Small Flashlight, Big Darkness?

by | October 30, 2012 | General | 4 comments

By KD Grace

Today’s post is a hard one for me to settle into because it
could so easily devolve into navel gazing, and one of the promises I made to
myself and to my readers back when I wrote my very first ever blog post was
that I would keep the navel gazing to a minimum. There must be a gazillion
writer and write-hopefuls blogging, and each one is convinced that their
journey to writing success is totally unique and must be shared. Well maybe not
each one, maybe I’m only speaking for myself, in which case, I blush heartily
and apologise.

My point is that all of the energy, angst, fear, adrenaline,
exploration of dark places, exploration of forbidden places that used to go
into the pages and pages of that gargantuan navel-gaze that was my journal now
go through that strange internal filtering process that takes all my many
neuroses and insecurities, all my deep-seated fears, all my misplaced teenage
angst and magically transforms them into story.

That was sort of my little secret — that I alone, in all
the world, suffered uniquely and exquisitely for my art. I took all the flawed
and wounded parts of myself, parts I wasn’t comfortable facing, examined them
reflected through the medium of story and found a place where I could view them
and not run away screaming.

Where is all this borderline navel-gazing leading? There was
a BBC article about ten days ago asking the question, is creativity ‘closely
entwined with mental illness?’
I shared it on Facebook and Twitter to find
that lots of other writers had shared it as well and the general response was
simply that it sounded about right. There were some very moving conversations
that came out of those sharings of that article along with the realization — something
I’ve long suspected — that I am not all alone out there in my vibrant unique
neurotic bubble. And really, it comes as no surprise that one has to be at
least a little neurotic to be ballsy enough to try to bring, in one form or
another, what lives in our imagination into the real world and to attempt to put
it out there for everyone to see.

As the article was shared around and the responses mounted,
I found myself thinking of C.G. Jung’s archetype of the Wounded Healer. The
healer can only ever heal in others what she herself is suffering from. Empathy
goes much deeper than sympathy. The human capacity for story is as old as we
are. Before the written word, story was the community archive. It was our
memory of who we are, our history, our continuity, our triumphs, trials,
sufferings, joys, all memorised, filed away, and kept safely in the mind of the
story teller. That had to do something to your head, knowing that you were the
keeper of the story of your people! How could storytellers be anything other
than neurotic?

It’s a lot more personal now that we have the written word.
No one has to dedicate their lives to memorising the story of their people. Now
we tell our own story, the story of the internal battles that wound us, the
story of those wounds transformed. We all tell our stories in our own personal
code. What may well start out as a navel gaze into the deep dark wilderness of
Self can be transformed into powerful, vibrant story, and we’re healed! At
least temporarily, or at least we’re comforted. And hopefully so are those with
whom we share our stories. When I journalled my navel-gazes, I wasn’t
interested in anyone else seeing what was on those pages. It was a one-sided
attempt at a neurotic house-cleaning. Sharing the story is a part of the
healing; sharing the story is a part of the journey. The Storyteller had no
purpose if she didn’t share the story with her people.

As a neurotic living among other neurotics, I doubt that
there’s anything we’re more neurotic about as a people than sexuality. I don’t
think it’s any real surprise that there’s suddenly a huge market for erotica.
Last night I sat on a panel of erotica authors, editors and publishers at the
Guildford Book Fair – something that would have never happened before Fifty
Shades of Grey, and even at 9:00 in the evening, we played to a full house.
Each of us had a story of how we came to write erotica. We shared our stories
with a roomful of people, who then took those stories away with them to
possibly be shared with others. The archetype of the storyteller is alive and
well. And I believe writers live out the archetype of the wounded healer on a
daily basis.

Most of the time I write my stories because it’s just too
much fun not to. That’s the truth of it. I seldom consciously dig deep to find
those wounded, neurotic places. Really, who would want to do that deliberately?
But the wounded places find me, and they end up finding their way into the
story. And what surfaces is never quite what I expected, always more somehow,
even if started out to be nothing more than a little ménage in a veg patch.

