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Is it possible?

  1. Absolutely! Anything is.

    6 vote(s)
    54.5%
  2. No, not this topic.

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  3. Tricky, but possible. Have proofread by at least 70 people who know your heart.

    5 vote(s)
    45.5%
  1. No-Name Slob

    No-Name Slob Member Supporter Contributor

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    Don’t Shoot: Controversial Question Ahead

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by No-Name Slob, Oct 3, 2017.

    I best write creative non-fiction; I take the mundane and/or frustrating scenarios in life and I make them witty & relatable. Sometimes I’m able to apply this to painful scenarios, as well.

    Recently, I’ve been through enough trauma and assault that, if it weren’t so real, one might be shocked just to the point of laughter.

    I’ve been too paralyzed to write about it because my voice seems socially disrespectful to the topic of sexual assault and gender violence, but writing itself is healing for me. In fact, often appropriate and tasteful laughter is my own personal medication.

    Do you think it’s possible to write about the tragedies of trauma in a reverent, yet occasionally humorous way?

    This is a victim/survivor (the awkward dance around which to assign in this situation is something I could play easily with, just off the top of my head), asking the general writing public and especially anyone who has been in my shoes—Is it impossible to relate to such a somber topic this way? Is it maybe even easier to grasp those emotions through laughter for some?

    If you’d rather not advertise that we share in this experience but would still like to weigh in, feel free to message me your response! And if you have any resources on this, I welcome them with open arms.
     
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  2. OJB

    OJB A Mean Old Man Contributor

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    I just want to comment on this and this alone.

    Isn't this the whole idea behind Rhetoric? To get an audience to see your point of view through humor and persuasion (even if that point of view is painful)? I'd say that not only is it possible, but rhetorical writing was made for this type of thing.

    -OJB
     
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  3. Laurus

    Laurus Disappointed Idealist Contributor

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    Yes.
    If you write this, some will laud you and call you brave. Others will hate you and call you impertinent and worse. But no one gets to tell you how to heal. You have to put your own well-being first, and if that means writing about this, then goddamnit, write.

    I've only made it this far because I'm willing and able to laugh at the bullshit life throws my way, and no one has yet stopped me from doing so. We all have our burdens, and it's up to each one of us to learn how to best carry those. If yours is writing, then write til your fingers bleed. Just save enough strength in your middle digits for those who say you can't or shouldn't. Fuck em. Do you.
     
  4. izzybot

    izzybot Transhuman Autophage Contributor

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    I don't think you can go wrong with writing about your own personal experiences. Everyone might not appreciate it (when does that happen anyway, though?), including people with similar experiences, but to me personally, you're allowed to talk about things that happened to you however you want. I've gone way too long without sleep right now to remember this properly, but there's some kind of 'rule' in comedy that the self is always the best or safest target.

    In a more general sense, I guess, dark or weighty or scary concepts can just be easier for people to grasp with a little levity. It can help to demystify and destigmatize talking about the subject in general by making it seem more approachable and not so larger-than-life. I don't think that humor denigrates the importance of the subject; some people do, to be fair. My personal experience is that I have some pretty crippling mental health issues, and I know it's a lot easier to talk about when you can treat it as if it's not the end of the world to you, and you're still a relatable and real and complete human being who exists outside of it - when you can crack a joke or just be blase about it yourself, other people tend to not find it quite so intimidating.

    So, yeah, I definitely think that these kinds of topics can (and imo, should) be written about in contexts other than the grimdark, so to speak.
     
  5. Fernando.C

    Fernando.C Contributor Contributor

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    I think it's absolutely possible. One of the important functions and purposes of humor is that it can make discussing and exploring controversial, sensitive and dark topics somewhat easier. Comedy allows us to laugh at tragedies and trauma and generally terrible things as a way of facing them, the trick is taking care not to cheapen said tragedies and traumas. But yes it can absolutely be done.
     
