Embrace the darkness
I mean, what the hell, right?
THE INSPIRATION: Definition through opposition
"Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness."
Is it true that we can’t appreciate light without darkness? Sure. I mean… yeah. But I think there’s also inherent value to our darkness, a value that’s not dependent on light to define it. What is toxic positivity if not a darkness brought on by the refusal to embrace darkness?
There’s a reason why we tell dark stories. Because we need to remind ourselves that not every problem can be solved. Maybe every problem shouldn’t be solved. Maybe sometimes we need to sit in the mess to realize that it is a part of us, that we cannot experience ourselves in completeness if we don’t allow ourselves to be unhappy, selfish and lost sometimes.
THE FAT ORANGE CAT: It’s a bad, bad, bad, bad world
Have your most honorable character do something bad.
I mean… bad. Wrong. Unjustifiable. Hurtful.
Don’t cheat. Don’t make it because they were drunk or tricked. Make them choose darkness.
If you can’t do this without breaking that character, then you may want to consider scruffing that character up a bit. If they’re that capital-G Good, then they might not read as terribly human.
The “Get Your Stuff” link will bring you to an item I selected specifically to accompany this post, but you do not have to buy that thing in order to support me. Just keep popping through Amazon and buy the stuff you were going to buy anyway.
THE TROPE: Creepy Doll
Dolls are inherently creepy. You know what you never see little girls clutching in light, frothy stories? Dolls. You know why?
They’re made to look like humans, usually human babies, but they’re not alive. They don’t have animus. They’re just there… staring. And the older they get, the creepier they get. We used to give this monstrosity to children.
Here’s the unfathomable listing I got the picture from where people are being asked to pay for this protective case for evil that should be destroyed in a ritual fire.
Y’all, I’m telling you. I never even watched the Chucky movies, but I had nightmares about that fucking doll for years because of the trailers.
Dolls are a cheap ticket to Creepy Town. Use them at your own risk.
THE QUESTION: What does it say about me?
“Have you ever wondered why you’re drawn to tell or read particular stories? Sometimes I worry that there’s something wrong with me that I like writing scary, dark stories.”
—Thy Name is Darkness
Is there something wrong with you? I mean… odds are. There’s something wrong with most of us. But without those of us brave enough to write about the Things That Are Wrong, many of us would never face that wrongness.
Honestly? The people I’ve personally known who write dark stories are some of the most delightful people I know. Maybe it’s because they work that shit out in their stories, and the fact that they’ve wrestled that darkness instead of just ignoring it by whistling a jaunty tune is what makes them so delightful.
The fact that darkness is there is a given. We all have it. The extent to which we are honest about and face our inner darkness is what varies. You’re dealing with it, and giving it healthy expression through dark, scary stories. Some people don’t do that, and they instead live dark, scary lives.
Your choice seems like the healthier way to go to me. I’d say, as long as you’re not actually hurting anyone in your real life, you’re doing the rest of us a service. Carry on.
THE PRACTICAL: Sharp Cravings
Ian left town last week and I’ve been here by myself and for reasons I cannot even begin to fathom, I spent all of Saturday watching Sharp Objects. Now, if you haven’t seen Sharp Objects, don’t fret; I’m not going to spoil anything, except to say that it’s really good (until, maybe, the very last little bit, I haven’t decided how I feel about it) and I do recommend it.
At the same time… yikes.
Here’s the thing about me. Until very recently, I have avoided the scary dark in my stories. I didn't mind a little darkness, a little edge, but mostly, I liked my stories fluffy and light and whipped up to a froth. I was one of those people who thought that if they could avoid the darkness, the could avoid the darkness.
I have learned in recent years that that’s a foolhardy presumption.
About a year and a half ago, I started doing movie nights with Ian and his best friend Jack and my daughter Sarah. Ian and I are the light and fluffy types; we’re sensitive, precious types who don’t care for horror… which is kind of funny when you consider that we met because we both do Buffy the Vampire Slayer commentary but whatever. Buffy at its darkest is still mostly fantasy and humor.
But anyway, Jack is super into horror, and my daughter Sarah can appreciate a dark tale as well, and I decided that if I was going to be a story expert I needed to engage with all the genres, so when horror movies came up in the rotation—and they often did—I watched.
I hated it… most of the time… but I watched.
And something about watching those movies has made me, from time to time, kinda crave the darker stories, which is opening up a whole world of movies, TV shows, documentaries and podcasts I ordinarily would have avoided. Midnight Mass. The Leftovers. Dirty John. Promising Young Woman. Doctor Sleep.
It’s interesting to see how the things we avoid often contain something we need. Maybe that’s why we avoid them?