Write With Wit

By Terry Hager #48315

Writing e-mail newsletters is a great way for RVers to inform others about your adventures—
if those newsletters are actually read! While your adventures may be exciting to people at first, their interest may wane.

After writing newsletters for years (first we went here and then we went there…), I was beginning to snooze, let alone my readers. So I began writing the Hager News Flash, where humor is the heart of it.

In case you would also like to try something different, here’s a way to make newsletter writing more fun for you and, hopefully, for your readers.

When I notice a humorous incident or my silly thoughts about something that happens, I make a note on a “draft” newsletter copy. That way I can play with the newsletter and polish it until it’s ready. I pretend to be the objective (ha!) reporter, telling about Terry’s and Ruth’s adventures. I don’t claim the newsletter is entirely factual. But on the other hand, it’s not total fiction. I think of it as “faction” and trust people to realize it’s tongue-in-cheek.
In the following blurb, I simply recorded an actual silly event.

Satisfaction: Terry, Ruth and a friend left their RVs behind and went to Escondido to stay a week in their friend’s timeshare. On their way, the three friends learned that, in their youth, each of their families had a traditional way of expressing satisfaction after dinner. For Terry, it was “I am sufficiently surensified.” For Ruth, “I am sufficiently safonsified.” For their friend, “My capacity is fully quadalified.” Each insisted that their phrase was legitimate while claiming the other phrases were ridiculous, this despite Mr. Webster’s failure to support any of the odd expressions.

 Here’s another example in which I poked fun at myself by highlighting a characteristic of mine. I always exaggerate the characteristic greatly, but Ruth claims I’m simply writing the bald-faced truth.

Church: Terry says he loves their church except for the time in the service when you greet your neighbors. People shake hands, hug and talk to everybody in the congregation until the pastor has to corral everyone back to their seats. A confirmed introvert, Terry prefers the more formal “Peace be with you,” spoken to his two closest neighbors (one of them being Ruth) before sitting down again and avoiding all eye contact.

Some news items can be a source of embarrassment. While poking fun at yourself is fine, poking fun at another must be done with care. Fortunately, Ruth doesn’t take herself too seriously and approved the following. (If a blurb involves friends, I also run it by them.)

Oops!: Ruth recently backed the truck into a motorhome, causing some damage to the motorhome. Terry suggested Ruth seek intensive psychotherapy for the deep shame she felt for the incident. Ruth, instead, opted for Two Buck Chuck
(wine) therapy.

 Here’s a before-and-after example. In my previous newsletter format, I would have written Ruth and Terry and a friend enjoyed a great meal at a seafood restaurant. For the News Flash, however, I added a little spice by teasing Ruth.

Supurb Seafood: When the Hagers and a friend ate at a seafood restaurant, Ruth did not hesitate to give five-star ratings to all three lunches. When asked if that meant she had tasted Terry and their friend’s meals, she confessed that she suffers from WFS, or Wandering Fork Syndrome.

In the next blurb, I wanted to give readers an idea about our new home at Escapees Park of the Sierras. I reported something far-fetched, then tempered it with the truth.

Reclaimed from the Wilds?: Terry recently boasted that he was a virtual pioneer, having carved his RV site in Park Sierra out of the wilderness. He stated that he’d faced the bitter elements of the weather, as well as cougars, bears and rattlesnakes. While the Hager site does indeed look beautiful, this reporter determined that Terry merely weed-whacked his site (a three-hour job) and that there have only been infrequent sightings of cougars, bears and snakes in the park, with no injuries to people reported. Further, the weather was sunny and in the 70s.

Do you want to alert readers to an upcoming surgery? Even if it’s something serious, it’s okay to cloak it in humor. I did it this way.

Parts Replacement: Terry will soon have total knee replacement surgery. He said he was super-excited about it since Ruth had promised to be “at his beck and call” after surgery. Although he’d married anticipating that was how marriage worked, Women’s Liberation had robbed him of that experience.

Later, I posted this note on my recovery.

Abandoned and Alone: Terry reported that Ruth flew to New York for a weekend despite his barely being able to function after his surgery. Reliable sources, however, tell us that Terry was seen fast-walking at the mall and tooling up and down the stairs there. Reports of his bar-hopping in Grand Rapids during Ruth’s absence were unconfirmed.

Of course, sexual innuendo may get a laugh, but can you include it in a newsletter without being offensive? I gave it a shot with the following example.

Intimate Moment?: When Ruth and Terry finish making the bed in their fifth-wheel, they have a ritual kiss. One morning Ruth was so distracted by the beauty of one of her photos on the wall that Terry had to repeatedly call her attention back to the task at hand. When it was time for the kiss, Terry said, “Now focus! Forget the blinkin’ photo.”

Ruth said, “Okay, I’m giving myself to you, totally and completely, just as you’ve always dreamed I would.” The ritual kiss had the potential, in that moment, to blossom into a deeply intimate event
were it not for Ruth’s giggles as she made her declaration.

I also used humor when promoting my books.

Sold Out: Terry was excited to report that his books had sold out. When pressed further, he admitted he’d actually sold two copies of Death on the Night Watch and two of Last Call for Murder at the bookstore. Nevertheless, he considered this a milestone, given his meager marketing efforts. The two clergy detective mysteries are also available at amazon.com, as is his novelty book of humorous interactions between an RVing couple, Old Dude and Precious on the Road. The rumor that those interactions are based on Terry and Ruth’s relationship could not be confirmed. To the eyes of this reporter, however, the illustrations of the gorilla by Emmy-award-winning Nanette la Salle do bear a strong resemblance to Terry.

Of course, an address change requires reporting. Once again, I resorted to poking fun at myself while giving readers a peek into my relationship with Ruth.

Hagers Transfer Residence: Terry and Ruth have transferred their residence to California. Ruth passed her driver’s license test while Terry failed miserably. When he asked Ruth her secret, she said it was reading the prep booklet. Oh, yeah. Terry passed his test the second time—with flying colors. When he tried to rub that in, Ruth compared their total number of mistakes (Ruth’s one test, Terry’s two) and said, “Do the math.”

How do you make a note on the weather less boring? Add some sparkle with humor?

Heavy Rains: After days of rain and more heavy downpours predicted, Terry knew what he had to do. He remembered the story of Noah and the ark, recalling even the dimensions of the vessel. Unfortunately, he remembered an old version of the story. As he supervised several of the guys in Park Sierra on the project, he was heard by this reporter impatiently yelling, “I said thirty cubits high, guys! What is it about 30 cubits you don’t understand?”

Finally, you have to say something about the end of a year and the beginning of a new one. So I made it playful.

Ringin’ It: Terry and Ruth rang out the old year and rang in the new in raucous merriment with fellow guests in a California RV park. Of course, most of the group was, like the Hagers, old and feeble, so they did their midnight countdown with the crowd at Times Square. That way folks could drag themselves to bed to recover from their debauchery by 9:30 p.m.

After many years in the ministry, Terry left Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 1997, with his wife, Ruth, to fulfill their dream of full-time RVing and to have more time to write and pursue photography. He has published numerous articles, mostly in RV and travel magazines, as well as Escapees magazine. In addition, Terry has published two clergy amateur detective mysteries, Death On the Night Watch, and Last Call For Murder. These books are available at amazon.com. Terry and Ruth have been full-time RVers for over 16 years.

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