Killing your Inner Dark Passenger

Yes, Dark Passenger references Jeff Lindsay’s Dexter character, a serial killer that kills serial killers. I hate to introduce Lindsay’s novels like because it downplays the vastly impressive understanding of human nature and the male psyche.

Those of you who know Dexter, either from the Showtime series (which is OK at best) or from Lindsay’s novels, know that Dark Passenger is the name Dexter gives his evil side, the side of him that requires human sacrifice and blood. Now, what does that have to do with writing you ask?

All writers have a name for that little beast, that voice in your head keeping you from writing or keeping you from letting others readying your writing. Some call it your Inner Critic. Others like Julia Cameron call it your Censor. Its the voice all artists, writers more often than other artists I think but that could just be bias opining, that causes artists to back away from creating.

I like to think of it as my own Dark Passenger. The truly creepy part is that my Dark Passenger not only has a mind of its own, some days it’s quite as moss growing the woods and other days it wants nothing more than to eat my soul with fava beans and a nice Chianti, but that it has three distinct voices depending on its mood or topic of complaint.

1. My partner (well, the partner when we first started dating many years ago): Back then I asked her to read some of my writing. She hated it. The worst stuff ever. Demanded I never write again. Granted, I’ve gotten much better at writing. And, she’s told me so. But, deep inside me somewhere the old version of my partner festers in the corner like a feral dog.

2. Eighth Grade English Teacher: I don’t even remember his name. This may be selective memory. Don’t know. But he did tell me that I had no chance in College Prep English or even whatever the mid-level English courses were in high school. So, he told me he was recommending me for General English. I pleaded with him. Apparently teachers frown upon students who don’t do their homework. Who’d have figured? Unfortunately for me, school grades rarely take in to consideration the torture you are dragged through at the time the grade is handed to you.

If you’re rich and your parents foster your assets, you do well, you are given an ‘A’ and your head is held high, propped up by solid supports.

If you’re less than well off in a family falling apart at the seems, beginning drug addictions as coping mechanisms, and fighting off bullies that LITERALLY run you down in their parents’ cars, you get stuck with that ‘D’, or ‘C’ if you’re so lucky, and you get to wear that letter on your breast like TheĀ Scarlet Letter. Yes, I did read it, teacher, I just hated myself too much to write my report.

3. My Father. This was an odd conclusion on my part. My psycho-analyst (yes, I had one of those because I’m borderline crazy) tells me most of my problems stem from my mother. Something Freud told us over a hundred years ago.

But no. It’s my father. Why my father? Well, turns out most of my fiction, and all of my non-fiction, writing focuses on political issues. My father is a stanch Conservative with leanings somewhere between Rush Limbaugh and Hitler. Every time I think about the world and where power rests and who wields that power and why, I have his damn voice telling me how wrong I am.

I tell you all this because I refuse to let these voices rule my existence any longer. My inner creative child may be a timid, rail-thin, awkward child with puppy dog eyes. But he’s being well fed now. Nurtured. Loved.

Prepare yourself, world. You are about to be introduced to the next important author.

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