If I am going to attempt to include humour in my writing there are a few things that I believe must be paramount.
Humour must first begin with me. I need to have a healthy ability to laugh at myself and share my humorous foibles with others. Here are just a few for your amusement.
-As a reporter I once attended an interview with the owner of a fashion store, wearing my shirt inside out! I had gotten dressed in the dark that morning and it wasn’t until I was seated and about to start the interview that I noticed the result of that decision. Perhaps she noticed the look on my face because she excused herself for a moment and that gave me just enough time to slip my sweater back on.
-I once walked out of a Subway store with another man’s sandwich. I hadn’t even ordered a sandwich! I returned sheepishly and when I walked in I was met with the laughter of the clerk and the entire line up. If I was still writing a column that experience would definitely make it in there.
-When I was fourteen, having just arrived in Saskatchewan from Ontario, I was amazed to see the word POOL written across a very tall, elevator shaped building and exclaimed, “Wow! That pool must have a very high diving board!” Imagine, as an avid swimmer, my disappointment to find out that it was a Wheat Pool and the only source for swimming in the hamlet was a slough. That experience did make it into one of my columns. J
Have a few muses in your life. For years my muses were my husband and two sons and sometimes their antics still make it into the occasional blog. Yes, I’ve heard that you need to be careful what you write about family and friends and to respect their privacy but in my case I used the excuse that if they were going to do such ridiculous things, knowing full well that their mother wrote a regular lifestyle column, well what should they expect? Just a couple examples of their redneck behavior that made it into a column or two include;
-My husband and son using a B-B-Gun to shoot mice in the basement after that son left the basement window open and we were sharing our living space with them, unable to trap any of the tricky pests.
-My husband once using a blowtorch to light the birthday candles upon not being able to find a lighter or matches.
Realize that humour can fit into even the most serious piece. Humour softens the blow so to speak and can be an excellent tool to help your readers to bond to you as the writer and be willing to then read the hard stuff. However there is definitely a subtle flair to it that needs to be just right if it is to come off in good taste and not macabre.
-The best example I have of using humour in a serious piece of writing would be my story titled The Christmas Carol that was published in the anthology Christmas Stories and More. The primary story was about a woman who had lost her son in Afghanistan and while writing it I realized that it was sounding just too depressing, even though in real life it would indeed be a depressing life event. But how could I keep my readers wanting to read this story? So I gave the main character some Carollers to listen to and allowed the readers a glimpse into her thoughts as she rather impatiently and without much interest put up with their performance at her door. I hope the effect was that humour lightened the load without taking away from the seriousness of the piece. It is always worth a try at least to add some humour to such writing.
Don’t go it alone. Life is funnier when it involves another person and even better if it is another writer friend, as they will totally understand that you are going to include the hilarious incident that just happened to you both in your writing sometime, somewhere, somehow.
-It was during a writer’s conference in Saskatoon that my friend Pam Mytroen and I decided to take some time before the conference to go to the mall. So we google mapped it and set off only to come upon detour upon detour in construction. Still, we figured that we were following the detours adequately and listening to the many reconfigurations of Google Maps okay; until we found ourselves far out on a grid road, staring at the City Dump. “Uh Pam. I don’t think that’s the mall,” I said. That incident has made for many laughs between the two of us since and made for a few good writing opportunities including this one: D
So in summary; learn to laugh at yourself (often), laugh even more with your family, never underestimate the power of humour in your writing, find some funny friends, and finally; look for those humorous everyday moments, as what looks like just a smelly old dump could end up in a column, devotional or story or two: D
|The Guest family LOL|
Gloria lives, loves, laughs and writes from her home in Caron, Sk., where she lives with her husband and two cats and enjoys visits from her sons, daughter-in-laws and four little grand-daughters.