My father landed on Normandy beach in about the twenty-third wave. He was a secretary for the Colonel who took over running the railroads in France as they were captured. Dad could type about a gazzilion words per minute on a manual typewriter. That was important, because the Germans only had one that could type half-a-gazzilion wpm.
After trying so hard to keep his trains and tracks from being blown up, and being shot at a few times, as well as being bombed, he came home and studied journalism at Northwestern on the G I Bill. He went from there to work in Washington D C, a place known for having no sense of humor. Then after a brief stint in serious gangster land (Chicago) he ended up in New York editing Railway Age Magazine.
The company my Dad worked for all of his career published mostly professional journals and magazines. My dad ended his career many years later as Executive Editor of Banking Magazine, the journal of the American Bankers Association. Bankers also have no sense of humor (so I have been told).
All that serious, professional stuff. I think that is why it made such a mark when every now and then he would say, “Life is too important to take seriously.”
His heart was light. His writing was easy to read, and even, and sometimes especially when the subject was utterly serious and professional. People not only read his work, they enjoyed his work.
We who seek to write, fiction and non-fiction should consider this lesson. We believe in our work, especially when it is non-fiction – that it is important and oh-so-serious. But most of all, we want readers. As my son says, “Lighten up.” This is a good motto to remember when you are so deeply immersed in the serious importance of your work you can hardly come up for air: “Life is too important to take seriously.” — J. W. Kizzia