A Need for Nonsense

When I was quite young, still in the elementary school years, I used to write like mad. I had notebooks and notebooks full of stories and I was rarely ever without pen and paper. But as I grew and other things began to be important to me, my writing dwindled down to nothing. By the time I hit high school I was barely even writing at all.

Then my best friend and I began a strange collaboration. It started because of a particular English teacher who I loathed. My best friend and I used to jokingly plot crazy ways to be rid of this particular teacher (it’s not as creepy as it sounds, I swear, and besides, she deserved it), and somehow or other it became a super-short little story. I honestly can’t remember which one of us wrote the first chapter, but I remember that it was only about a page long, featured ridiculously overblown explosions, and ended with my boyfriend and I being pursued by the police. It was an incredibly goofy, over-the-top little piece of flash fiction that would have made little to no sense when taken out of context, but it started something.

You see, at the time that this strange little story first came to light, my friend and I shared a keyboarding class. For you youngsters, that was a classroom full of typewriters – not computers, mind you, but honest-to-goodness typewriters – where a teacher would run us through exercises to learn how to type properly (you know, with your fingers on the right keys and without looking at your hands). Since my friend and I were already rather good at typing, we would often finish our assigned tasks quickly, and thus we took to spending the remainder of our classes adding to our little story. She would type up a page-long “chapter”, and then I would type one. Back and forth, back and forth.

The thing is, there was absolutely nothing sensible about this story we were collaborating on. The cast quickly ballooned to include my best friend and her beau, two other friends and a boy one of them had a crush on, and a random goofy guy from my best friend’s science class (who, funny story, wound up becoming my husband). This motley crew of eight went on lunatic adventures to stay ahead of the police, and that adventure got more and more bewildering as it went on. Among some of the more outlandish plot points were an armada of flying enemy pizza-minis who were destroyed by being sprayed with donair sauce, alien cows who could disguise themselves to look like humans, and the use of such devices as a SRMLD (Stark Raving Mad Lunatic Detector. Since one of the first pages of the story involved one of the characters accidentally blowing up the planet, we called it “The Day the Earth Blew Up”, and filled the thing with so many terrible in-jokes that reading it now makes me twitch a little.

A snapshot of one page of the original copy. At the time this seemed like the height of humorous dialogue.
A snapshot of one page of the original copy. At the time this seemed like the height of humorous dialogue.

And here’s the point of this little trip down memory lane…Our story was utterly foolish. It had numerous spelling and grammatical errors. It had no discernible plot, and certainly no semblance of act structure. It was complete and utter nonsense that would mean absolutely zip to anyone other than myself and my friend. It was nothing that could ever be shared with the world in any way. And it was fun. It was ridiculously fun and it started me writing again.

There’s a moral here, and that moral is that writing doesn’t always have to have a purpose. It doesn’t have to mean anything. It doesn’t have to be publishable, or even readable. You can have goals and deadlines and lots of writerly responsibilities, but you can have fun too. You can write silly, meaningless nonsense every now and then. You can write whatever foolishness pops into your head just because it’s in there and you’d like to get it out. I think that’s something that a lot of writers forget. They focus all of their time and energy into writing words that can be sold, or used for marketing or promotional purposes, and they forget why they got into writing in the first place.

Writing can absolutely be your career, but it is also something that writers do because we enjoy it, because we love it, and it’s important to remember that. After all, we all know what “all work and no play” did to a famous fictional writer.

8 thoughts on “A Need for Nonsense

  1. Love this piece! And highschool inside jokes are the best. I still have some that occasionally pop into my head and I just think “What were we thinking??”

    P.S. I love that the random guy from science class is the guy you married. Sounds like one hell of a blog post?

    • Oh my goodness, we had so many in-jokes it was almost madness. I remember we took this quiz once, and I don’t remember exactly how it went, but one part of it was that if you answered “Coffee” for a particular question it meant that you were thinking of sex. So from then on the word “Coffee” was synonymous with sex, which made for an awful lot of foolish giggling at inappropriate times. lol

      P.S. I’ve considered that story as a blog post many times, but I can never make it sound as amusing as it really was. lol Maybe someday. ^_~

  2. That’s so right, I feel often restricted by the thought of sharing my writing with others and it sometimes takes the pleasure out of it. All those rules and expectations of making sense, being great, being unique, being entertaining! 🙂 Great reminder, thanks for this!
    – Andrea, #atozchallenge Mighty Minion Asset

    • Thanks for visiting! Yes, it’s definitely worth it to just take some time every now and then and just write whatever nonsense comes to mind. It makes it so much easier to think later! 😀

  3. Here are a few of my thoughts…

    First of all, you are one of the lucky ones to still have these relics of your childhood still available for review. My overzealous mom threw out a lot of my old notebooks along with my comic book collection as soon as I went away to summer camp. These were in the old days before computers were acceptable and/or reliable and safe devices to store writing, and certainly, long before the Internet came to be.

    As a child, I was very observant, and such a trait is an almost guarantee that any overly observant child will one day become a writer. At least that is what I have been told. My parents wished for me to become a doctor, or other very respected professional, and despite college, several medical-related jobs, and a promising career in the medical field, I still ended up being a writer after all.

    My father passed away a little over a year ago, and I have been slowly and reluctantly sorting through his personal effects. Somehow, a box of tapes surfaced of the two of us talking, and sometimes my mom would join in the conversation. These memories are priceless to me, and I have been slowly converting them to MP3 format so they can be shared on my blog.

    Back in those days, I took lots of notes on things I observed, despite the fact that I was only 5 or 6. Sometimes the notes were serious, other times, they were random questions that only a kid would ask. Perhaps one of the more classic observations was whenever my father would fix something in the bathroom of our house, one of the tools he needed to perform the task would only fall into the toilet after someone had forgotten to flush it. I was determined to understand why things would never fall into it if the water was fresh.

    And by the way, long before the Jersey Shore on MTV, my friends and I had our own code names for sex, but sadly, they are no where near as funny as ‘coffee’, and the written notes have long since been thrown away.

    • The first thing that I have to say is that I cringe in horror inside every time someone mentions their mom throwing away their stuff as a kid. It’s a pet peeve of mine when parents think that it’s okay to do this. One of my aunts once gave away (as in, for free), my cousin’s extremely extensive Transformer toy collection just to make up a bit of room in the (huge) attic, and he nearly had a nervous breakdown when he found out about it. ._.

      Second, I think it’s so awesome that you found those tapes of you and your father talking! What a great memento. I hope all your conversions work well!

      Third, the thing about stuff falling in an un-flushed toilet cracked me up. Oh man…the things that kids think about, am I right?

      And finally, I could probably write a book about the weird code-words my friends and I had for referring to sex. lol I can’t even remember how most of them came to be, like “Lazertag”. Not a clue. It just…sorta happened. lol

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