  6. Clementine_Danger

    Clementine_Danger Active Member

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    Yes, I've been there. Kudos to you for getting onto a path of coping and dealing. It's a long but rewarding one.

    You are writing about your experience, in your voice. Not mine, not anyone else's, yours. Your story is yours to do with as you see fit and anyone who tells you otherwise needs to step right the hell back. The only way this can have meaning to you or anyone else is if it is honest and heartfelt. If laughter is what comes naturally to you, write laughter. Humor is unbelievably powerful, and not at all synonymous with irreverence.

    You are nobody's representative but your own. Write honestly and you're 99% of the way to creating something valuable to yourself and potentially others.
     
  7. No-Name Slob

    No-Name Slob Member Supporter Contributor

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    Thanks, guys. I think I just needed to hear outside perspective and be given a little bit of permission to take creative license with something admittedly awful and horrendous, even if it is my own awful and horrendous experience. Because it mirrors that of so many, the last thing I’d ever want to do is to belittle or demean such a weighty topic.
     
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  8. No-Name Slob

    No-Name Slob Member Supporter Contributor

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    I’m so sorry you had to go through it. It’s such a struggle to deal with, and I think the worst part is the length of the healing process. Wanting to simply take control and power back after it’s been stolen and realizing you have to dedicate work you don’t have the energy to give and time you don’t have in order to do it – for me, that’s the most difficult and enraging part.
     
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  9. Shenanigator

    Shenanigator Has the Vocabulary of a Well-Educated Sailor. Contributor

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    Say that in the piece.

    I'm sorry that happened to you, and that you have to even ask how to use YOUR voice to tell YOUR story.

    But you are wise to consider it, because put bluntly, you will get flack. People will get angry.

    It's nice to think that the world is understanding of needing to put a humorous slant on something to cope with it, and perhaps people are in general. But people who take the time to voice their opinions to writers' work these days tend to be loud and angry. People tend to get ticked off when someone changes the narrative of something that's close to them or that they're holding onto, whether that thing is positive or negative.

    But that's THEIR problem, not yours.

    I support you.

    Take good care of yourself. And, as @Laurus said, save some strength in your middle digits.
     
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  10. Clementine_Danger

    Clementine_Danger Active Member

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    The anger is so destructive, but it demands to be felt. I think writing is an excellent compass on a confusing and winding road. If you need beta-readers, let me know.
     
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  11. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    I find myself wanting to recommend Christopher Titus's Norman Rockwell is Bleeding comedy special and probably some of the subsequent ones. Not the same topic, just the comedy/tragedy mix and how it was achieved by one person.
     
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  12. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    I think you have to be careful here. You don't want to comprise a good story at the cost of being witty. It can be done. Just make sure it's appropriate, I recommend reading the memoir The Suicide Index by Joan Wickersham. It's a very powerful memoir, but this author let's readers breath. I wouldn't say it's a funny story at all, but the author, I believe, is pretty witty at times. I think it could be a good example for you and maybe help you figure out how to bring, well, you with your wit and comic relief into you're story
     
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  13. MythMachine

    MythMachine Active Member

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    Personally, I've never been through such trials, but I'd play on the safe side in regards to assault (sexual abuse or otherwise). Laughter generally indicates a positive, but these are very negative topics, so as a reader, I don't know if I could ever hybridize the two. However, recovering from such ordeals is indeed very positive, so, perhaps, look at applying humor to that?

    I'll use some example from my own experiences. Very recently, my dad passed away from Pancreatic cancer, something he had to live with the awareness of for almost a year. It was a very draining and gut-wrenching ordeal and a death I would not wish upon the worst of people. Even in these hardest of times, there were moments that, while they of course could not break the reality of the cancer that wasted him, at least put in on a brief pause. I could never find humor with anything in regards to his suffering, but I could joke about those small moments that stopped time; the moments he smiled with his big, white-toothed, and perfect smile, or said something memorable that fit his stubborn and/or perfectionist personality, despite how much pain he endured up to that point. I think the subject of cancer is by no means an easy one to tackle. It's a scary and traumatizing road to walk, for both the victims and the families of, and should, by no means, be taken lightly. Despite being a human disease, cancer is very dehumanizing, stealing away from us that which makes us feel unique and appreciated in the form of our life and dreams. If I wanted to address such a heavy topic in a book, I would probably try to balance it out with that human touch... those moments of growth and connection, and occasional comedy, even in the darkest of times; that is the human touch.

