And can writers write light when they’re in darkness?
Okay, let me stop writing in riddles and try to make some sense here.
Let me tackle the first question, which is the title of this blog. What I’m asking is, do readers like to read stories that are emotionally or psychologically heavy? I’m not talking about the sorrow of a broken heart. I mean, just about every romance has that element. I’m talking about uncomfortable emotional distress that comes from topics like abuse, domestic violence, depression and other mental illnesses, etc.
There are so many demons that lurk in the dark recesses of the mind, and not everyone is comfortable reading about them. But are there enough people who do? Is it worth a writer’s time and effort to write a story that’s dark? From all the horror movies out there, the answer would seem to be a resounding “yes.” However, based on the books that sell—in lesfic, anyway—the answer might be “no.”
That brings me to the second question. If a writer is in a dark place, for whatever reasons, can she write light? Can someone who is so deeply depressed, so weighed down with the concerns of her life, write a fluffy romance, or light-hearted romp through a general story line? Writers have a reputation for being a moody lot in the first place. So many iconic writers struggled with the demons in their minds and they churned out some pretty hefty material: Sylvia Plath, Emily Dickinson, Anne Rice, Tennessee Williams…the list goes on.
On the other hand, look at J.K. Rowling. She struggled with clinical depression but managed to turn her demons into…well, demons. Or other such magical being. While the Harry Potter series is not necessary lighthearted, its presentation and messages are decidedly different than stories in which the characters go mad and do unjustified harm to themselves or others, or simply limp away wounded, never to be healed.
I’m sure if I asked a bunch of writers this question, I would get different answers. I guess it all depends on how people handle their darkness. Maybe writing something light distracts one writer, giving her mind a break from the things that are plaguing her, while another writer probably can’t even think about light things, let alone write about them.
I don’t know, maybe you have to sit a while with your feet hanging over the precipice before you stand, dust yourself off, and turn back toward solid ground.