Yesterday I received a prompt for a story that got me thinking about my childhood. I was planning the story in my mind, a simple tale of a car that that took me where ever I needed to go without having to actually drive there. I was planning it out and trying to find the story and the voice. I thought about it for half the day and I wasn’t getting anywhere. If the story doesn’t come after giving it some decent thought I usually discuss it with Ben and we work it out together, but Ben wasn’t there so I decided to shelve it in favor of another story I had been considering.
I wanted to write something light and happy, so I set to work imagining this new concept into being. But as I followed the trail of ‘logic’ and ideas deeper into the story I realized it was not going to be as light and happy as I intended, in fact it was starting to look like it might be something completely different. In the past few days I have been noticing that my writing has been distinctively dark, veering into the disturbing and it has made me wonder. I used to think that I was against writing about dark and disturbing things, without the hope of a happy ending. This was mostly because of what it might say about me. Was I a pessimist at heart? Was I not as positive as I needed to be in order to live a happy life? People always say write what you know and so, does that mean that this trend of unsettling tales is what I know? Does all of this expose some sort of horrible darkness lurking within me?
I suppose one could psychoanalyze one’s art all day long and find hidden patterns exposing the kind of person they truly are, but the question I ask myself then is: does it really matter? So what if my stories tend to speak of isolation, with hints of misery and suggestions of despair? So what if I dive into the depths of negative emotions? My stories aren’t just black holes sucking you in, they also glitter with magic and mystery. They tantalize with hints of worlds beyond this one and they sparkle with intrigue. I like to think that although they may be dark they are also so much more. But even if they weren’t would it really make a difference? Some of the most interesting and well written stories I have ever read involve intense horror and nightmarish mystery.
I should explain that my concern about being dark and negative is not without it’s roots. I have been told in the past that certain amounts of negativity can be bad for the soul and that what I write reveals a great many things about who I am as a person. I suppose I have a little left-over trauma from that time and find that I am more sensitive then most would be about the direction my stories take. I certainly don’t want to be bound by these ideas though and I wouldn’t want anyone else to be either.
So I hereby agree to release myself into the land of my imagination. I will allow my stories to take whatever form they wish and unfetter myself from concerns about my inner darkness. Maybe one day I will write a bright and cheery story, but if that thought doesn’t inspire me, why bother?