A couple of years ago someone told me my writing was too dark.
I hear their accusatory voice anytime I sit down to do a little tap-tap-tap on the keyboard.
Then, I inevitably plunge further into the narrative.
My words will only deter people. Who would purposefully set out to read about sadness, grief, or hard times when simply waking up brings news of catastrophes sweeping the globe? Why does anyone need more reminders that life is filled with confusing emotions, destructive thoughts, nagging addictions, and relationship problems?
From the moment my writing received the label “too dark”, I took an unspoken vow: I promised myself to keep things light, a bit more fluffy than frayed, to suppress the jagged edges and showcase the joyful experiences instead.
I made certain my sentences floated along the surface, soft and pleasant. I noticed how I babied my readers and bandaged up my wounds, blotted the tears, and covered up any blood for fear someone might see me in such a state and declare me unfit to share my art.
My words became a diluted version of what I really wanted to write, more watery than flavorful, void of my personality and style.
I sent the too-dark parts to detention, to a desk in the back row. I kept a close eye on them and told them to stay quiet.
Meanwhile, I maintained the persona of a cheerleader, with easy spunk and smiles, determined to see the rays of sunshine, focused on beautiful appearances, and leaving sweet aromas in my wake.
But without the thick black and blue threads of inexplicable grief being permitted to weave themselves throughout the page, was it worth it?
I couldn’t move. Silence and shame backed me into the corner. My writing sputtered and spewed smoke.
Foggy gray clouds, the ache of belonging, formless pain, failed attempts at recovery… these are the humble vehicles I use to travel toward my wholeness with confidence.
The explorer in me feels giddy when faced with life’s growing uncertainties and only a flickering flashlight to steady me through the treacherous trails.
I’ve learned to toss the confetti when I’m bitter and bent out of shape, letting the colorful flakes fall down around me, a reminder to receive the full rainbow of this human experience.
I want the stories I share and the revelations I parse to feel like a long-awaited invitation to the celebration of our interconnectedness through the too-darkness of it all.
I refuse to push out a peppy positivity from my pink lips, polishing reality to an eye-catching sheen. Instead, I’ll step into the flow of my creativity with arms spread wide in surrender to what really is.
We are the rugged and rebellious adventurers who’d rather feel our way around, getting lost under the glow of the stars, than be hypnotized by the flimsy luxuries of the American Dream.
If my writing is too dark well then, it must mean I’m on the brightest path, and I’ve released the need to be anyone other than my fullest self.
Could this be how we light up the world as we all wander through this barren and beautiful tundra?