I read a piece about an embarrassing gift I received many, MANY years ago that was so frickin’ funny, or so I thought in my warped little mind.
People loved it when I read at the Newtown Arts Festival – they laughed out loud – so I took it on the road, and read it again at an open mic just down the road.
Except this time, I bombed. The same exact piece and … crickets.
No one laughed. Maybe a polite chuckle now and again, with very few agains.
Bombing in public is good for you, once you get over being horrified. It offers real time feedback on timing, delivery, content, humor.
The feedback received was my story sucks.
So tail between my legs, I shelved it. Except coincidentally, the very next day my inbox had a timely ‘call for submissions,’ which are themes to write on-spec, at an editor’s request for potential publication. This particular site was a cattle call of hodgepodge prompts to write, and maybe they’ll publish, and maybe they won’t.
The request for such journalistic excellence that caught my eye was exactly what I had written about that bombed so badly:
“I am ashamed of my body hair.”
Well, well, well. Isn’t that special!!
Just so happens I had just the story for them! I sent in my bombed piece right away, and the editor liked it. They made a few changes, and picked it up. And “they” are a very, very big they.
You can read it on-line at some big-ass sites: Good Housekeeping, Cosmopolitan, Woman’s Day, and Redbook. It’s all the same story, syndicated in these kick-ass publications which proves definitively, beauty is in the eye of the hairy beholder.
Next stop, Wordsmiths!
That’s awesome! Congratulations! I am a professional juggler (no, really) and have been performing for years. Sometimes the show is great and everyone is laughing. Other times…nothing. Same show. Jay Leno said that sometimes the audience stinks. You just need to trust in your material. Good for you for pushing through the crickets.
Thx for advice!
Julie Jo Severson
Ha! Fantastic. I didn’t even know those big places syndicated from one another! Your piece is hilarious. Oh my gosh. I can’t get over the nerve she had, but at the same time, it all comes across as lovable and put a big smile on my face. Has your mother-in-law seen this story?
I dunno, and prob never will. She is a quiet, unassuming person, and in retrospect most likely didn’t even truly know what she was doing at the time, but certainly does now!
A good lesson learned. Context is everything. One audience does not determine the absolute merit of an offering. Public comedy is very difficult and the performer/writer is vulnerable, Authentic wit, cleverness, audacity and timing all contribute to making people laugh, but that’s not always enough . ..sometimes you need a critical mass of people who are comfortable laughing in public. . .sometimes when there are not enough people to mask the inhibitions of a small number it is near impossible to get a laugh. Not every audience will appreciate what you write. . .I could read Johnathan Swift to an audience and they will stare at me like I’m form Neptune, but there is no more brilliant and funny satirist. Keep doing what you’re doing. If you get a bad reaction, you’re piece might need work OR it might need a better, or the correct audience. Carry on brave scribe, carry on sacred clown.
I ALWAYS need work! ALWAYS!!
As an editor and writer I know that sometimes, a great story just isn’t the right fit for a publication – or audience. Good work!
Thx!! So disappointed you’re not going to EBWW; will have to wait & meet you IRL at BAM. Thank you kindly for all the support
This is awesome and reminds me to always stop giving up. hahah.
Thx! Rejection blows for sure, and I give up every day –– for a while. Then I’m back at it, hoping something sticks. Got lucky this time, something did!
Fabulous! You just never know and you are SO right, never, ever, ever, give up!
You have inspired me to go through my rejection pile!
Take another look and send away! Looking forward to meeting you at EBWW!
Love it!! And CONGRATULATIONS – so well deserved, to see your name in print on those sites!!
Not so sure my MIL feels the same way, but thank you!
Congratulations Kate and thanks for sharing your story. There are some pretty valuable lessons here other than the obvious about not giving up and l learning from experiences. There’s also the fact that there is no such audience as “everybody” and that’s a tough one to work around for most writers. I can have 40 glowing comments about a piece I’ve written and one meh and that’s the only one that sticks in my head and makes me reread the piece dozens of times trying to figure out how to improve it. It’s a sickness really. 🙂
Same here!!! one bad apple does indeed spoil whole bunch! Thx for read and generous words!
Great to know. And good for you! Tee hee.
Good for me, not so good for my kind MIL!
Sue Kearney (@MagnoliasWest)
I’m smiling. And frankly can’t imagine any audience not responding with loud laughs when you spoke these words to them. Glad you persisted, grateful I got to read it. And now I’ll share it with my peeps.
Thank you from the bottom of my (hairy) heart!
Thanks — that bombing thing is very discouraging — so nice to see it could just targeting the wrong audience.
Just keep writing, just keep submitting! I guess that’s the lesson learned! Thx for the read and comment!
Well done! I guess it goes to show that you just need to find your audience — and you found a big one! Congratulations!
Just keep trying! Thank you, for reading, and for getting it!
Great reminder to just keep on pushing through! And that it’s ok to bomb. Which I tend to do on a regular basis.
yay you! all good things are just beyond the bend!
Roslyn Tanner Evans
Humorous stories that also tells the truth about any human condition has to get a laugh.
If the human condition doesn’t get a laugh, then nothing can!
I love it. Perseverance and great attitude. Not everyone will like you and that is okay.
But we want everyone to like us, don’t we!