As I wrote all those term papers in college and graduate school, I made sure to insert at least one pun in every one of them. (A psychologist I’ve known for forty years attributes this punnishness to a busted synapse in my brain.) I titled one term paper, which compares the Oedipus plays of Sophocles and Hugo von Hofmannsthal,“Complex Oedipus.”
I fell into a deeper pit of puns while I was writing Finding New Goddesses. The name of nearly every goddess in the book is a pun. Domineditrix, The Writer’s In-F-able Friend (actually, the Goddess of Editing). Libida Loca, the Goddess of Teenagers. A Wagnerian Goddess of the Glue Gun named Gluinhilda. Semicolonic, Goddess of Gooder English (including punctuation). Chocolata and Vibrata, Goddesses of Ecstasy, and their consorts, Mr. Goodbar and Mr. Buzz All Night. Chi Chi, the Goddess of Feng Shui, and Her Evil Twin, Sha-Na-Na. I had more fun writing this book than any of the others…but I sometimes wonder if I drove my computer’s spell checker to drink.
And I’m afflicted not only by puns. I like to invent words. “Seriosity.” Not quite as solemn as “seriousness.” “Exegesicate.” This is a nonexistent verb based on the noun “exegesis,” which is the critical interpretation of a text, usually scriptural. When I said “exegesicate” to my son, he laughed out loud. So I sent him a birthday card on which I wrote that he was “exegesient.” I’m not sure what that means, but it seems about right for an English teacher (which he is). “Endarkenment.” The appreciation of darkness and shadows and the complement of “enlightenment.” I wrote about both terms in Pagan Every Day. And then there’s “arthropodine,” the word I made up to describe an insect garage band in a story I wrote based on La Fontaine’s “The Grasshopper and the Ant’ in the 2016 Llewellyn Witches’ Companion. In the band are the grasshopper, a cockroach, a couple crickets, and a scorpion—all arthropods, insects with segmented bodies and jointed legs.
Please understand, though, that when I edit your work, I will NOT infest it with puns. I save the puns for my own work.