Today’s guest is award-winning humor blogger Leanne Shirtliffe. Leanne is the author of DON’T LICK THE MINIVAN: And Other Things I Never Thought I’d Say to my Kids. She writes funny stuff for the Huffington Post and Nickelodeon’s NickMom.com. When she’s not stopping her twins from licking frozen flagpoles, she teaches English to teenagers who are slightly less hormonal than she is.
“Leanne Shirtliffe writes with hilarity and poignancy as to the trials and pains (literally) of motherhood. She is our new Erma Bombeck!”
–Elizabeth Boyle, New York Times best-selling author
Take it away, Leanne!
I like to think that writers have an affinity for oxymorons, for putting two seemingly opposite ideas together and watching them dance and stumble with the same awkwardness of a young man rushing to undo a bra clasp one-handed.
Maybe I’m just putting the “moron” in oxymoronic, but when I was completing…and completing again… and completing yet again my manuscript, I thought about my “finished draft.” This phrase is Prince Oxymoron in the world of words. Finished draft? By the time my editor and I were on the fourth pass of my already typeset book, she advised me to “look for only major, glaring errors.” And so I learned that a manuscript is never finished, only submitted.
Even many genres are oxymoronic. Science fiction? Realistic fantasy? Young Adult? Creative nonfiction? Erotic nonfiction? (Kidding on that last one. Maybe.)
Perhaps most writing oxymorons are present in the drafting process, in those moments when your thoughts swirl, and you try to assemble some sort of organized chaos as you put pen to paper.
Here then are nine funny oxymorons for writers:
- Aspiring writer: To me this is like being “almost pregnant.” You’re either writing or you’re not. Throw “aspiring” out the window along with that book of boring writing prompts you’ll never attempt. Feel free to replace the word with perspiring. Perspiring writer? Definitely possible.
- Mild heart attack: This happens when your computer eats the draft of your WIP. Having a mild heart attack may be medically impossible, but if you’re a writer and you have no back up, call 9-1-1 or a liquor store that delivers.
- Glowing critique: I’ve had my writing gently eviscerated by my writing group. “It has potential!” “Do better!” “Not your best stuff!” Sometimes awfully good feedback is painful.
- Meaningful nonsense: This describes most first drafts. It also describes late night conversations in the hotel bar at writers’ conferences.
- Social outcast: You have to become one of these if you want to finish your manuscript. It’s oxymoronic in much the same way “Facebook Privacy” is. See ya later, social media, if you want to reach that word count goal.
- Almost finished: This is the oxymoronic response writers tend to give when their spouses yell, “Time to come to bed!” Yes, like the Sisyphean task of doing laundry, we’re always “almost finished.”
- Plastic glass: If you don’t want your goblet to shatter all over your laptop, you best use one of these. Alternatively, jam a straw straight into the bladder of the box of wine and drink.
- Strong decaf: When you run out of wine at 1 AM or when you have too many “numb sensations” from sitting on your butt have the night, it’s best to brew this.
- Marital bliss: This happens on those rare nights when (a) you’ve met your word count goal, and (b) you’ve gone to bed before your nearly-asleep spouse has asked you if you’re “almost finished.” Anything else that happens in the bedroom, including the one-handed bra unclasp, is a bonus.