Writing During April Fool’s Day
By Joe Massingham
Volunteer Coordinator for Creative Writing Institute
Don’t be a fool – be a writer!
April 1, as everyone in the western world surely knows, is the day for playing jokes on unsuspecting, family, and colleagues – sometimes even complete strangers!
The origin of All Fool’s Day (as the day was originally named) is a mystery in itself; perhaps there’s a crime novel there for some up-and-coming writer! However it began, though, the idea has remained essentially the same.
In France, for some reason that is lost in the mists of time, the most common joke has been to pin a paper fish on the the back of the victim. Whatever jokes/tricks you play in your part of the world, be sure they’re done midnight as vengeful angels supposedly report those who overplay the game.
Joseph Boskin, a professor of history at Boston University, conducted research and explained that the practice began in the time of the Roman emperor Constantine, when a group of court jesters and fools told the emperor that they could do his job better than him. The amused emperor allowed a jester to do his job for one day. The jester ‘emperor’ passed a law that called for tomfoolery that day and the custom became an annual event.
“In a way,” Prof. Boskin wrote, “it was a very serious day. In those times, fools were really wise men. It was the role of jesters to put things in perspective with humor.”
This explanation was published in a newspaper article in 1983. There was only one problem – Prof. Boskin invented the whole story! Its publication completed the most widespread April Fool’s joke the world has seen to date.
Perhaps the most positive message in this tale is that it’s possible to get anything published if you start small and work hard enough at it. You CAN succeed as a writer and reap the satisfaction that a byline affords.
Without a doubt, the first draft won’t satisfy even you, let alone your critics. The second may produce a more acceptable manuscript, and the third will probably come close to actually being publishable. That’s the proper time to lay your work aside and let the mysterious creative gnomes that live in your brain cave do a bit of cutting and reshaping on the emerging jewel.
Just be patient. Don’t make a fool of yourself by getting too hasty. One day you’ll find your story finished, prepped, and knocking on your door, waiting to be freed from its cage. No fooling!
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