Open Book Blog Hop – Humour

‘Is humour an important element is your stories? Do you ever laugh at something you’ve written?’

I am a very serious person. I have always been like that. My mother says I was a serious and self controlled baby. I rarely cried or gave her any trouble. I was what people call an “easy” baby. My mother says it was almost as if I knew how difficult things were for her following my biological father’s death and I made her life as easy as possible. Who knows, maybe babies can sense such things.

I was also an easy toddler. I went to nursery school because my mother had to work full time and mother says I never complained or even spoke about school. This characteristic of quiet tolerance has followed me throughout my life. In retrospect, it has not been a good thing for me. I should have realised you have to enter the fray in a corporate and fight to succeed. I was rather delusional and believed that among professional people, hard work and a bright mind would be given recognition as a natural progression. I didn’t know that quiet and tolerant people are used and abused and that if you don’t demand, or even threaten, you don’t get anything. That realisation only came to me much later in my working life. By the time my colleagues realised how much they needed my skills, I had lost interest and found a whole new writing life to consume a lot of my intellectual energy and abilities.

I often don’t enjoy, or find humour in, movies, books and other media that most people find funny. There are certain types of humour I enjoy, mainly dark humour and some British humour. Slapstick never does it for me and I don’t watch the movies my husband enjoys. My taste in books runs to the serious too. I read a lot of classics, my current favourites being Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy and The Red Badge of Courage, as well as my all time favourite book, Bram Stoker’s Dracula. No humour there.

This line of thought takes me to my own writing. It is generally not humorous. I write fantasy for children which is not funny but rather mystical [I hope] and imaginative. Silly Willy Goes to Cape Town has some humour as I modelled it along the lines of My Naughty Little Sister and it is about the antics of a naughty and irrepressible little boy and his serious older brother. This book has been my only attempt at any sort of humorous writing. I realised after I published it that most people don’t understand my subtle and tongue-in-cheek humour.

My poetry is also serious and is always inspired by an event or situation which has upset me. I tend to write a lot of poetry about the poverty and corruption in Africa and the lack of personability or caring in the corporate world.

My adult writing is supernatural history or horror and is never funny. I enjoy reading about history and I like to share interesting historical situations with other people in the form of an entertaining [but dark] story. My writing always has the purpose of highlighting a specific theme within the historical event. For example, my new novel, A Ghost and His Gold, is aimed at unveiling some of the psychology of the Second Anglo Boer War and examining how the circumstances of this war set the stage for the next phase of South African history. I don’t believe this is obvious to a reader, they would need to almost look for it. People who know the history well will recognise these themes.

So this, in a nutshell, is my experience of humour in life and writing. I shall end this post with a quote from Matilda by Roald Dahl:

“There aren’t many funny bits in Mr Tolkien either,’ Matilda said.
‘Do you think that all children’s books ought to have funny bits in them?’ Miss Honey asked.
‘I do,’ Matilda said. ‘Children are not so serious as grown-ups and love to laugh.”

I have dark [and serious] stories included in the following two anthologies:

If you click on the link below, you’ll see what other blog-hoppers think about humour. Of course you can even add your own comment to this blog if you prefer.

Rules:

  1. Link your blog to this hop.
  2. Notify your following that you are participating in this blog hop.
  3. Promise to visit/leave a comment on all participants’ blogs.
  4. Tweet/or share each person’s blog post. Use #OpenBook when tweeting.
  5. Put a banner on your blog that you are participating.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

https://fresh.inlinkz.com/party/859752d20f38436c9eafb00a4e0a4926

69 thoughts on “Open Book Blog Hop – Humour

  1. I also enjoyed reading Dracula. Did you ever watch the new adaptation on Netflix? Thank you for sharing memories of your childhood. You must have made life a lot easier for the adults around you. And I totally understand your early experience with corporate. I was delusional, too. Haha. I only did it for a year, and goodbye. Life improved by a hundred.

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    1. Hi Micah, I was thinking about you earlier today and thinking I must pop over and check out your blog. Some of us just aren’t cut out for corporate life. I have done it for 22 years and am now opting out.

