Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Why I LIke the Dark

I was talking with someone recently. A colleague. A sunny sort of woman dressed in draping sparkly things. She's kind and intelligent and I like her quite a bit, but you wouldn't have to look further than our wardrobes to see that we don't have much in common. 

We were talking about books, as us reading-folk are likely to do. I'm a pretty eclectic reader, and I'll give almost any kind of book a shot, but Sparkle and I couldn't find a single title in common in our recently reads or TBR lists. 

You see, I like the dark. 

In real life, I try to stay in the sun, in the sense that I'm looking for the up-side, the silver lining, the half-full glass. 

But when I read, watch television or movies, write, draw, play video games, or even listen to music, I skew dark. I'm drawn to pessimistic characters, wounded birds with vengeful hearts. I'm not really interested in the happy, glossy stuff and I distrust completely happy endings. They feel false to me. 

Maybe it's like Papa Tolstoy said:

Maybe in spite of my can-do attitude and belief that hard work can get you out of almost anything, my deepest darkest heart takes, well, a darker view. Am I a cynic at the core? 

I'm not sure. I mean, I am a skeptic. But like Mulder, I want to believe. I don't think it's just morbid fascination. It's not that I like pain and suffering, even on the page. It's more like I value the coming out on the other side. The hard won truths. If it comes too easily, I doubt the value. 

I'd like to think it comes from personal high standards. I'm the type of person who pushes herself--looking for the crucible that transforms me into the best version of me. I want to be challenged, to prove myself. 

And I'm looking for stories that do that, too: test the limits of the heart, the body, the mind. Confrontation reveals the best of us (and sometimes the worst). The dark night of the soul of the hero's journey. 

Maybe that's it. I explore the darkness, the better to live in the light. 


  1. Maybe you find the dark stories exciting and you know how life can be pretty boring and mundane so it's a safe way to do something scary.

    1. Very true. Reminds me of something I read recently about the way kids need a safe way to take risks. Maybe it's true for sort-of grown-ups like me, too.

  2. I love a good happy ending. I guess dealing with the dregs of society at the Day Job, I need to know there is a happy ever after for someone, even if they're fictional.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm all for putting my characters through hell before they get there, but it's nice knowing there's a light at the end of the tunnel. While the darkness of the Day Job leaks into my stories, it makes the HEA at the end a much more powerful reward. They earned it.

  3. I love dark stories but I want a resolved ending. It doesn't have to be happy necessarily but there has to be some resolution. I hate cliff-hangers and refuse to buy the next book in that kind of a series.