I was in a StoryDam chat this past Thursday on Twitter. I shared a little bit on how I was struggling to write a story. I told my fellow writers I was losing interest in the story because I was neither thrilled with the plot nor the character. And this is where things got interesting.Julie Reeser, a writing friend on Twitter, asked me if there was a way to spice things up. If there was a curve ball I could throw at my character. I went back and forth with her about the issues with creating memorable characters, and ultimately, my stories. And ultimately, with me. In the midst of the banter, another writing friend, Patricia Lynne, responded with:
“Embrace your inner evil author.”
At that point, everyone had an opinion on the matter. This was something I’ve never heard said to me. And it was something, to me, out of left field. But it shouldn’t have been.
When I took up writing again a few years back, I made a resolution to write stories that had an edge. To create characters with a dark side. In layman’s terms, I want to go down the proverbial “rabbit hole.”
I want to see what kind of chaos I can create. I want to see what depravities lurk in my head. And I believe by doing so, I will be that mature writer I aim to be. But I foresee a few problems. For starters, a lot of people know me and in turn, know what I write. To write something completely out of character might rile up some people. And that’s something I find hard to stomach. I’m a people-pleaser, and not a good one. Still, I seek approval from a lot of family and friends. But in order to be that writer, I have to be okay that not everyone will understand or like what I write. And that’s okay.
The second problem is that I’m afraid of what I’ll discover about myself. There are already things about me I don’t like. I can only imagine the twisted thoughts swirling in my head. But then, there’s a quote from Natalie Goldberg that comes to mind:
“Write what disturbs you, what you fear, what you have not been willing to speak about.”
Very sage words of advice. To truly be a free writer, I have to embrace everything good and bad about me, the evil as well as the good. Write what scares me to the core in addition to what gives me the most joy. This is what the best writers do. This is how they create memorable characters. This is how their stories stand the test of time.
No one is inherently good or evil, but we have the capacity for both. I think that’s what makes writers so fascinating. The ability to venture into the dark places to create something that has the capability of sticking with you. That is what I want for my writing. To do so means embracing my fears and not letting anyone hold me back. I believe that will be a great step to becoming a better writer.
So, how about you? Have you ventured down the rabbit hole in your writing journey? You don’t have to share, but I would like your opinion on the subject in the comments.
Until then, watch that first step.