    If you are earnest in your writing, and don't disconnect yourself from the topic, your added humor will do just fine, if not improve the quality of your telling. Not everyone will be satisfied, but you aren't trying to satisfy everyone, only those that you can. Write how you feel you write best, with your best intentions, and those intentions will be found by readers who can understand and appreciate them. I wish you the best of luck :love:
     
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  14. No-Name Slob

    No-Name Slob Member Supporter Contributor

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    Taking a screen shot of that offer so I can refer back when it’s time! Thank you!
     
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  15. No-Name Slob

    No-Name Slob Member Supporter Contributor

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    First of all, I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your father.

    The humor would definitely be focused more on the recovery process and the stories we tell rather than the acts themselves.

    But you bring up a good point I’ve contemplated. I wonder if the majority of the outrage would be primarily from readers who’ve never personally experienced this situation but who want to be a voice for those who have. It’s difficult to empathize with sexual assault enough to be able to relate to the occasionally humorous places we find ourselves in recovery unless you’ve literally been on that road.
     
  16. izzybot

    izzybot Transhuman Autophage Contributor

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    As someone who hasn't had this particular experience but tries to pay attention and listen - I've definitely seen a lot louder, angrier reactions from the people in my position. That's why I keep my damn mouth shut :D I think it's easy for folks to feel super protective over a group they feel sympathy for and not realize they're actually talking over people in trying to help. You see it in a lot of (well, probably all, honestly) outsider advocacy type groups. And it can be difficult to deal with them and tell them to chill out because you so often come across this savior complex of "you don't know what's best for you, I know what's best for you". I don't have a solution for managing these types of people other than largely ignoring them, unfortunately. It's just important to remember that they don't know what's best for you, and if they genuinely cared, they'd listen to you.
     
  17. peachalulu

    peachalulu Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Absolutely. I had a kinda rough childhood, in some ways, and survived it with black humor. Not everyone is going to get it but that's not surprising. My one note would be never apologize and don't issue trigger warnings. I'm only for those on writing sites because you want people to critique your story -- not get caught up in talking about controversial/'controversial' issues. But out there on a blog or whatever people need to understand that's your voice. No apologies. You're speaking for yourself ... not a group.
     
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  18. KaTrian

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Contributor

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    Yes. Most people are able to discern between mean humor and relief humor, but I think a lot of people refuse to for whatever reason, especially in this day and age. By relief humor, I mean something that provides relief, maybe offers a way to deal with the trauma, face it instead of run from it, and so on. Gallows humor.

    For the longest time I didn't write about sexual assault because I felt that whenever I stepped into designated internet spaces I was bombarded with messages about 'the right way to cope'.

    I think it was only this year I went and wrote it all out without giving a shit about others who haven't experienced sexual assault dictating how it should be done. It's kind of sad it took me 10 years to get the words on paper although they did exist in my head all this time.
     
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  19. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    I note that when I got the news that my mother had cancer that was likely to kill her in a few months, I immediately sat down to watch Norman Rockwell is Bleeding. It wasn't really relevant to the situation (his abusive womanizing alcoholic but hard-working father and criminally insane mother had essentially zero in common with the brands of dysfunctional that my mother was) but it was precisely what I needed.

    My point being that this stuff has value.
     
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  20. No-Name Slob

    No-Name Slob Member Supporter Contributor

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    It’s what propelled Tig Notaro to immediate fame, her ability to laugh at having just been diagnosed with breast cancer.
     
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