The Language of Aliens

My son is a storyteller by nature.  Primarily, he likes to tell stories about his five different lives.  His current life is his favorite, but all sorts of fascinating things happened to him in his previous lives.  In one life, he was even abducted by aliens!

The aliens were good to him; they fed him and cared for him.  Although initially there was a language barrier, they taught him alien language bit by bit.  In fact, they taught him all but one word.  When you ask him about that one word, he’ll stare at you with his big hazel eyes and shrug.  “I don’t know.  They wouldn’t tell me.”

Apparently, that one word was so huge that if he had learned it, he would have learned all their secrets.

Besides my kid being a genius (duh), he’s really onto something.  We all keep secrets.  Embedded in our conversations, there are the omissions, the things we’re uncomfortable talking about.  Discretion is a big part of our language.

And that’s where the writing comes in.  I do NOT consider myself a writer, but I do write.  And as I write, I inevitably feel a little more vulnerable for doing so.  Sometimes this feels about as comfortable as standing outside naked during a hailstorm.  Writing makes us vulnerable in a new way.  The age-old adage sounds so simple.  Write what you know.  However, sometimes that’s about as appealing as a root canal.  Actually, that’s a lie.  Sometimes the root canal is far more appealing.

It’s not unusual to hear people talk about writing their autobiographies. For me, I have zero desire to write one.  I like telling stories, but I don’t want to write a book about my life.  There are numerous reasons, but the primary reasons are simple.  For the most part, my life is pretty boring.  And I’m actually not complaining about that part; my goal is actually to have a boring life.  Ordinary things can be fabulous.  Popcorn, napping, stories about aliens, and my husband making a pot of coffee in the morning really do make me happy.

However, ordinary things don’t always make for great writing.  The things about my life that are interesting aren’t necessarily the most pleasant or palatable.  More often, I find myself attempting to make my own humiliation (and/or frustration) funny or taking my own personal misery and trying to make it resonate.  Since reliving your own misery is shockingly un-fun, I’ve found myself drifting more and more towards comedy.  This mystified me initially, “Huh, I write humor now?” but it’s a lot more fun to write.  Even when no one else laughs, I still do.

In contrast, this is what my brain looks like when I’m trying to write more serious pieces.

This is an actual photo of what my brain looks like while writing… (or it’s a photo I borrowed from Wikipedia…)

For me, the bottom line about writing is this: writing can be incredibly tedious.  I’m beginning to understand why so many writers are considered “crazy”, why so many writers struggle with melancholia, depression, and mental illness.  Perhaps it’s not what we think.  Perhaps none of them started off crazy.  Perhaps they were perfectly normal, and it was the writing that drove them to madness.

I’m curious about how other people feel about comedy versus more straight-laced autobiographical writing.  Am I just at a roadblock that I need to push past?  Does everyone experience this when delving into the past?

Oh, and if you’re curious about what inspired me to write this post, check out Black Box Warnings.  In the next few days, there will be a guest post written by yours truly.  Or not.  I’m pretty sure backing out is still an option.

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

-Ernest Hemingway (Photo Credit: Wikimedia)




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26 Responses to The Language of Aliens

  1. A Dog With Fleas says:

    I love anything and everything that is infused with comedy. There is nothing wrong with taking experiences from your own life and mixing in a laughter. And you do it so well and that is why so many people, including me, love reading your blog.

    • I love things with a little laughter thrown in too, although sometimes I veer towards dark (or very dry) humor. When I first started blogging, some folks mistakenly thought I was English. True story. Not sure if my sense of humor was the root cause or not.

  2. I think a little humor is just your style, and it makes your posts readable and relatable.
    As for me, I wish I could write my memoirs because my relatives are all insane and that shit just writes itself. But they’re all alive and would disown me for talking about them, so that will have to wait. In the meantime, I will strive for a normal life like you.

    • Love and Lunchmeat says:

      It really does write itself! Just wait until I write about my dear departed grandmother and her wacky Christmas gifts… My family doesn’t actually read my blog, aside from my husband and sister-in-law. However, if they stumbled onto it, they would know it was me from the pictures. I’m proud of my writing, but I’m pretty sure most of my (extremely conservative) family members would hate it. May send you a link, if you don’t mind.

      • rollergiraffe says:

        Please do! I am going to find you on facebook so we can connect in real life. How’s that?

        • Love and Lunchmeat says:

          Yep, that works. I think. (I’m not great at keeping up with my Facebook page.) I was just going to look for your e-mail, and send you a draft…

  3. Carrie Rubin says:

    “Perhaps none of them started off crazy. Perhaps they were perfectly normal, and it was the writing that drove them to madness.”—Oh, great. I’m doomed.

