For the first assignment in my writing class I wrote about an elephant narrowly escaping a poacher’s bullet. The next assignment required that we write about a color from the color’s point of view (kinda trippy, huh?) so I wrote about the color white. I started with the bright white of the delivery room and ended with a marble headstone and bones being returned to the earth. The assignment we were given last Friday asked that we find a newspaper article that interests us then write a non-fiction essay or a fiction story inspired by the article. I found this article and wrote a little story about an incinerator operator that becomes depressed with his job and ends up incinerating himself.
Notice a theme here? I didn’t intend to be the Debbie Downer in the class, but it appears that I am. And, because these people don’t know me personally, they probably assume that I’m the brooding, morose type who forgoes sunlight and hides behind her bangs.
I am capable of writing light-hearted, happy things, but usually my sensibilities lean toward the darker nature of life. Now, I know that I’ve gone into this before here, so this is no surprise. However, I feel that there may be another, subconscious reason why my assignments for my writing class have been rather grim.
I am a child and I am rebelling.
I can’t help it. Whenever I see people being so gosh-darn pleasant and golly-gee happy I just want to slice open a deep vein of darkness and let it bleed all over their super-riffic good time. I know, it’s irrational and adolescent and I should really just let people be. But, there is some fundamental flaw in my wiring that translates any instance of over-abundant niceness into dishonest fakery. I don’t know where it comes from, but it’s just how I am.
All this seems to indicate that I am not enjoying my writing class, but this is not true. I do like the class and I am getting a lot out of it. One thing the class has taught me is that a writer must know her audience. Well, I may not know exactly who my audience is right now, but I definitely know who they are not.
While unpacking a box of books the other day, I came across a few notebooks of poetry and stories that I wrote when I was in middle and high school. It was fun reading through my old words and remembering the days when they were written. However, I realized that if anyone else read some of these things, they might be concerned for my state of mind back then. Oh, of course there were teen angst musings about unrequited love and how no one understood what I was going through – you know, the typical woe is me type stuff. But, there were also bunches of poems about darkness, night, corruption and monsters. I wrote stories about vampires with detailed descriptions of their feasts on the living. One poem was about the devil and how he would come for us all. Many of these writings have never been read by anyone but me. Good thing too, cause they may start hiding their knives whenever I come over. Others probably wouldn’t understand where all my black thoughts were coming from.
I wasn’t a depressed child, really. My default setting then, as now, is happy. Of course, I had my down days, but they weren’t the norm. I had posters of puppies and ponies and my bed linens were covered in flowers. I had a freakin’ rainbow painted on my wall. I did go through a phase where I wore black a lot, but I didn’t go full out goth with black eyeliner and lipstick, too. When I think about it, there wasn’t any real pre-meditation to the black clothing. I just liked it. And, having the stout, farm-girl physique that I do, black still is my friend. I wrote my vampire stories and death poems on my flowered sheets for one simple reason: I have a dark side. I love horror movies, true-crime stories about serial killers and Halloween. In middle school I started reading Stephen King novels and watched Salem’s Lot on TV while I was home alone. In high school I continued to read King, along with Clive Barker, Dean Koontz and Anne Rice. I wrote my senior political science paper on the Charles Manson murders because I was already reading “Helter Skelter” by Vincent Bugliosi for fun. I think I was a vampire for Halloween three years in a row. I developed a morbid, sometimes sick, sense of humor. However, a lot of people who signed my high school yearbook wrote that I was a funny, free-spirit who always made them laugh.
And today, I’m still a happy, fun-loving gal who loves a good scare. I also love watching good comedies and laughing until my sides hurt. I may make a joke about biting a kitten’s head off, but I wouldn’t do it to save my life. I love kittens. I think that embracing my dark, blood-soaked side and my soft, kitten loving side makes me a whole person. I wouldn’t be me without one or the other.