Writing from the Dark Side

I stood face to face with my dark side last night. I felt a sense of panic, as I always do when facing that mirror, clutching my hair and chanting “this is not me”.

My dark side deals in visions of obsessive seduction, sticky strands of need and betrayal in silent midnight rooms bled of color. It revels in its story: my inevitable fall, my contemplation of suicide. 

All of us have a dark side which stands counter to who we believe we are. If we deny it, if we romanticize it, we may fall to it because it demands that we pay attention to it. What we need to do is to accept our dark side because it’s part of us. 

I accept my dark side, the sulky drama queen in the mirror, but I do not let it run my life. I have built a satisfying life in the golden light of autumn, with a humorous husband and five cats. 

Me, coffee, and cat. This is a good life.

Sometimes I write from my dark side — half-elven children who want to kill their elven fathers, succubi with a pang of conscience, a young man who can kill by touch. I write these with my light side, though, framing these characters in dilemma, in conflict. 

Darkness must contrast with light to be appreciated. If the writing contains nothing but darkness, it ceases to be dark and is merely mechanical, a factory of death and gore. The light must be there to be taken away, so that we grieve for the individual trapped in their circumstances. 

I look at my dark reflection, the person I most fear, because she has the capacity to ruin my life. I nod, knowing that if I try to annihilate her, I become her. She leans over my shoulder as I write, helping me to add her darkness to my bright words.


This poem is about the dark side of me I don’t indulge:

I would enthrall you with words
That fade into thickets green,
Tangle you in grasping vines.
Tease you with hints of heat
then saunter away.