In a recent visit to Eastern’s Spokane Center, Pat McManusjoined a class of journalism students to explain his journey inhumor writing.
McManus, a native of the Northwest, was born and raised justnorth of Sandpoint, Idaho. He is best known for his humorous shortstories recounting his days as a boy in the Pend Orielle area.
He is the author and renowned columnist of many books, stageplays and hundreds of freelance articles published in some of themost famous magazines including Outdoor Life, Reader’sDigest, Sports Illustrated and TV Guide.
Humor writing didn’t always come easy to McManus. He toldof his time struggling through writing classes. He saved enoughmoney as a kid to attend Washington State University, where he wasrequired to write an essay a week in his first English Compositionclass.
“My first dozen essays came back with F’s,”said McManus, “but diligence paid off, and I ended the classwith several A’s.” His professor even recommended himfor honors English the next semester.
At first, McManus had a love for art. Growing up, he wanted tobecome a famous artist, like Norman Rockwell, he said, but once hebecame fascinated with writing he spent more time writing essaysthan he did drawing pictures.
“You have to keep doing it,” said McManus.”Keep believing in yourself.”
“The fear in writing comes from exposing your thoughts andyour emotions and ultimately yourself to public scrutiny andpossible scorn,” said McManus, but the greatest experience iswhen people burst out in a roar of laughter because of yourwriting.
The best type of writing is when the style vanishes, he said.”You don’t want the reader to realize they are readingwriting,” said McManus.
McManus let us in on one of his writing secrets. He said to usethe trick of reversal. It’s not funny to write about the bestdog in town that can do the best tricks, but it can be funny if youhave the worst dog in town, said McManus. It adds irony to yourwriting and through that irony comes humor, he said.
This style has worked well for McManus. He has led his readerson a wild ride of adventures. From The Night the Bear Ate Goombawto Never Sniff a Gift Fish and Real Ponies Don’t Go Oink,each of his stories will leave you with uncontrollable laughter andshortness of breath.
McManus recently wrote the book, The Deer on a Bicycle, which isan excursion into writing humor. It is his first book published bythe EWU press, whose proceeds will fund an endowment for EWU toprovide scholarships for EWU students.
McManus continues to spend his time between Sandpoint andSpokane, where he just finished his first mystery novel. It is notyet published, but there’s no doubt that it will be anothergreat success.