Sometimes I fear to write, even in fictional form, about things that really happened to me, about things I really did, or about the numerous unattractive, cruel, or embarassing thoughts that I have at one time or another entertained. Just as often, I find myself writing about disturbing or socially questionable acts and states of mind that have no real basis in my life at all, but which, I am afraid, people will quite naturally attribute to me when they read what I have written. Even if I assume that readers will be charitable enough to absolve me from personally having done or thought such things--itself a dubious assumption, given my own reprehensible tendency as a reader to see authobiography in the purest of fictions--the mere fact that I could even imagine someone's having done or thought them, whispers my fear, is damning in itself.
The skeletal fingers of a hundred literary transgressions I've already made climbed up my spine upon reading this. I've published some damned disturbing stories full of damned disturbing people. I try not to think about the stories after they leave me (although I'll admit to self-Googling for reviews as much as the next Digital Age writer). I try to imagine them running in fields of alfalfa, chasing rabbits, free to be what they are. Free of authorship. Free of my life's baggage. I've never been a drug addict, a murderer, a woman in a coma, a male nurse in love with a woman in a coma, a rapist, a thug, a gay teenaged boy consumed by thoughts of vengeance, a centuries-old hag with a taste for flesh. I've never been any of those things, but I can imagine being those things well enough to write about them. I'm the perfect audience for a quiet horror film where the mayhem takes place offscreen, because I can supply the mayhem myself more effectively than a special effects team ever could.
There's a pocket of darkness in me from which dark things spring, but I try not to think about the stories once they leave home. I try not to worry that my parents might think I'm psychopath. I try not to worry that my loved ones might think I'm capable of infidelity, substance abuse, suicide. I try to remember that other people have this kind of intuitive understanding of darker human nature--criminal profilers, psychologists, palm readers. Just because you can *see* doesn't mean you can (or would) *do* the things you see.
I write nightmares, but what I write both is and isn't me. If I think about the stories after they leave home, I worry about them. I fear the exposure. What will they think of me (sick freak, you wouldn't believe, how could she, I wonder if that really happened...) but the worry isn't enough for me to keep the damning stories in a shoebox under the bed.
It's better to let them run free, chasing rabbits. Safer for all of us. Really.