I want my stories to reveal a human experience, an emotional truth, and to make my readers/viewers laugh and find lightness in it. I want to take people down to dark depths, to the bottom of the well, and pull them back to the light where they can feel warm and safe again. I want to connect with people through my writing and put a tiny dent in loneliness and boredom.
So does this mean I have to muck around in my own deepest traumatic well to make it happen? When I sit down to write, should I go straight to the dang pain and emotional pits and poke around down there? Is self-torture writing the best writing? It sounds like miserable navel gazing, and I don't often do it. Writing is hard for me in the same way that climbing a rock wall is hard. There's sweating, straining, confusion, and pain along the way, but I feel good having gone through it and made it over the wall. Sometimes solving the way up can be playful, and I think if I want a shot at connecting with any audience, I have to play. I have to write about things that excite me and loosen me up and find confidence to roam. I have faith that this writing experience is what translates to an audience. I don't know if I'm moving any closer to the goals in paragraph 1, but I hope that whatever I have to offer in terms of the human experience seeps into my characters and story from my unconscious. I don't like to force it. It might not be happening, and I might have to do more navel gazing if I want it to happen.
I just read James Baldwin's novel Another Country and that book stares the deepest emotional trauma and oppression in the face. It answers every question you didn't want to ask. It's one of the most moving and impactful stories I've ever read, and it came from a man who referred to his writing room as his "torture chamber." He went there. But then I look at a writer like Kurt Vonnegut, whose books feel like playgrounds that move you through darkness with some amount of joy, and I think there is more than one way to skin a cat. I suppose finding the way is part of discovering my voice. I am thinking often about how to pull from my well.