The Narrows

They say that every writer has one story to tell. Just one, repeated from different angles and with an array of characters, the variety of which might be so vast as to disguise this fact even from the writer. And while I don’t subscribe to the “every writer” part of that statement or any other, I think there’s something to it. I do tend to circle around the same issues. There are a lot of violent men in my stories, a lot of crime and romantic dysfunction. That’s the top layer.

However, underneath all the hoodlum behavior and the warped sexuality is this idea of people being unseen, unknowable to one another. I’m fascinated by the odd things people dwell on, the dark impulses, the shyness and inward recoiling. I think we all share a certain craving to be known juxtaposed against the fear of being judged, rejected, reviled. This is what continually pulls me toward stories about sex and violence, sometimes in combination. It’s the depth at which these thoughts reside. These are the taboo subjects, the impulses lying deep within the realms of human imagination.

I’d choose another course for my writing if I could, or steer my current predilection into calmer waters. God knows it’s done me no favors. I become crippled at times by my own squeamishness on seeing what I’ve written, knowing that I’ve repeatedly opened myself to misreading, to the same moral judgments my characters often face. I have tried over and over to write another story, something cooler, friendlier, something I would choose to read, but I can’t seem to get those stories to the finish line. They don’t expand properly in my imagination. They aren’t real for me, and because they don’t exist in my mind, I can’t bring them to life on the page. They belong to another writer, and in my hands they are hopelessly inert.

My heart is not a light one. It’s heavy, hot, and it resents the narrow rib cage into which it was born. To write is to feed the beast that’s eating me alive. To resist is to pretend the cage was empty all along.

Tell me, if you can. What’s your story?

4 responses

  1. Side-comment: As I’ve gotten older, I recoil less and look more carefully and courageously (at life, at people , at myself, at literature, etc) than I did even a few years ago. Thank you for doing what you do exactly the way you do it.

    • That’s a wonderful way to develop as a person. I think what’s happening to me is more a “resistance is futile” sort of thing, but I will always aspire to courage. Thank you for being here.

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