As writers we often describe ourselves as ‘dark’. It makes us seem cooler right? I mean let’s be honest we sit behind a computer all day while our diets go to hell, muscle atrophy kicks in, and our social skills hit the skids despite our need to engage with society so our writing reflects real life. We want our stories to be believable, right?
The Darkness is useful and necessary in stories. It can even be beautiful. It lends itself to mood, feelings, and events because it’s a part of everyday life.
But I feel like this motif often gets overused, abused and becomes a blank canvas of melodramatic allegory.
To be creative I have to go to a cold, dark place where winter’s grasp holds me tight while I search for that one blooming, blood red rose peaking through gardens buried in snow.
Sure. It can be. Hell somebody should really market the notion that “Winter Is Coming.” I bet that could end up on a t-shirt and be enough to fuel a book or TV series!
But the darkness can be a depressing rehash of existence when it insists upon itself.
Oooh… I’m dark… I’m edgy…. I’m a tortured writer who toils over his works in isolation. My calling is the nighttime when my mind can get lost in bleak, looming shadows that reflect the turmoil of the human condition. I enter the black nothingness of my surroundings one fleeting step at a time dodging the darkness of my inner most secrets; desperate to escape, with no way out.
Sound familiar? Know that guy or gal? Give them hug and a cola. Tell them everything’s going to be okay.
And if they refuse that sentiment the next time they enter tortured writer mode turn up the heat, exchange their black lights with blinking Christmas lights and replace their dramatic movie score music with Raffi tunes. I recommend Bananaphone. Just remember earplugs otherwise that damn song will be stuck in your head for days too.
When we focus too much on the darkness it becomes a trap. It’s a downward spiral of inner thought that becomes harder to break out of the longer we’re there. That’s not to say it’s wrong to go there from time to time. But that doesn’t mean you have to be the Dark Knight of prose, either.
So if you’re wearing a Batman costume while writing about the jet-black coats of screeching winged creatures fluttering amidst the darkness neglected by the light of the stars in the night sky remember, there’s a day time.
Sometimes people need sunshine and bunny rabbits too.
And if you’re one of those few writers who leaves their fortress of solitude for societal reentry once in a while you’ll know our audience’s state of mind is desperate for the latter.
When you see the daily headlines, Facebook feeds and viral videos of violence, hate and bigotry it’s as if everybody in the world has entered tortured writer mode with no way out. Many refuse to snap out of it and there aren’t enough Christmas lights, Raffi tunes or earplugs to go around.
Yes Game of Thrones fans winter is most definitely here. The difference is our winter is real. And we’re all watching it documented on the news instead of acted out on HBO.
As writers if we do our job and stay connected to society than we should know that writing about…
the growing darkness of shadows from the steely, cold hands of evil stretching out over fearful lands
…isn’t going to do any good. Society’s already there and has been for so long that it’s fueled a daily dose of hate, negativity, pessimism, sadness and disappointment.
Instead, perhaps we need to exercise our minds to share stories and ideas of how to get out of the darkness so that love, positivity, optimism, happiness and fulfillment can wake us up. And that’s not to say the darkness won’t creep in and out once in a while. But so can the light. Shouldn’t it all cancel each other out to equal a balance in life?
So if good writing represents real life, than you need both. It’s not all dark. It’s not all light. But when it’s always dark, look for the light.
It’s not going to be easy to find but that doesn’t mean you stop looking. It’s there. It has to be. It’s a part of life too.