Welcome to Andrew Lloyd Webber's Production of Apocalypse Now
I was going for a mixture of Dawn Of The Dead and Douglas Adams when I began, but I have no idea what this update became. It sort of wrote itself and in the process meandered into an awkward short story with a few funny bits sprinkled in. I'm not sure what I think of it, but I get the feeling that I painted myself into an unfunny corner with these short story updates. Instead of placing the emphasis on a fictional world yet again next week, I'll focus on something I find interesting in real life and hopefully do something lighter and less forced. There were a few parts in this week's piece that managed to make me laugh after the Nth reading though, so that's something.
Oh hey, that serves as a convenient segue into this next section!
Nearly every time I click that big red shiny "Submit" button I become completely convinced that my update isn't funny. Ignore the fact that the button isn't actually red and that my updates really aren't funny, I'm setting up an interesting insight here.
People often ask how we get our ideas, but I don't think they're prepared for the shocking truth. Mozzarella is basically our version of anabolic steroids. I once ate an entire wedge of it and threw a dictionary across the room, which is the literary equivalent of throwing a bus or a whale or something.
Let's rewind. For me the writing process starts with a random thought, usually popping into my head while I'm in the shower or as I'm watching Frolixo shower from my perch in the oak tree. This idea can be anything (one actual idea that still haunts me with its uselessnes: a dog that sweats.. a lot), but it usually appears in the form of an already completed joke. By that I don't mean a funny idea but a full setup, punchline, and the exact words to use. I don't know how this happens, and to tell the truth I don't want to think about it too much because it's sort of scary. Once I have this initial joke I let the subject matter simmer in the back of my mind for a few days, be it cowboys or time travel or cowboy travel. I'm typically able to get five or six solid concepts or jokes through this process. On Friday, I take these loosely related jokes and figure out the best way to tie them together. As I fill in the blanks, I add whatever jokes come to mind at that particular moment.
By the time an update goes live I've combed through it a minimum of four times, making major changes and additions with each pass through. At this point the edge of every joke has been dulled to the point that it no longer punctures my funny liver. This is the tough part.
Publishing an article takes it out of your hands for good, which is difficult when you realize there is always room for improvement in any given piece. The more you add and revise, the more your original jokes seem stale. Without confidence that your original jokes are still funny, you will never stop this cycle.
As a rather insecure person, this is something I still struggle with. I can't tell you how many times I've submitted an article that I felt was a stinker, only to receive e-mails from people who loved it. Over time I've learned to trust my initial instincts a lot more and to simply write what makes me laugh. It might sound sappy but I'm really lucky to be part of a site that gives me the freedom to do that. Something Awful has been my favorite site since the moment I first read the "Smart Box" ICQ prank and I'm honored to foist my stupidity upon you alongside such talented writers as Lowtax and the legendary Ebaum.
All those other guys can go to hell though, they're a bunch of lousy fucking bums.