What is percolating inside some minds. The other day my cousin sent me a bit of “flash fiction” her twenty-something daughter wrote. In her email, my cousin described it this way:
I read numbers of young writers and bloggers – particularly late-teens and twenty-something women – living, insofar as I can tell, relatively safe, comfortable lives, and who also appear obsessed by the macabre, violence, torture, and death. I’m not talking here about just venturing into the scary (like watching a horror movie, such as Halloween) to get the blood going, or looking for some thrills, or even interest in the perils of “action-adventure.” I mean they appear to possess (and otherwise hide?) a shockingly bleak and depressing overall worldview.
My sister – who has for decades had “issues” we have never been able to get fully to the bottom of – had (and still does I suspect) that “obsession” too. I could never get her to explain it coherently. For two decades, whenever it came up between us (when I raised it), she just blew me off condescendingly – much as my cousin’s daughter does there to her mom – that I “just don’t get it.”
But I do get it. I don’t live in a “la-la land”; and I believe most other people out here actually don’t. Having already decided to change its paperback cover slightly – I wanted the magnificent painting of Paris’s pre-Revolution’s Place Louis XV (today, the Place de La Concorde) to be more prominent – and thinking on what I had read of my cousin’s daughter’s “disturbing” writings, I considered my most recent novel. In it, I nod to moments of life that are definitely not lighthearted or pleasant: there is the illness and lingering death of a parent, a guillotining, murder, drownings, and some other definite downers.
However, for those writers I describe here there seem few ups in life worth mentioning – at least not in their writings. To live often seems to be to endure an endless daily chamber of horrors… and then you are condemned to die a painful death. I don’t mean to infer here if you write such fiction you automatically NEED counselling or a psychiatrist; I just never know what to make of “bleakness” as an evidently near-total fixation.
I suppose on one level with blogs and Kindles we now read far more writing from authors – particularly young women – whose thoughts never previously would have been widely circulated. Much of it would have until a generation ago probably been confined to hidden away paper diaries and journals, or stories that were read by only a handful of readers. Today, they are all over the place in public.
Yes, sickness and death are unfortunate life realities we all face at one time or another, and we all ourselves shall die, and perhaps (although it is unlikely) even violently. As you may know, I admit to being something of a pessimist, so I must fight always to see the positive; and fighting that battle is worth it…
…for what helps us to cope with depressing happenings and preparing ourselves mentally for when we do inevitably have to face them is to try to reflect upon and treasure those moments of life that contain the pleasant and the fun:
As writers, yes, we should try to write about those moments too – for our own mental wellbeing as well as for that of readers.
We visited with my wife’s aunt – in her 80s – yesterday at her home in Chesham. Her eyesight is failing, and reading – which she loves – has become very difficult. I showed her my Kindle and she could read the big font; we’re going to set her up with one. She’s relentlessly pleasant (I find it impossible to be in a “bad mood” around her) and said she wants to read about 1780s Chesham in my Conventions. “The locals say ‘Chesum’,” she laughed, “not ‘Chesham’.”
People can and do genuinely care for each other; there is laughter; there are love letters; there is lovemaking; there are children, sunrises, flowers, pets, birds chirping in another day, and, yes, often joy, in our lives. And that is not fiction. And it is worth remembering, and focusing on, that too.
Have a good Sunday, wherever you are in the world. 🙂