As a writer you are bound to run into what I’ll call The Dark Stuff, and you can either embrace it or avoid it at all costs. Neither is the write answer, neither is the wrong answer, it’s a matter of taste and feel and where you’re willing to go. For me, I usually tend to be drawn to The Dark Stuff more often than not, but that’s as much a matter of style as it is taste.
Now, The Dark Stuff is anything that goes into the great big closet we each have and each tend to avoid as much as we are able. The Dark Stuff are all the nasty themes that are floating out there and waiting to be tapped. One person sees an old man walking on across street and sees maybe a widower out for a stroll. Another person sees the same old man crossing the same street and sees him secretly following a young child. Now, both are still open ended ideas but you an guess where the second story is going, and it’s no where nice. That’s what The Dark Stuff is. It’s any story that walks more in the dark than in the light.
In life I think it’s safe to say that most of us prefer to walk in the light because there’s more than enough shady spots walking out in the open that we don’t really need to seek out the more dangerous places. When it comes to the arts and writing though, the dark has a strong hold on us. It’s that we can control it in those forms, can examine behind glass in a way, that draws us near. It’s impossible to deny the dark, that people abuse one another, they kill one another, and that any number of horrible things can and will happen in ours and other people’s lives. In peering into The Dark Stuff we all hope to have a better understanding of it, hoping we can, if not control it in our own lives, find ways to survive it, avoid it, or just learn to better cope with it.
It’s interesting because fiction, especially long fiction, can take you so much time to get through that if it’s a dark piece then The Dark Stuff from the book really begins to you the reader. It’s never fun to face the horrible things in life, even in fiction, but we have to, we must if ever we’re going to learn to overcome the great many fears we all live under. The only way to live your life is with your arms thrown wide, otherwise the fear keeps us from so many things that make life so meaningful.
For me, The Dark Stuff is where so many secrets lie, and where many of the greatest stories are. And the heck of it is that sometimes we all don’t make it home, or make it home unchanged. There are lessons to learn in the darkness, lessons that we may not want to learn but which we need to learn. Coping with loss, finding strength in the struggle, and learning to survive are just a few of those things. Unless we’re willing to look for the light, or to create our own, in the dark, we never will feel comfortable. We may never feel safe, because complete safety can never be guaranteed, but you can feel comfortable, and that’s the key.
The Dark Stuff isn’t always going to make us feel good, but it’s’ that these tales make us feel that makes them so powerful, because that’s when we are fully experiencing the story, and the world. Me, I always am drawn to the dark because when you can survive it, when the characters survive it, they emerge richer, wiser, better people, and ready for whatever comes next.
And honestly, sometimes you just like to see the hero get eaten alive once in a while.