Thoughts Re: “The Power of Dark Stories, and Why We Are Not Always What We Write”

Jan 20, 2015   //   by Christina   //   Thoughts  //  No Comments

Sometimes people who know me are surprised by what I write. My writing can tend to the very melancholy. I like to write from both the viewpoints of male and female characters, many of them not the best paragons of virtue. I have characters who cuss with every breath. I’m still to shy to write truly shocking material, but I’ve written about serial killers and monsters and lots of death. I’ve written about middle-aged mothers, felons, robots, orphans, and emperors. I like exploring the idea of untraditional love and hate, and the fine line in-between.

I’m a straight human female. I’m Asian, in my late twenties, and quite short. My family life growing up was quite wonderful and exceedingly normal (as normal as any family can be, I suppose). In fact, the members of my immediate family are all still alive and kicking (thank God!). I rarely cuss (though my husband says my habit has gotten worse over the years…I’m chalking it up to character leak). I’ve never killed anyone, nor particularly wanted to. In fact, I don’t even particularly hate anyone at the moment. Nor am I suicidal.

One piece of advice to many new writers is to “Write what you know". Uh, no, thank you. Why should I limit myself to my own person, when there are so many interesting people out there to create? Why should I limit myself to this place and this time, when all of space-time is out there for the taking, and all the parallel universes besides? My stories often come out of interesting questions or characters that pop up in my head, or sentences I read that push me along new lines of thought. They are my way of exploring the breadth and depth of humanity, of understanding the universal questions that motivate us.

It doesn’t mean I’m exactly like my characters. Or that the agendas they pursue are the same as my mine. They are created for the purposes of the story. And I love each of them dearly because I created them. I thought of their names and gave them their traits, their strengths and weaknesses, their loves and fears and dreams and insecurities. And, sometimes, they reflect part of me. But they are not me.

I guess this is just a long rambling way of discussing some of the controversies I’ve heard about recently, regarding people who can’t seem to separate the author from their work. While I do agree that the author can’t help but insert many of their own beliefs and thoughts into their stories (our stories do come out of our minds, after all), I feel that not agreeing with the author as a person shouldn’t negate (completely…) the quality of their work. Or that not agreeing with a character’s beliefs should negate our feelings towards an author.

And maybe this is an indirect confession. Because I’ve written a few things that I’ve been afraid to let those close to me read for fear of how it would change their perceptions of me. It looks silly written here in black-and-white. But there it is.

Anyways, these thoughts were prompted by this amazing discussion: The Power of Dark Stories, and Why We Are Not Always What We Write. I highly recommend you check it out.

Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: