Evil people suck

I have this short story that I wrote.  And I hate it.

It was painful to write (which was its purpose, to stretch my boundaries) and it’s awful to edit.  So I don’t look at it often.

But someday I might publish it.


I know it’s crazy, but I have this idea that someone is going to read it and then go commit the horrible acts outlined in the story, which (thanks to my southern nicey-nice upbringing) would fill me with so much guilt, I’m not sure I could stand it.

But maybe the problem is that the violence of the story is self-contained.  There is no resolution.  There is no revenge.  The reader is left hanging, dripping with sweaty vehemence, forced to recover on their own.

I came to this epiphany today while reading an interview with Kristin Cashore about the release of her novel Bitterblue.  One of the characters in the book is truly evil.  And she discusses the difficulty of writing about him:

Writing the pain of the people he’d hurt was painful for me, and writing the scenes in which he has a presence was horrible. I would finish my work and feel haunted and dirty for the rest of the day. A scene that took you five minutes to read may have taken me a week or more to write. Sometimes I felt trapped with him!

But she wrote through it, because the evil served a purpose in the story.  There can be no joy in the defeat of evil if there is no villain to vanquish.

I also enjoyed Cashore’s honesty about doubt, a little villain we all face as writers.

I didn’t really feel the joy until it was done—there were few joyous moments while I was writing, I was too worried about what a big pile of crap it was—but finishing it was enormously satisfying. Nothing feels better than looking at something you’ve written and feeling like you did what you were hoping to do.

Perhaps someday I can overcome both guilt and pain and finish what my short story started.

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