is a pep talk to ensure myself that even if I don’t win (I may not be up to The Washington Post’s usual level of humor. And they must know humor right? They’re still running “Peanuts” reruns instead of giving the space over to a newer, less funny cartoonist.) I still made the right choice by taking the risk and putting myself out there. Deep down, I know I have. That’s the only way to move forward, to take risks and be uncomfortable for a little bit. (Also, I understand the irony of writing all these fears down, then showing it to whoever stumbles on Bad Shakespeare: The Blog.)
I guess that’s just part of my journey from mild mannered guy who occupies a desk to Michael Hock: The person I want to be.