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      1. Yes, that is true, Micah. I have a very high stress job in corporate finance. There is a lot I enjoy about it but there is a lot of administration and politics in a corporate. I have discovered that no matter how hard you try, you just can’t avoid these things.

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    2. For all Dracula lovers I can heartily recommend Joseph O’Connor’s most recent work “Shadowplay”. It tells the story of Bram Stoker’s relationship with Ellen Terry and Henry Irving. Stoker was Irving’s theatre manager and tour manager. Irving was a demanding boss and, in this version of Stoker’s life, Stoker takes solace in the struggle to write Dracula in his spare time, often locking himself away in an attic in the Theatre to write throughout the night. And there is plenty of humour in it too! Here is a link to my review of the book: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3067288678?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

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      1. I suddenly realised why I am unhappy, Liz. It is because I need to be inspired at work. Things have changed dramatically at the firm where I work over the past three years and there is no inspiration. The state of mind of the leadership is different and some of my colleagues remind me of people at a bus stop waiting for a bus to come. It is killing me and I can’t do it anymore. I have a huge feeling of relief at the thought of not having to sit in boring meetings all day talking about the same things that never change because no one has the motivation to take any action. I think you will understand.

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      2. I will give it a try. I’m not sure it will be ‘enough’ for me as I do enjoy the stimulation of deal making. I can contract on a part time basis if I need more challenges. Contracting is not the same because you are not permanent staff and are not included in all the administration and politics.

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  2. I can’t say there’s a lot of humor in your stories, but you choose topics that don’t lend themselves to humor – except the Sir Chocolate. There’s a subtle humor there in the personalities of those characters.

    I’d also say that while humor is not always desired in books, it can break the tension. Shakespeare did it, for Pete’s sake. I get accused of doing it too much.

    But considering humor in a book is like considering if the pajamas should be added to the soup. Usually, no – and the soup is better for it.

    I know this: if you wanted to add humor to your stories, you could do it. You’ve shown yourself capable of mastering the artwork of cakes, the artwork of storytelling – why not a funny, minor character in a story? One whose sense of humor suits your tastes? I think you’d be surprised at how few humorous things they need to say to be quite a wit.

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  3. Thanks for your thoughts, Dan, your soup comment gave me a giggle. It is something I will think about, although I haven’t to date. I am always nervous about humour as people, my own family included, frequently don’t understand attempts at humour.

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  4. I could use a little bit of your seriousness; I tend to take things too lightly, and that has not always been the best approach. I always look for the humor in things and enjoy a wide variety of comedians…

    But I guess the most important thing is that we know who we are; and it seems like you have had great success in both your business and writing careers…

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    1. Hi Jim, I have had great success in my role as a corporate financier and I always knew I would retire youngish as it is a very stressful and demanding world. I have just decided to make it now rather than in a year’s time. I am feeling very happy with myself today for finally sorting this out.

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      1. HI Jim, I am leaving earlier than planned. My son has his final year of high school next year and I had intended to continue to the end of the year. It is making me miserable though so I’m leaving earlier. I may consult, I haven’t decided yet, but I will definitely write.

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  5. My dad had a great sense of humour which got us through the rough times. I try to add some humour in my books as kids love to laugh as Matilda said. I appreciate serious people as well and I can be both. Did I read you resigned from your job? Good for you. I thought you were working way too hard (and probably not being appreciated). I left a very stressful job once and found something so much better for me. Less money but better quality of life. Hugs!

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  6. I absolutely adore dark and serious and gritty. It’s good stuff! And I enjoy comedy in the classics that if you are not reading closely, you aren’t going to catch on to the burn between characters. Good post!

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    1. I agree that there is subtle humour in a lot of books. When I thought about humour for this challenge, I was thinking about obviously humorous books like Bridget Jones’ Diary or The Diary of Adrian Mole. I’m not sure I’ll ever write a book like that but never say never.

