Home > Writing, Writing Advice > My Muse is Feeling Evil

My Muse is Feeling Evil


In the past week, I’ve written four short stories. Each one is a little more bizarre than the last. Writing them, even just the act of getting them down on paper, helped me to evolve as a writer.

How? I stopped censoring myself. I wrote a few things that turned my stomach and made me feel squicky. (Yes, squicky is a technical term. I SWEAR. Don’t question me. Pay no attention to the woman behind the coffeepot. Also, stay away from my coffee.)

I didn’t start out to write something that made me uncomfortable. For instance, I started with an idea – retelling a fairytale. (I blame Neil Gaiman’s Snow, Glass, Apples for that.) I also found use for a bit of imagery I’d jotted down in my notebook.

I started writing, and the characters went off the path. Waaaaay off. And I found myself writing a really disturbing scene. But I wrote it.

There was a time where I would’ve thought, “Oh my GOD – my dad might read this!” Or, “People are going to assume I’m twisted.” (I mean, I am. But not like that.)

This time, it was about the story, and about telling it in the manner it needed to be told. Instead of shying away from the difficult bits.

So this particular story made me feel something. The characters were extremely clear. And I think it might be the best thing I’ve ever written. It’s not the easier thing I’ve ever done. But I think that I got it right – that the words on the page work. That makes me very, very happy.

Each of the four stories have gone through my own edits. They’re off to several beta readers for shredding. This is progress. This is a good lesson.

Like Poe did, write what scares you. Write what disturbs you. Write the story as it’s begging to be written, not some user-friendly, whitewashed version of it. Step to the ledge and jump. Let the story write you.

  1. March 14, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    One of the hardest lessons I had to learn about writing was that I shouldn’t try to control the content, only the language (grammar, spelling, etc). My characters have to go where I wouldn’t go and do what I wouldn’t do, because I’m nice to people and cautious in situations and would make a horribly boring character in a novel. Sometimes my characters go toward the scary by themselves, and sometimes I have to give them a push.

    • Ali
      March 15, 2011 at 8:01 am

      Exactly! That’s been my hardest lesson. I was writing a scene the other day, and thinking, “This is SO wrong!” But for the characters and the story? It was so right. It’s difficult, sometimes, to write without having that proverbial parent leaning over your shoulder…but like you said, if only good and nice things were written about, it’d be a boring story. Thank you so much, Gayle, for getting this — and for commenting. I really appreciate it.

  2. March 17, 2011 at 7:24 pm

    Are you publishing it somewhere, Ali? Because I’d love to read it.

    • Ali
      March 18, 2011 at 8:52 am

      I wrote that specific story with a certain market in mind; they’re currently closed to submissions, but as so as they’re open, I’m sending it off to them for consideration. I have five different short stories out for consideration right now, which might be a) the most I’ve ever written in a short time frame and b) the most I’ve had out ever. So, fingers crossed! I’ll keep you posted. 🙂

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