KD Grace

Voted ETO Best Erotic Author of 2014, K D Grace believes Freud was right. It really IS all about sex — sex and love – and that is an absolute writer’s playground.

When she’s not writing, K D is veg gardening or walking. Her creativity is directly proportional to how quickly she wears out a pair of walking boots. She loves mythology, which inspires many of her stories. She enjoys time in the gym, where she’s having a mad affair with a pair of kettle bells. She loves reading and watching birds, and she loves anything that gets her outdoors.

KD’s novels and other works are published by Totally Bound, SourceBooks, Accent Press, Harper Collins Mischief Books, Mammoth, Cleis Press, Black Lace, and others. She also writes romance under the name Grace Marshall.

K D’s critically acclaimed erotic romance novels include, The Initiation of Ms Holly, Fulfilling the Contract, To Rome with Lust, and The Pet Shop. Her paranormal erotic novel, Body Temperature and Rising, the first book of her Lakeland Witches trilogy, was listed as honorable mention on Violet Blue’s Top 12 Sex Books for 2011. Books two and three, Riding the Ether, and Elemental Fire, are now also available.

K D Grace also writes hot romance as Grace Marshall. An Executive Decision, Identity Crisis, The Exhibition and Interviewing Wade are all available.


  1. Remittance Girl

    Great post, KD, and thank you!

    I think the practice of navel-gazing at personal neurosis is only worthwhile if it teaches you to apply the same focus on the other. i.e. If YOU have all this inner complexity, then so must others. And so must your characters. And, although they are not yours, they are as deeply felt and play as much part as a catalyst or motivational force as yours do.

  2. Lisabet Sarai

    Hi, Kathy,

    I have a guest blog post related to this topic elsewhere today (the 31st) – about the fact that I (and I think many other authors) write erotica to explore our "dark cravings" and experience situations we don't dare act out in the real world. This isn't exactly what you're talking about, I know. However, it's another side of the way authors take the personal and make it – well, we'd like to dream anyway – universal.

    The old "creativity = insanity" equation bothers me, though. Do we really have to be damaged in order to create art? I hope not, because I count myself among the less neurotic people I know (at least now – it is true I spent three months in a psychiatric hospital when I was a teen!)

    In any case, thanks for a beautiful and thought-provoking post.

  3. KD Grace

    Thanks RG, and Lisabet for the great comments. RG, I've tried twice to answer your comment and my responses seem to be lost in cyber-space. But I agree totally. I think the characters I create allow me to look at my neuroses from a safe distance, and the interaction with those characters, I find very healing and much more complex than I could have easily imagined.

    Lisabet, I've always said erotica is the ultimate 'safe sex.' It allows us and our readers to explore the darker, more dangerous parts of desire in ways we would never do in the real world.

    I think 'creativity=insanity is a bit extreme, but I do admit to finding the best part of my writing comes out of my own neuroses, of which ther are many.
    I find the topic fascinating.

    Thanks for the comments!

  4. Donna

    The best optometrists I've had wear glasses for sure! I love this concept of the Wounded Healer. I believe that empathy and heart are the unacknowledged magic of all the arts and every other human interaction as well. We lose sight of this in a "rational," bottom-line oriented world.

    I did my dissertation on madness and creativity in Japanese literature of the 1970s, so I'm also hesitant to go with the popular "writers are crazy, therefore you go crazy when you write" misconception (not that you are here, just that some loud people make that assumption). I do think a good writer is usually more sensitive to the world around her than, say, a born car salesman. That sensitivity is sometimes called "neurosis," but that all depends on what you define as normal. Is caring what Paris Hilton does normal?

    Finally, to continue with the archetypal energy, writers are the spokespeople for our imaginations and thus have a kind of shamanic power. People seem genuinely interested in how writers create, so it's not navel-gazing in the self-centered sense, it's articulating the creativity in all of us. Or so I like to think. So, go ahead and indulge!

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