If Mama Don't Laugh, It Aint' Funny When did you start writing?
My high school friends would tell you that they always knew I would be a writer. My college friends would tell you they were all surprised. My husband says I’m not the same woman he married; that it’s like my alien inside took over.I always wanted to write. I sort of gave up on it, though, after high school, seeking to do more practical things with my education and my life. It wasn’t until I was 34, with four children ages 6 and under and a husband who said we needed extra income, that I got up the courage to act on it.I typed up sample columns and went to my local newspaper and asked if I could write for them. Then I called back the editor again, and again, and again, until he said, “Yes, if you’ll quit bothering me. I’ve got work to do.”Now, going a day without writing is like going a day without oxygen.
Did all of the stories in your book really happen to you?
All the stories but one are true. There is clue embedded in the book as to which story is not true.
How did you decide on the title, "If Mama Don't Laugh, it Aint Funny"?
My husband actually inadvertently coined the title. One evening at dinner, several years ago, one of my sons asked my husband to pass the rolls. Instead of passing the plate, the man tossed a roll to the child who bobbled it. Buttery bread left a long grease streak down the front of my child.I was irritated at the poor display of table manners and at the challenge of getting butter stains o ut of navy blue pants. My husband could see it on my face, so he said, “Uh oh, y’all. Mama isn’t laughing. If Mama doesn’t laugh, it isn’t funny.”The title evolved from there.
How long did it take you to write "If Mama Don't laugh"? Did it just seem to flow or did it take some time for you to gather all of your stories & put them together?
It took about a year and a half from start to finish. I read and re-read my stories so many times in the selecting, writing and editing process. One of my first criteria for including a story in the book was that it still had to evoke laughter or tears from me after looking at it so many times.I also selected stories that received a lot of comments from my newspaper column readers. There’s no better way to gauge audience approval than through direct feedback.
Do you have any advice for other moms who would like to get into writing?
If you’re serious about it, you have to truly commit to seizing every moment. Working full-time and raising a family can pose barriers to a writing career. I write in every sliver of time I can find. I keep a notebook and a pen with me at all times, everywhere I go. Ideas suddenly come to me and I have to write them down or I’ll never remember them. Sometimes I get inspired and write an entire story on the back of my grocery list while standing in the middle of aisle 9. Sometimes I dictate to my 13 year-old when ideas come to me while I’m driving. I jot things down in waiting rooms, dressing rooms, and bathrooms. I have lots of scraps of paper stashed here, there, and everywhere with various notes. Often, writing a story is like piecing a puzzle together, literally.The first step, however, is just starting. Commit to writing a certain number of words a day. My number is 250. It’s manageable. You’ll find that once you start, it’s very, very hard to stop. I know I do. I’ve burned countless meals because I couldn’t put my pen down.
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