I carry a lot of darkness around. Some of the shadow is the result of past life experience and some of it’s from genetics. This is unfortunate for me and the people around me, so I have been working on reducing or managing that dark streak since I was about ten. I still have a long way to go, but the good news is that sometimes I make a little improvement.
The other good news is that the darkness fuels my writing, sometimes consciously, sometimes unconsciously. My first novel*, even though it’s funny (I hope), is set in Hell, and filled with monsters and violence. Even Heaven turns out to be less than it’s cracked up to be. Those elements, even though couched in slapstick silliness, come from that black crack in my heart. My second novel, now in progress, is a dark thing. The world it’s set in is hostile. People use and abuse each other and take it for business as usual. That setting, those characters, the story, all drink from the same vein of darkness I haul around.
Maybe it’s time to turn off the lights and venture into the shadows.
Lest I dig a complete ditch of despair, I have to pause and observe that I have more than a shadow land inside. There’s love, sensitivity, humor, determination, compassion—all kinds of good stuff—in my interior landscape. It’s these bright aspects that enable me to turn that rage and depression into art (such as it is). The creation of art, in turn, makes my life brighter.
Ideas from the Shadows
But it’s still the dark side that spins up most of my ideas. I think this is because conflict is what drives stories, and you don’t find conflict at the bright end of the rainbow; you find it along the path of the rainbow while you’re fighting to get to the blasted end.
Are you hard up for a story idea? Or for the next turn in your story’s path? Maybe it’s time to turn off the lights and venture into the shadows.
Happy writing (be it dark or light),
*Novel #1: Trouble Spots