Are emotions material?
Where is the line that separates physical from spiritual?
Can hate kill? Does fear really produce indescribable monsters from the darkest fogs of our imaginations? Can love really form an unconquerable bond that overcomes all?
If unleashed, could pure imagination make or destroy worlds?
Were the deepest, most secret halls and corridors of our minds brought to light and set free — thoughts, feelings, memories, fears and dreads — what would happen? What creations would be made? What messages would be communicated that would have otherwise remained silent?
What unspeakable horrors would be composed from emotion and imagination and thrust into reality?
Or are they already here? Is this even reality? What really is reality? Is it what we see or what we feel? Is there a difference?
Too many questions? Do you really want to know the answers?
Beware your emotions; if this weren’t reality, they could kill you.
Or is this reality?
What if we’re the ghosts?
Light is good; dark is bad. Happiness is good; pain is bad. Love is good; hate is bad. Beauty is good; ugly is bad.
Except when it’s not.
No matter who you are or where you are from, there are always some things that we all come to know as generally known and accepted facts. They are canon — general rules or principles that most everyone abides by. Many people get so used to things being a certain way that they come to take it for granted that that is how they will always stay. They cease to think about them.
In fact, altering them can turn downright terrifying.
One of the most fun and satisfying things to do as a writer is to ask “What if?” Another one is to turn the normal things into the things that make people shiver. What do you do when the places that have always kept you safe turn on you? What happens when the things that used to comfort you turn sinister?
It sounds like it should be difficult, but think about how many of those things that usually make people smile already can cause you chills at times. While a child’s laughter is a wonderful thing, a child’s laughter from the dark doorway of a charred, long-abandoned playroom does little to warm the heart. An innocent thing like a doll or a rocking chair can take on an entirely new and terrible appearance.
Many things can break a person’s spirit, but when you start to take away their safe places — or better yet, turn their safe places against them — it doesn’t take long for true desperation to set in. It can take many forms: the monster that doesn’t stop chasing you when the sun comes up; the demon that hides behind the eyes of an innocent child; death that comes in brightly colored beauty; the kind, grandmotherly deranged killer. So many creative opportunities present themselves when you place a character in a position where the light no longer protects them. What is left to them? Where else is there to turn? Does salvation reside in the dark where they would never have thought to look? Or is there something even worse?
These thoughts make you uncomfortable? To the writers, I say, good; it means you’re already thinking. Make the canon un-canon.
To the rest of you, you’re welcome; you needed a something to shake your mind up today.
Everyone has their opinions about the world. Most people tend to be pretty set in their thoughts. Writers are no different, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Opinions are like faces: everyone has one, no two people’s are the same, and not everyone is going to like yours.
For many writers, the crafting of their work is the only outlet for their outlook on the world, their ideals instinctively being ingrained into the words and actions of their characters.
However, without opposition, there can be no conflict. Without conflict, therein rarely lies any remarkable story. To make a story truly complete, a writer cannot fail to delve into the opinions and beliefs of those that directly oppose his own. It is impossible to show a set of beliefs to be in the right without offering another up for comparison. Someone who is too set in his own ways to hear the thoughts of others is blind. Someone who is too afraid to face an argument that could put his beliefs in doubt or up for debate is a coward and not himself convinced of the things he professes.
I believe that a good writer cannot afford to be either of these things.
Exploring the world from every facet is one of the most important jobs that a writer takes on. It is our job to explore the places that others rarely go and question the things that others take for granted as fact. It is our place to turn reality on its side and ask the hard questions. What if gravity went up? What really makes the bumps in the night? What if the greatest world-held truth turned out to be an elaborate lie?
People may call us crazy, but we will see things that they will never dream of.
Think for a moment why you read.
Now think about the kind of people you read about.
Now think for another moment about why people write about those people.
Life for most people is boring. We read and write to escape into another room of the universe where there are interesting people. But the thing about imaginary people is that they are still just as boring as real ones unless they do interesting things. Yes, average or even weak people can make for interesting stories, but only if they are exposed to extraordinary circumstances. It can sometimes be therapeutic to write about such general day to day life, but no one wants to take the time to read about someone who lives their drab day to day life and never encounters any difficulty to overcome.
The best people to write or read about are the ones who fail, the ones who are beaten down, the ones who fall over and over and over again… and then get back up and do something about it.
The people who are worth our time are the ones who face down the dragon and get stomped on, but survive. They nurse their wounds into scars and then they hunt the dragon down and try again to save the day, even though it could very much mean their end.
Some people accept their dull, boring lives. Some people accept defeat as finality. Some people even fight their whole lives for a success or victory that they never actually wanted.
But some people take the plunge. They open themselves to the opportunity to fail. They fall. But that gives them the chance to get up even stronger, to change things, to make a good story. Those are the people who are worth my time to create.