Once I left Microsoft I joined a Daytime Writing Group meetup, mostly as an excuse to get out of the house. Every week I’d go and share the latest chapter of my “Ayn Rand meets J.K. Rowling meets Joseph Heller meets Tom Wolfe” novel-in-progress and listen to everyone else’s latest vampire romance (the genre, not the band*).
While most of the participants were pleasant and helpful, after a few weeks we were joined by an extremely unpleasant woman who angrily criticized my story for not being set in the “country” of Timbuktu and for not acknowledging the accomplishments of “shamanic healers.” After a couple of weeks I decided that the positive interactions with the rest of the group weren’t enough to compensate for the aggravation of dealing with Large Miss Unpleasant, and I stopped attending.
But I’m still on the mailing list, which is how I learned that Daily-Show co-founder Lizz Winstead was conducting a “Political Satire Writing Workshop.” Of course there’s nothing I like better than writing political satire, unless it’s writing religious satire or spreadsheet how-to books or short stories about a boy who likes to play baseball but is no good at it.
Being Seattle, it ended up being more of a “Left-Wing Political Satire Writing Workshop,” with a collective glee focused on the comedic potential of Dick Cheney’s lack of pulse, Dick Cheney’s daughter’s self-hating lesbianness, something else Dick Cheney, and the word “teabagger.”
Still, we had a valuable discussion about comedy writing and the creative process, and I bit my tongue whenever people mocked a candidate’s dabbling in “witchcraft” as if its beliefs were prima facie more ludicrous than the beliefs of Catholicism or Judaism.
Since we were in the International (i.e. East Asian) District, we took a break for bubble tea, after which we divided into groups to bang out some political satire projects.
Most of the suggestions were things I couldn’t in good conscience write about (“teabaggers,” disparaging the Second Amendment, etc…), but one of my workshopmates suggested a news item about a Republican Senator who gave a somewhat oblivious speech assuming that his audience (being good Americans) all earned over $250,000K a year.
The truth, when we Googled it, was slightly less damning (the audience consisted of Chamber of Commerce members), but “Senator lives in insular world, assumes everyone is rich like him” was something I could work with. It was a group effort, so there are ideas in it that I wouldn’t have put in myself, but — for a political satire piece written collaboratively with other Seattleites — it’s actually not bad.
You can see it (along with the other groups’ pieces — ours is the one that’s not about Glenn Beck or “Teabaggers”) here, first in an edited-by-Lizz version, then in the original. I like the edited version better in some ways, worse in others, and I’d probably like some compromise version the best.
At the end I gifted Lizz with a copy of my book, which I predict she enjoys all the way up to the “Environmentalism is false” chapter.
* My fact-checker tells me there’s no such band as Vampire Romance. Well, there should be!