I’ve written on this topic before and touch on my philosophy in the bio I wrote up in the About Me section of this website. The article linked below shows that other people understand where I’m coming from and maybe even agree with it.
There are two ways to deal with the ugliness that exists in the world. One is to ignore it and if you’re lucky you can go through your whole life convincing yourself things aren’t all that bad. This works well to protect the practitioner but does little to change the circumstances of anyone who might be trapped in the ugliness. The other is to step into the darkness and wrestle it into submission, or at least cooperation, so that you can keep it at bay.
Surviving cancer and developing relationships with victims of the ugliness have made it impossible for me to choose the first solution. Instead, I choose not to be afraid of the darkness, nor will I let it win.
As writers we have an opportunity, through our work, to recognize the experience of darkness not as a byproduct of conditions, but as an expression of state of mind and perception. It is reality that some life stories have a nightmare quality – a dense brutality. But to create a character able to transform his story is to recognize that the light within can only truly be concealed by the character himself. This revelation is emotionally powerful and liberating for the writer and the reader.