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Down the Dark Path Fantasy, Dark Art, and Sci Fi by J Edward Neill

How to write Dark Fiction (and shave decades off your life.)

July 23, 2015 / by grimwain

Skull-Party

 Look at these guys. They’re dead, but still having a grand time of it.

  Assholes…

Ok. Look. This isn’t really a how-to article. I’m in no position to tell anyone how to do anything short of throwing footballs, kicking things, and losing at video games. I’m writing this week to take myself down a notch, put a lid on the can, and cork up my fountain of sunshine.

 I write better when I’m in a terrible mood.

There. I said it. I’m sure I’m not the only one. What is it about creative people that allows them to make masterpieces out of misery? I’m not saying I’m capable of creating a masterpiece, but you get my point. Why are the best novels full to the brim with tragedy, suffering, and death? Why are history’s finest artists at best obsessive, at worst sociopathic? Why is human misery so appealing? Go click on a news site. Go google murder, kidnapping, terrorism, war, or Bieber. It’s a never-ending worldwide horror story. Why, why, why?

I don’t know the answers. That’s why I’m asking you.

A few years ago, while riding a half-year span of dumb-stupid-happy after publishing this and this, my writing crashed and burned. I couldn’t even spit out a page a week, to say nothing of my current pace of five pages per night. I was just too damn pleased with life to concentrate on dragging my readers through the abyss. It was awesome, but it sucked. I mean; if darkness renders us blind, intense sunshine does the same, right? Try seeing through your car window while driving directly at the sun. Can’t see a damn thing no matter how you adjust the visor. You think you’re on the road, and meanwhile you’re about to run over a line of kids on their way to the school bus. All the sun’s fault. Maybe vampires are on to something.

Being happy is overrated.

So tonight I’m sitting beside a dark-shaded lamp, surrounded by silence, floating on a cloud of gloom and doom. I’m pissed off. I’m bored. My morbid sensibilities smolder inside me. It’s perfect. It really is. After I finish this blog, I’m betting on 2,500 words and a satisfying night’s sleep. Here’s the proof: right beside my ugly old recliner, my Buddha statue smiles at me. ‘How much did you write tonight?’ I ask him. ‘Nuthin’,’ he says. ‘I’m more of an eater these days.’ And over there on the wall, the knights on their murals look peaceful in their repose. ‘You guys ever paint anything?’ I ask. They’re so damn happy they don’t even bother to answer. See what I mean? Artists do their best work when they feel shitty. They need passion, fury, wrath, and darkness. To cast a shadow, they need light, and something big to block most of it out.

They say all good things must come to an end. Whew. Thank goodness for that. If, after publishing my first few books, I’d have stayed on my bus to happyland, I might’ve given up writing altogether, and that would’ve been a different type of low. I mean…I suppose it’s possible I’m wrong about this whole sad-makes-awesome thing. Maybe Fred Rogers and Barney the F’ing Dinosaur really are on to something, but I doubt it. How does one make beautiful, tormented art without crawling through the lowest sewer of one’s imagination? The answer: you don’t. Sometimes, to create you must first destroy.

What’s it all mean? Well…maybe tomorrow I’ll be even gloomier than tonight. Why not? If it helps me finish my latest book and write deathier stories than ever before, I’m game. I’m ok with that. I don’t want to live forever. I want to make something beautiful…and then get the fuck outta this place.

 

For more morbid philosophy, check this.

To scare the shit out of yourself for $0.99, go here.

J Edward Neill

(From my original article published via Tessera Guild – 2014)

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