I made a deal with myself to lighten up. Not so much on a personal plane – I no longer try and take myself too seriously, I’m just a female ape who happens to like shoes, wine and chocolate. Not necessarily in combination, although the idea of drinking cold champagne from (clean) slippers could be tempting. Chocolate shoes, nah. Not unless I get to eat them. A party with shoes wine and chocolate could be good. But that is not what I meant about lightening up. As this is a writing blog – yes – yawn… I meant in my writing. Someone once said about some stories of mine that the characters were all ‘miserable buggers’. They weren’t – they were just dealing with issues, OK… And some of the stories were just dark as in noir. But the thing is humour is found, like bright strands, in the darkest murk. Or, darkly, like 80% cocoa chocolate strands in vanilla ice cream. Humour adds a level of understanding to writing that could not be expressed in a thousand words of explication. The ultimate ‘show not tell’ as sometimes it is almost invisible, or subliminal.
I am a fan of Angela Carter who was fearless on the dark side of writing, often with humour carved from haematite. The Bloody Chamber is not for wimps. My ambition, however, is to write in a lighter vein. No portentious effects, but more subtle, a hint of brandy in truffle. An acceptance of the ridiculous and tragic in human dealings without foregrounding ‘this is a problem to be dealt with’. I like Jane Gardam’s work for its delicious humour. The Queen of the Tambourine would have been a very different book without her unreliable narrator’s skewed perspective and her bizarre behaviour taken at face value. Humour allows us to read about serious things without feeling we have been ‘worthy’ somehow. A spoon full of sugar and so on. I could go on, but this is a soundbite blog. From now on I shall embrace the light side. But, like the moon, one side is is sun, the other in shadow. Which side is light and which is dark depends on your viewpoint. You are a traveller in literary spacetime.
I did warn/promise some self-promotion at the outset of this bloglet. I have a new story, lightly humorous, in the September Warwick Review. http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/arts/english/writingprog/warwickreview/
Also coming up is a story in issue 55 of Tears in the Fence, mentioned earlier.
End of advert.