My second work-in-progress deals with a dark subject matter. It’s based on a true story that involves a violent crime and how a person’s life has led them to commit this crime.
When I first started writing this book, I began having nightmares. My internet research also led me to interact with people I wish didn’t actually exist. I’ve tried to stop working on this book, but something keeps drawing me back to it.
I write to understand people. Whenever someone intrigues me, for better or for worse, I tend to write about them. If my work is worth anything, I hope that it provides insight into characters that might not seem sympathetic at first—I hope that it encourages people to accept each other for who they are.
But should some things remain unwritten?
I’ve asked myself that a lot lately. Even though I’m approaching the subject from a sympathetic perspective, I wonder if the world would be a better place if I simply left it alone.
Of course, I’m not the first person to approach a subject like this. Many great works deal with the dark matter. Crime and Punishment and Macbeth are just a couple of examples. No Country For Old Men by Cormac McCarthy is the latest book I’ve read dealing with something like this. For me, what makes this book palatable is the fact that I can distance myself from it when I need to. I can look out at the world and see that things aren’t as bad as all that. This book works because it reminds me to be grateful for reality. Maybe that’s what makes the journey into the darkness worthwhile. Maybe dark matters serve to remind us of the light.
The fact is, I couldn’t stop working on this story even if I wanted to. But this experience has led me to think more deeply about what I send out into the world. Whether I’m writing a light-hearted piece or something more serious, I ask myself if the book I’m writing is worth more than the paper it’s printed on.