Every writer has a stance about writing humor, taking a humorous stance, injecting humor in ‘serious’ writing, the whole shebang. The differences start with the definition of humor itself, what it constitutes, what it are the limits and so on.
Many writers consider humor as ‘second grade’, or as something that will trivialize the words they have committed to paper (word processor). Hopefully, the number of ‘keep it serious’ thinkers is not that large. Maybe they’re not aware of a saying that exists in almost any language and roughly translates into “a truth lies behind every joke”.
Around this time exactly fifty years ago, while The Bee Gees were just getting out of their teens back in Australia, still dabbling in pop psychedelia, they came up with “I Started A Joke”, one of their early hits.
It included the following lines:
“I looked at the skies, running my hands over my eyes
And I fell out of bed, hurting my head from things that I’d said
’Til I finally died, which started the whole world living
Oh, if I’d only seen that the joke was on me.”
They were young, but they got it. You cannot avoid humor, and yes, behind every joke there is at least a grain of truth. But then, I guess, some writers are even unconsciously afraid that things can turn out like in The Bee Gees song, and that the joke could be on them. Or that it might reveal too much about the writer herself/himself. Or that they simply aren’t funny.
Of course, you cannot inject humor in your writing if it doesn’t warrant it or just because you think it needs to be there. It usually crops up by itself, naturally. But shying away from humor just because of a general notion that it is trivial, is actually THE thing that can degrade anybody’s writing. Everybody is funny in some way or other and it should reflect in their writing.
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