Every time I think about re-starting my blog about an english girl’s adventures in Canada, I come across the same problem. The best way to make it interesting to other people would be to cast it in a humorous light, a la “A Year in the Merde”, Stephen Clarke’s book (later, series of books) about his time in France. But my sense of humour is traditionally British – dry and sardonic. If sarcasm is the lowest form of wit, then I might be the lowest form of whit(1).
Ok, I throw in the occasional pun for good measure, but mostly my sense of humour doesn’t translate well onto the page, and especially not to a Canadian audience. It didn’t take me long over here to discover that God’s Frozen People were taking me far too seriously, and potentially getting upset by what I appeared to be saying.
For example, in one piece of short fiction, I had a young character who doesn’t like children, refer to the “spawn” of some of her friends. To me, it was clear that the term was used (by the character) in jest and with an eye to the dramatic, but my writing group friends were almost universally appalled!
So I hesitate to publish any anecdotes about life in the colonies for fear of causing offence, or at least confusion. And my fictional writing tends to steer clear of any attempts at humour too. Maybe this is why I am always inclined to write about death and destruction!
If you have any hints or tips about ways to add humour, and particularly how to indicate sarcasm in print, I’d love to hear from you. Otherwise it’s back to reading Clarke and Austen, two great British wits (whits?) for suggestions.
1. Whit, for those without a British English dictionary, is a 15c variant of “wight” and means “creature”.
8 responses to “Writer seeks Readers, GSOH a must!”
My first instinct is to tell you that your writing group was too reactive, and that a different reader would have seen “spawn” and understood that it was a joke. On the other hand, humour’s highly dependent on context, and pacing for British and Canadian sensibilities can be very different.
I don’t think you should let them scare you off writing sarcastic humour, though! Try a few more readers and see what they say. These things can be highly individual!
As you know, I use “spawn” in jesting reference to my own child, so I did not think it offensive. However, I am american and we are not known for being polite or PC.
Speaking of which, my spawn has woken up from her nap.
As you know, I use the word “spawn” to jestingly refer to my own offspring. However, I am american, not canadian, and we are known to be more crass.
Speaking of which, I hear my spawn waking up from nap in the other room. Elmo, I would read for you if you need more readers.
The great part about the internet is that you can find all sorts of readers. There are tons of Canadians who enjoy British humour. I mean, there are also some who don’t understand it, but don’t mind them. Or mind them a little, but don’t let them paralyse your writing.
I can’t entirely guarantee that other Canadians feel the same way I do, as only my mother is a North American heathen.
Post away. Having your own voice is the most important thing. If people don’t like it – there’s plenty of other stuff online to read!
Thanks for all the votes of confidence! I will endeavour to overcome my nerves and throw a bit of humour in once in a while. See what you think when you actually see it in black and white!
I am Canadian but my parents are British. I grew up on british humour and TV shows. Send your writing my way as I love your friday flash.
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