    I’m like you–I don’t want to write about my past other than an anecdotal tale here or there. Who wants to read anything else about me? No one. And I definitely prefer the humor. I suppose in some ways it can be a defense mechanism, but as you point out, it’s also more fun. Well, for blog posts. For fiction I prefer intense. Weird. Maybe it’s that crazy coming on already…

    • Love and Lunchmeat says:

      That’s a good point too! I’m definitely no Winston Churchill. Why would anyone want to read a whole book about me?

      And I do the same thing. Most of the blogs I read are humor blogs, but I almost never read books by actual humorists. I think for fiction I gravitate toward authors who can suck me in, and often it’s by not telling me what’s going on. It really is a fine art, being able to show without telling.

  4. I don’t want to be crazy, that’s why I’m not a writer. And I was abducted by aliens once too. They lived in Mexico.

  5. I don’t know. I think you have to be slightly on the edge of looney-toon to be a writer. You’re basically exposing all those voices in your head to the general public–making yourself vulnerable. But damn is it fun! And so worth it. I started out my blog as just a private diary and did write loads of serious stuff. For me, I really enjoy the humorous side more. There is nothing like making someone laugh, very addictive.

    • I feel the same way about making people laugh. I think that’s the beauty of the parentheses even on a more serious post. I definitely have a love-hate relationship. Some days you can’t tear me away from a keyboard. Other days I hate it with a passion. Maybe some day, I will add the R to the write. I may already have the crazy requirement fulfilled.

      You know I’m going to have to delve way back into your archives now, right?

  6. The Waiting says:

    When I first started blogging, I felt the need to apologize at the beginning of a post when I got completely serious or when my tone shifted from the tone I had utilized in a string of prior posts. I don’t think that’s necessary anymore. People know it’s me, and however YOU chose to write, we will still know it’s you. I’ve only been reading your blog for a month or so and I think I could blindly identify a post written by you if I was asked to because you have a defined voice, whether you tried to define it or not. That’s a good thing, BTdubs.

    • Thanks Emily. Someone told me once that I write exactly the way I talk. However, my husband refutes this. Mostly I find blogging has sharpened my talons, realizing I only have about ninety seconds to catch someone’s interest…

      I do always feel bad when I suddenly shift to more serious posts, like it’s not bad enough that I write about my son’s autism, but also that I can’t seem to keep those posts at a reasonable word count. As a new-ish blogger, I assume that people don’t want to read uber-long posts from me… or posts that are whiny or sad.

      I’m trying to teach myself to stop over-thinking and just hit the publish button.

  7. Fresh Daily Bread says:

    Over the years, I’ve learned that laughter is almost as good a way to self medicate as wine. And wine makes that laughter even more maniacal. I try to infuse humor into my life, even when it’s boring and mundane. That’s when I jump into Zombie Apocalypse blogs and amuse myself to pieces by discussing my dislike of cats.

    I do consider myself a writer, but only because I’ve been paid to write about cruise ships and 14K gold bowling pin, #1 Dad, and football team charms (the kind that dangle off a thick gold chain next to the Italian horn).

    Do you have to be slightly crazy to write? Nah, I just think it’s a way to see the voices inside my head better.

    • Yep. If someone would pay me to write, I would change my tune. Until then, I don’t get to use the r at the end.

      The voices do make more sense in paper form, although I specifically don’t think YOU are crazy. Edgar Allen Poe? Probably.

  8. Running from Hell with El says:

    I’m usually pretty serious when I write, but I’m also way too self-absorbed. I think we all gotta write about what feels right . . . some people rock at comedy; others, not so much. Same thing with autobiographies. And I do think writing, especially about intense stuff, or with an intent to make every sentence perfect, can make you a little crazy.

    Have a great Friday!

    • I feel that way sometimes too. And then I remember that despite being a little self-absorbed, Bob Seger’s “Turn the Page” is still an excellent song. In writing what you know, there will inevitably be some self-absorption.

      That said, I always love your writing regardless.

  9. I am not sure whether it would be serious or humorous- humor defines my thoughts, if not my actions. Perhaps I should write something, an event or time and in two pages each, seriously then humorously. Thanks for the idea!

  10. haphillips says:

    My autobiography would be so boring. I have like three events so far. I love your writing as usual and you continue to impress and entertain me!

  11. Tell your son I was once abducted by aliens, too, when I lived as a priestess in the reign of Cthulhu. And the one word, they didn’t tell me until a second before my last fart, was “Chocolate”.

    P.S. I bet you’ve heard the saying that the greatest comedians led the saddest lives. I differ, though. I think they only lead the saddest lives ONCE, but moved on. And do remember that I’m an idiot whose theories doesn’t amount to anything so proceed to the next line.

    P.S.S. I read your post in Black Box. Consider yourself admired. 🙂

    P.S.S.S. However, I admire your son’s genius more.

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