In real life, I’m a happy person. Those crow’s feet starting to crop up around my eyes are from smiling. I like to throw Step Brothers into the DVD player every once in a while and laugh until—well, I don’t want to be gross, but let’s just say I laugh a lot from those crazy guys. Baking a coconut cake makes me positively giddy. I’m surrounded by people I love who make me happy. Life is good.
Yet if you take a look at what I write about, well, it’s not all rainbows and butterflies. Quite honestly, it can be some messed up stuff—psychotic delusions, abuse, Alzheimer’s, crazy ladies. Why would such a happy person write about such unhappy things? Good question. Coincidentally, I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. Here’s what I’ve come up with:
I fancy myself as a modern-day Bruce Wayne. For those of you unfamiliar with the gentleman, he is the secret identity of The Batman. By day, Bruce Wayne is a superficial playboy who lives off his family’s fortune and drinks a lot. (Um, so maybe I’m not a playboy. Who lives off his family’s fortune. Who drinks heavily. But stay with me here.) By night, Wayne turns himself into Batman, a disguise he uses to strike terror into the hearts of criminals. He chooses a bat because he wants to be “a creature of the night, black, terrible.”
So basically Bruce Wayne is a good guy who taps into his dark side to fight the good fight.
How did I make the leap from Bruce Wayne to me? Well, I’m (I hope) a good, happy person who taps into my dark side to make up stories.
Everyone has a dark side, no matter how upbeat or happy or fulfilled they are. I have an author friend who is perfectly fun and cheerful and sociable, yet she’s admitted to thinking things like, “What if everyone in this park we’re sitting in suddenly contracted ebola?” Yeah, you know you’ve thought it too.
And heck, tapping into your dark side is just plain fun. How many times in real life do you get to trap a man into marriage? Or blackmail somebody? Of course most normal people don’t do these things, but it’s fun to imagine what would happen if you did. Right? Or maybe it’s just me.
Anyhoo, every once in a while try to dig deep into the darkest recesses of your mind. There might be a great story hiding in there.