Fear of the Dark

I wrote my novel Hidden View in bits and pieces, in notebooks, on a computer, in endless rewrites on the back of printed pages. I began this book during my daughter’s nap time, those golden hours when I could sit down and breathe creativity in the solitude writing demands. I wrote for no one but the novel itself: to write as well and truly as I could.

This book has joined the world. It’s out there, for the taking and reading. When I think about what made this book, I took what I had at hand: a ball of yarn, imaginary rabbits, Vermont’s exquisite and desolate winter, a house both a solace and a menace. But equally driving the book are three forces. One of these is mothering. Like the ceaseless gritty wind in a canyon, my children have formed and hewn me, in a multitude of ways I never could have imagined. My children are my anchor, the physical weight that has pinned me to this soil and forced me to know the world in an expanse I never could have imagined.

When my older daughter was a baby, my husband left the state for work, and the baby and I remained. On a 100 acres, our house is surrounded by woods. At that time, I was afraid of the dark. When the baby slept at night, I had to walk down to the unlit sugarhouse in the dark, by only the thin light of a flashlight and the stars overhead. Those months were late fall then, around this time of year, and the nights were cold. The rural dark in Vermont is so profound I have held my hand inches before my face and yet been blind to my own flesh. I forced myself to go out in the dark, because I knew every journey would lessen my fear. And I knew I could not mother this baby, in this house, in this agricultural life, if I feared the dark.

Of the dark, at least, I am no longer afraid.

The true self seeks release, not constraint. It doesn’t want to be corseted in a sonnet or made to learn a system of musical notations. It wants liberation, which is why very often it fastens on the novel, for the novel seems spacious, undefined, free.

–– Rachel Cusk


Milkweed Seed/Morrisville, Vermont/Photo by Molly S.

About Brett Ann Stanciu

A writer and sugarmaker, Brett Ann lives with her two daughters in stony soil Vermont. Her novel HIDDEN VIEW was published by Green Writers Press in the fall of 2015. Let my writing speak for itself.
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