So this week we worked on drafts for our labels for the Independence Seaport Museum. It's by no means perfect, but here's mine so far:
Imagine standing in mud, soaked from head to toe, fingers numb from cold, hungry enough to eat rats, while artillery shells scream overhead. To top it off, boredom has set in. This was life for many soldiers. How did they cope? Humor.
Humor in WWI was often spread in soldier newspapers, such as the British The Wipers Times. There was extensive use of satire, irony, and gallows humor, all which served to lighten the mood, relieve stress, and build solidarity among soldiers through common experiences. On the Olympia, Keck drew several humorous cartoons. Olympians no doubt joked around regularly.
My typical writing process for papers obviously wasn't going to work here, so I was at a bit of a loss how to start. I first wrote a simple label, which I since completely trashed. However, writing that gave me a sense of the key ideas I wanted to articulate--and from there, I started on this draft. I thought back to Serrell and decided to engage the reader with their imagination, to draw them in. I drew on my own experiences of being miserable and knowledge of trench warfare to craft a scenario of misery, then reworded it several times to condense it and streamline it. After that, I took the key ideas I wanted to express and smashed them into the most concise yet readable and understandable sentence I could, then finished by bringing it back to the Olympia. This section I also edited several times.
Since I only have 100 words, I'm hoping readers can decipher the satire of a trench newspaper called The Wipers Times. I also wanted to engage modern soldier humor, such as that found on Duffel Blog (basically a modern Wipers Times for the US military) and in military memes found on Instagram and Facebook. However, I decided both of these were less crucial to my label and thus excluded them.