I did a phone interview last month for a regional paper about The Penny Tree and at the end, the reporter asked, "In your opinion, what's the one characteristic every writer must have, published or not?" There are many obvious answers: tenacity, a passion for writing, natural storytelling ability. But I was in a punchy mood (probably too much espresso) so I said, "A sense of humor, for many reasons."
For those of you rolling your eyes, I actually believe this, by the way. Take a look at the photo above: I can't look at these nuns without smiling. Can you? And as I do, my mind wanders and I catch myself wondering: Was it a staged photo? Or did someone take a snapshot walking by? What are their lives like? What made them choose to become nuns in the first place. And then, finally, I think to myself, I'll bet there's a good story here.
Also, as a writer facing the often endless hurdles that exist in this business, you will need a sense of humor (not to mention a network of supportive friends) or you'll eventually find yourself folding your tent and trudging off to Nepal to join a quiet group of Sherpas who know nothing about the world of publishing.
When I'm a few hundred pages into writing what originally felt like "the golden story idea" and I hear a tiny voice whisper, "Ack! Burn it already and start over," it's usually humor, more than anything else, that kicks in
at my end and nudges me
across the finish line.
This said as I sign off to unfold 52 intricate paper airplanes my son and his friend spent most of the afternoon building on the floor of my office using my freshly printed manuscript
*big tight humor-filled smile*