Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Pull that trigger (warning)

A week or so ago, a great article was posted on Ginger Nuts of Horror regarding trigger warnings. You can read it here. It's got me thinking about my own view on triggers and warnings - an issue I've mulled over for the last couple of years since I first encountered the term.

As a horror writer, I obviously cover violent and unpleasant subjects. Nasty things happen in my fiction; it doesn't end well for a lot of the characters, and even with those who do make it through...well, shit happens before the end of the of the tale. Does that sound familiar? Does it sound a bit like. . .life?

You're probably guessing I'm not too much of a fan of trigger warnings and I have to admit (and maybe because we're all so concerned with causing offence, I should apologise beforehand) you'd be right. Of course, it's easy as hell for me to dismiss them from my position of privilege. I've never been abused, attacked or hurt by someone who wanted to do so because of my gender, sexuality or their authority over me. The chances are, I never will so what gives me the right to get stroppy over the subject of trigger warnings? Simply because when I write what I write, there's a good chance someone will read one of my books or stories and have a highly negative reaction to a scene or character (and this happened with a writer friend who read and critiqued The Red Girl for me). With writing horror, I open myself up to hurting a reader with my words, but I'm still not a fan of trigger warnings. No person who's undergone horrific events in their past wants to relive them or come across a reminder of them by accident. At the same time, avoiding those issues can be next to impossible unless you cut yourself off from all fiction or news or other people which is obviously not going to happen. With that in mind, it might not seem too much to ask that a book comes with a warning. We didn't have trigger warnings twenty or so years ago but we do now because we want to be better than the past, don't we? We just left people to risk reliving their hurts by accident back then, didn't we? But we're better than that now. We want to keep people happy. We want to celebrate the importance and happiness of everybody. Overdo it, though, and you risk blanketing people from one of life's big truths.

It's shit. It's hard and ugly and bad things happens to good people for no reason at all. We can't pretend otherwise or overlook this just as we shouldn't overlook the good stuff. We need to incorporate both into our lives as much as we can. Sometimes, we fail on both, but we have to keep trying. Warning people that a piece of fiction will cause them hurt, stress, misery or any other negative reaction is to cheapen something that makes us human.

We keep going. Life and all its shittiness doesn't get to win. We do when we keep going.

So, no, count me out of supporting warnings. Count me in for facing all the monsters in the world and doing whatever it takes to cut their heads off...while always facing them.

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