Don’t Try to Write Something Funny, Write Something True

This afternoon I was listening to an interview of a director from the archives of Fresh Air. The director’s father is a renowned director as well, and so Terry Gross asked one of her million-dollar questions, “Did your father give you any advice that has stuck with you,” or something that’s classic gross, I mean Gross.

The father had told his son, “Don’t try to create a scene that is dramatic or funny, just try to make something that is true.” The director added, “That is fantastic advice that I never received in film school.”

And if that wasn’t enough, the director shared another story about his days as a pre-med student who didn’t think he could replicate his father’s success. His father encouraged him to reconsider his career because being a doctor just didn’t have enough magic for him (the son). He was right.

Wow, how many of us are stuck in a job just for the respect that comes with it, not to mention the salary? The magic bit sounds cheesy, but I believe in cheese, I believe in that kind of metaphorical magic, and so I guess I believe in being cheesy.

But the clincher for me was his remark about creating something that is true. Yep, I agree. I bang my head on the keyboard trying to think of something clever, witty, funny, or deep to write and of course it’s a classic case of the watched pot.

And then there are times when I have story to tell, a list to share, or an observation to post from my study of scripture and those clever, silly, and deep thoughts sneak onto the page. I admit that I surprise myself sometimes, asking, “Where did THAT come from?” Of course the cause of that surprise is not always a good thing…