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  7. A thoughtful piece of writing. I think humor is very personal. I too fail to see what other people find funny on many occasions. My family has always had “inside” jokes that make us laugh and laugh that no one else would understand. I do like silliness, but not making fun of people. (K)

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    1. Hi Kerfe, everyone’s sense of humour is different, but a lot of people enjoy a specific style of humour for example, slapstick humour. I don’t like it but my husband does. I like dark humour and some British humour as I said, but I’m not sure about writing it. Maybe one day when I’ve conquered my current writing challenges.

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  8. I enjoy humor and admire those who can write it well… I’m not one of those who can. I’m one of those serious folk, but love to laugh and enjoy life to the full. 🙂 Enjoyed your post and sharing, Robbie! xo

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  9. I love well-done dark humour, and, of course, British humour. I don’t put a lot of humour in my writing, simply because I’m not very good at it, but I do enjoy reading something that gives me a wry smile (not an out-loud chuckle, mind).

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  10. Robbie – it was nice to learn more about you – and your contented nature from being an easy baby and loyal worker says a lot about a wonderful person!
    I am glad you did not have that harsh demanding style while worker – I don’t seem to have it either and the more I learn about it – the more I am glad that was not my style
    – yuck!

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    1. I have realised, Yvette, that I am a very creative person and I need to be inspired by what I do. If not a part of my spirit starts to die. Others will do anything for money so their motivations are different. The world needs all sorts of people.

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      1. Oh you are so right – and not to sound cheesy but these traits also make you so right to write!
        Or I think that this is what makes a writer really set apart – gives their work depth and a sense of who they are when they come to it as an art and expression of creativity
        In contrast – some that write for money ha e different essence

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      2. You are spot on, Yvette. A lot of writers and artists are like this and that is probably why many have historically and currently not made money from their books during their life styles. I discovered recently that Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte was vanity published originally and thought that was very interesting.

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      1. Oh I agree!!
        And humor can be subtle too- it doesn’t always have to be a huge belly laugh – right?
        And you might like this little story from when my son was four – because it has to do with frosting – well my son and made a sail boat cake for his class for his 4th bday
        Not the way you make wonderful cakes with fondant and artsy items / but still a little artsy with the triangle sail
        And colored icing
        And we used “Orange” frosting for a few parts and when my son came home – he asked if orange frosting was super weird?? Huh?
        And he said it was weird to have orange frosting
        We then figured out his teacher said it (so long ago now) but to this day – if someone says something is weird one of us will say “but…. not as weird as orange frosting”
        And it brings humor to our life – that smile and joy giving humor that also can be added to stories

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      2. That is such a lovely story, Yvette. I really enjoyed having small children, they are so much fun. I wonder if the teacher’s comment had to do with the chemical that was used to colour food orange in the 80s and 90s. I can’t think what it’s called but it was quite controversial and has subsequently been banned.

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      3. HI – YOU COULD BE RIGHT ABOUT THE CHEMICALS – (sorry – just turned off the caps)
        and the year was 2001- and we used reasonably good product – but now I would not use anything with artificial colorings –
        and the way we took his comment from he teacher (who was sweet) was that it was her reply – something like “I never saw orange frosting before..” and he seemed to respond well to sharing about it – if that makes sense – and I think I extra enjoy your artsy confections because I have made a dozen or so different kind of cakes (no fondant tho it was starting to emerge)

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      4. well I really enjoyed our comment chat this week – and isn’t it funny how sometimes we lose touch with a blog friend and then have a season of good connecting – so cool when that happens

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  11. That’s interesting, Robbie. I enjoyed finding that out about you. As you know, I’m not into the dark and scary. I tend to think there’s enough of that in real life, why add to it. I hadn’t thought of myself as a writer of humour either, but I’ve had a few readers comment on the humour in my (unpublished) children’s stories recently. It made me think about my writing in a whole new way. I guess I have always enjoyed the humour in children’s stories, but I enjoy the character development and delving into the psyche in adult books.

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    1. That is nice feedback you’ve had about your unpublished children’s stories, Norah. There is some subtle humour in my children’s books, particularly with the characters and their names, as one reader pointed to me. Children’s books lend themselves to some humour. I suppose when I think of humour in books I think more of the blatant humour in books labeled as funny.

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