Dark Night of the Soul

Seeking the deep, emotional truth of a situation can take a writer down a painful path.

I spent the day researching a topic I found both difficult and painful. The research took me far outside my comfort zone and left me feeling physically and emotionally shattered.

I had to take a long journey and find my way around an unfamiliar and intimidating place. I had to rely on people I did not know if I could trust and negotiate a difficult and dangerous terraine.

The discoveries I made were not easy to accept. They slithered across my consciousness, my mind not allowing them to take root. The notes I took to capture these slippery eels dip and dive over the neat lines of my notebook, and jump across several blank pages. It was the best I could do.

That night, I did not sleep well. The truths I had been avoiding filled my nighttime head through sleep, half sleep and sleeplessness. Long ago feelings of guilt, loss and rejection dredged up from the sea bed like a wreck being winched to the surface and mesmerised, I fossicked for the bodies.

As writers, we have to go deep into ourselves to uncover these emotional truths. The painful experiences that we must put aside in order to go forward with our daily lives must be taken out and reexamined, if we want our work to breathe.

Life will bring everyone to a dark night of the soul eventually. With writers, these nights will often be self imposed.