Embracing My Dark Side

I’ve been writing weird stuff lately. By weird, I mean dark. And I’m not entirely sure why.

School has only been in session for a week, and I have already had to do a couple of writing assignments. I’m really excited about that, because over the summer, I worked forty hour-weeks, so not a lot of writing got done. It’s been great to jump back into creative work, but I’m not sure I’m entirely comfortable turning in what I have written, since I don’t want my professors to think I’ve gone crazy.

The first assignment I got was a half-page fictional text. Cool. Flash fiction. Love it. Except that I struggle with it. I find it especially hard to squeeze a plot, solid characters with clear voices, and a wonderfully constructed setting into a half a page. If you can do it, major kudos to you cuz that’s awesome. I remember trying to write a half-page plot piece last semester and it did not go well; it turned into more of a character study than anything else. So, I decided, hey, fiction is fiction, and went with the character study idea.

Now, I am incredibly inspired by spoken word poetry, and my roommate showed me the piece “People You May Know,” (super chilling; look it up!) by Kevin Kantor. I was already thinking about writing on a rape victim, and Kevin’s poem was a huge inspiration. Rape is a heavy subject, and I’m still not sure that this is what I want to turn in for the first assignment in this class. But, I’m actually happy with it, and I hope that it is impactful.

For a different class, I had to write another flash fiction piece, but this particular professor defined flash fiction as between two to three pages. Definitely easier for me. The professor had given us images to draw inspiration from, and the one I selected was of people at a garden party. I thought that this image would be the perfect jumping-off point for a more lighthearted piece—aka one that could balance out the dark one I’d written the day before.

No such luck. In the image, there’s a guy who appears to be creeping in the background of the party, like he’s either a wallflower or a weird people-watcher. There was also a child in the picture, so I decided that the guy was obsessed with his neighbors’ child. After hearing this idea deemed creepy by more than a couple of friends, I wasn’t sure I wanted to stick with it. But, I did. And luckily, my professor told us that she prefers pieces that aren’t all sunshine and rainbows and fluffy bunnies anyway.

So, as weird as it’s been, the creepiness just works out for me. It’s easier somehow. Even though I’m not entirely comfortable with the work I produced this week, I still like it. Is it okay that my own work scares me? Maybe this will take my writing to the next level. Maybe I just have to embrace it. So, here’s to creepy characters and dark plot lines. It’s going to be a good year for my writing.

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