Up until recently the only prose I’ve ever really written and shared was intended for younger audiences. A couple of years ago, a handful of my works in progress started to take a darker turn and I was afraid to follow my characters into the proverbial forest. I was frightened by what my imagination was capable of. This was the same reason I have avoided horror films and books for most of my life…my imagination made them much scarier once I was at home, alone, in the dark.
Knowing this, one of my best friends sent me an incredible article from Poet’s and Writer’s about earning your violence in art. It gave me a new perspective but I was still too frightened to try. Last summer I devoured Gillian Flynn books. I couldn’t get enough. They were brilliant, dark and violent. I love the Hunger Games series which is also very violent. The violence was not gratuitous. It helped move the story forward and as hard as it was to read, it belonged on the page. I started to understand what the article was really saying, but was I ready to go to that place?
The answer was no, since it has been another year of procrastination. However, I have recently been inundated with a dozen of new short story ideas that feature darker and more subversive subject matter. I’m still a little hesitant, but the stories are winning out. I am more interested these days in the dynamics of family, sexual identity and the vast spectrum of good vs. bad in characters and human beings in general. I am also writing again. I wrote three scenes for a short story I have been revising for a couple of years and I wrote 500 words for a new short today.
I’m learning in my personal and creative life to be more brave. The imagined outcome is riddled with anxiety, fear and doubt yet, if I get out of my own way and try…it’s typically not bad at all.
I know I will come to a scene that will push my limits again, but I’m encouraged that now I won’t be afraid to follow those characters where they lead me, no matter how dark or dire. I’m excited to grow in this way.