WRITING FROM A PLACE OF DARKNESS

The evil that is within me unfolds in darkness and splays across the pages in black ink and frantic scrawls.

Protagonists approach of their own volition, each demanding that their story be told. They do not come to me in life’s bright places or during those times when joy and warmth abound.

Instead they linger in the grey places and in the shadows cast by the light of life and wait for the moments of anger and sadness to arrive. Only then do they draw near, their spirits finding resonance with my own darkness.

True, that darkness is not entirely innate, but learned. Life’s lessons are often in reaction to what life throws at us. My darkness is spurred on by unpleasant truths of the real world. The violence unfolding on TV screens. The endless, directionless wars that rage around the world and that are sold to a public that either doesn’t understand or cannot situate these horrific events within its own narrowed perspective.

Then there are the smaller, personal horrors of human existence. The stories that no one wants to talk about, but that unfold in homes and communities world-wide and often remain unspoken. A child stepping in front his mother to shield her from an enraged father’s fists. A spouse beaten black and blue and lying to her friends and family as to how the bruises came to mark her face and body. The unresolved anger of the youthful living towards the aged and dying. All the above founded on a bed-rock of fear.

These horrors are accompanied from the darkness by loneliness, anger and dread and all these crowd my Inner World: The place from which I draw both the inspiration and the mental ink with which to pen the stories my protagonists demand that I write.

Our approach to life is the main determinant in how our lives unfold, but it is not the sole factor driving what we do and who we become. In most aspects of life, there is choice. We can choose to overcome obstacles or to go around them. Alternatively we can choose to smash those obstacles. Yet, over the years when it comes to my writing, I’ve concluded that I simply do not have a choice about where the stories I write come from: They are always drawn from darkness and never from the lighter side of life.

Part of the reason is that darkness is addictive. It is comparable to a narcotic and like a narcotic it can be medicinal in the right quantity but toxic in excess. Darkness can be thrilling and dangerous and attractive for those same reasons. Ultimately, we must all venture into darkness into order to kill the monsters that terrorize us. However such activities are neither healthy nor fulfilling. Better to delve into the darkness and drag the monsters out into the light. We may be even more frightened by what is revealed, but at least there is a chance for resolution.

I write from a place of darkness in order to face my fears. And that makes writing so much more difficult. Even more difficult is controlling the urge not to binge on the darkness narcotic. Perhaps it is best to treat darkness like a fine wine: A beverage that is best enjoyed when sipped rather than guzzled.

 

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