Literal dreams don’t mean much to me. I understand the potential value they could have for certain kinds of writers but, stories just don’t bubble up to me that way. Maybe it plays a more or less unacknowledged role in shaping some of the things I’ve written cause there’s no doubt whatsoever that a lot of it just boils up from some deeper part of myself. My sleeping mind.
Harnessing and shaping it into something other people might take an interest in is all about deliberately calling it up from that place. It comes from sitting and letting all that stuff boil out onto the screen or page as best I can. I’ve said before that a lot of the time I can’t tell what I’m actually going to write, sometimes not even with blog posts like this one but especially when it comes to fiction. Even when I have a pretty good idea of where to start on a given day, even if I’ve thought out a lot of different angles, I cannot decide what comes out when I start writing.
The only part I get a truly active say in is in what I keep, how this scene or that character comes across, how events and imaginings are organized and presented. Beyond that it’s more out of my hands than I had thought possible before I started writing stories on a regular basis. It’s kind of a trip ’cause sometimes I go back and reread a piece of flash fiction wondering, “where the fuck did that come from?” It’s almost like someone else wrote it and I get to slap my name on it.
It’s not always as effortless as I’m probably making it sound but discipline and work aside, it’s almost like someone I was at the time (or someone I could have been) wrote it and I’m just the guy that gets to take all the credit. And another funny thing… My feelings and desires are all I really try to listen too, which is to say that by and large I happen to have a nearly nonexistent sense of morality. I see what other peoples morals are, I understand the lines they draw. I just don’t think many of those lines exist; in fact I bet none of them do.
So when it comes to some of the stuff I’ve written I’m sure some people would be horrified at themselves, were they in my position. All this filth, darkness, and violence bubbling out and taking shape in the form of stories. It doesn’t bother me any but I wonder how a more righteous person would feel about finding that’s what comes out when they write. A ‘better’ person. Me, I don’t even factor in the murders or destruction as a thing. One thing that matters more, to give an example, is what they affect, what people become through them.
The Journal of James Barret isn’t so much about the enjoyment he takes in killing people. It’s that he has something that brings him that kind of satisfaction. A lot of people never find that for themselves. The ones that do might get that satisfaction, that sense of fulfillment, from painting or writing. Others might get it through volunteering to help the homeless or feed the hungry. For James it happens to be killing. Even the isolation that comes from that stands out more clearly in my mind than the killing itself. A lot of passions have that effect. Hell, writing it one of them.
The fragments of fiction on James are about him though, about him doing something that makes him feel alive, about his need for something that does that for him, about his feeling apart from everyone else. The killing just happens to be an agent through which these things occur and play out. Some people might get it through dancing or painting, through volunteering or any other number of things but they’re all the same in the sense of doing something that satisfies the soul.
Not everyone has fantasies or desires as savage as a guy like Ted Bundy might have but everyone has fantasies and desires. Everyone has the same hunger inside, the same need for something that makes you feel alive. Yours might not be all that dark or violent but in all other ways they’re not really that different. Some leave theirs unanswered and ignored, suppressed, but… what I’m getting at is, a lot of my fiction might be sordid, violent, sexual, whatever.
I love it though. It’s part of who I am and it speaks to things that go well beyond the narrow scope of subject matter in any given piece of flash fiction or poetry. It might be filth but if that’s what it is then it’s filth I adore. Evidence of a filthy soul? *shrugs* So what. I would, after all, rather be a filthy somebody than a warm and fuzzy nobody. If anyone ever wants to criticize I might just tell them to be glad I don’t get off on hurting people because, honestly, if that’s what I got my jollies from I’d feel just as unapologetic about it.
Anyone who has a problem with that should just be thankful I also happen to be so benign. I’m something of a monster, true, but under most circumstances I would argue I’m mostly harmless. Unless you’re the kind of person to blame video games or explicit music for a school shooting or a suicide. Then… well, then you’re going to have some issues with the kind of stuff I tend to write. But I just don’t really care because I think those issues are bullshit. People are responsible for their own actions. My actions? They’re acts of creation.
What people do with that sort of thing is entirely up to them though. They’re ultimately just words on a screen. I mean I write fiction for fucks sake. Best to keep things in perspective, I’d say.