I saw “The Failure State of Clever” on John Scalzi’s blog today, and said “oh, yes.” Go take a second to read – the links should open in a new tab or window.
Yes, “The failure state of clever is ‘asshole’” is a wonderful phrase. But I didn’t say “oh yes” because it happens to me. Because it, sometimes, is me.
I’m lucky enough to not be a completely unfunny guy . I get laughs sometimes – and they’re usually intentional. Heck, I run a comedy mailing list or three . I know I’ve made people crack up at cons, in e-mails, in IM and over the phone. [See footnote #1 again.]
But there have been more than a few times where I’ve realized where I was trying to be clever, and it did bomb completely.
I think a clue is when it happens. It’s almost always when I’m talking (or e-mailing) people who are more successful than me, or whom I look up to. You know – the people you want to make a good impression with.
I’m not sure how I can properly fix this. I’m not consciously to “fit in”, let alone trying too hard. If it was deliberate, that would be an easy fix. Getting a hold of things you only realize in retrospect – and fixing them before they become retrospect – is a tall order indeed. Hell, I’m not even sure that I am trying too hard. I think I’m just being a bit goofy (which I can be), and it’s the response – or lack thereof – that clues me in to the problem.
So, here’s the deal. I want your advice. Seriously. But I want to give you something for it. And we’re both in luck there.
My e-anthology of over 60 flash stories, Pencils Made This Scar, will go on sale 28 June 2010 on the web. It will also exist in a signed, numbered limited edition print run. (Hint – e-mail me now if you want to reserve a copy.)
And you can get a copy for free.
Send me a message or comment here explaining:
How do you avoid this failure state without being an automaton?
How do you “tell” when it is cool to let loose with the jokes, and when not?
Send your advice in an e-mail to this e-mail address. All e-mail addresses offering sincere advice  between now and midnight on the 28th of June will get a chance to win a signed, numbered copy of my limited edition print run chapbook Pencils Made This Scar.
 I don’t think there’s that many people who would just laugh to be polite.
 Although that’s curating rather than generating material.
 Move in with Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory is not sincere advice.