My literary agent once said to me… “Vicki, you are not a daisy. Stop trying to be one.” She said: “You are an orchid. You go deep. That is your superpower.”
So okay, I will never be a daisy.
But when your way of writing depends on plumbing vulnerable depths it can raise the question of what happens when those depths become uncomfortable. What happens when a story takes you to places so dark you can’t see your way out of it? Or when your darkness spills onto the page in a way that feels sad or scary or hard to look at.
What happens when a story takes you to places you’re not fully ready to go to?
The story I’m working on right now is one of those - where the darkness and depth seems so never-ending that I’m wondering how I'll get to the other side.
However, I’ve also experienced in that discomfort moments of true connection. I've found inspiration is often in those spaces past my point of comfort. Those moments can - if we let them - be places where magic happens. Provided we can move past the mental resistance. And by we, I mean me.
If I’m going to be honest, those moments are hard. For one thing, it requires looking at myself and owning the darkness that’s a part of me. The City of Night is my own personal shadow world.
Is it synchronicity or coincidence that the book I’m writing right now is about a community of people who don’t want to face their darkness?
They would rather get rid of it by throwing it onto other people. They’ve discovered a technology that helps them do just that. And at first glance I can kind of sympathise with that. On the surface of it, I think any of us would be tempted to do the same. Who wouldn’t want a technology that could help you get rid of an unwanted and yucky feeling or an anxiety you can't shake.
Except that when I delve into that world, it is not a utopia I find but something very different. The shadow, avoided, will come back to haunt you. But also, the shadow, removed, takes with it much that is expressive, raw, juicy, exotic, erotic, compelling and creative.
To write about this woman then who is sent to confront the darkness, I am having to confront my own darkness. But then of course I do. It's storytelling from the inside out. And I'm not a daisy.
All of my own demons are waiting for me down there in the City of Night. Maybe somewhere among them is also my salvation.