Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Knowing a Little About a Lot of Things

I write for quite a few cartoonists, each with their own needs and requirements. I have to change directions all the time. One morning I'll be writing husband and wife gags. In the afternoon I'm writing about the business world. The next morning I might be writing about kids; that afternoon I might be writing about the things that go on in restaurants. I guess you have to be willing to be flexible. To change gears. To do the research.

I have lots of personal favorite topics. I love writing gags about desert islands, heaven and hell, prisoners, the Grim Reaper, people sitting on a beach and reading a message being dragged by a plane overhead, the dynamic between wait staff and customers in restaurants. I could write these gags all day. They seem to come easy to me. But not every cartoonist wants gags about heaven and hell, prison, the Grim Reaper and the beach. I get asked to write about topics I have no real opinion about, or rather, not much interest in. Then I have to do some research. I'll study the publication where the cartoon will, hopefully, someday, appear. This usually means going to the library and studying back issues. Sitting down in a quiet area and copying down phrases and topics I can write about. Studying the cartoons already published. If I can't get to the library, I can get all kinds of information about any topic on the Internet. I may not know a lot or have a great interest in science, for example, but I have to write gags about scientists so I do my research. Needless to say, I have better luck with some topics than others.

Some cartoonists let me write about any topic I want, as long as it's funny and, in the opinion of the cartoonist, can be drawn up by him or her and has the potential to sell. Obviously, what is funny to me may not be funny to someone else. This is the reality of the business. We all go through this.

I guess you could call me a generalist. I know a little bit about a lot of things and keep learning more every day. I read newspapers, listen to news radio, watch television news, trying to keep up with what's going on in the world. This is a requirement of a writer. I think of it as getting paid to read the newspaper.

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