#AtoZChallenge: U is for Unquiet


The word “unquiet” reminds me of the many ghost stories I love. All horror writers know how difficult it is to write a good ghost story, but I would like to think that any and every story we can ever write and/or read can be portraying the cause and effect of an anxious, restless mind.

An unquiet mind is noticed because it has a voice. Whatever form this voice takes and however (un)reasonable it is, it demands to be heard. And when this voice is finally noticed and even listened to, a story is born. It is our duty as writers to capture as many of these stories as possible, and to transform them into everlasting words. Like the stars, there could be millions or even billions of these stories out there.

For some reason I am thinking about Kathryn Harrison’s 2002 literary novel The Seal Wife and the 2014 Australian psychological horror film The Babadook. Both deal with women’s voices and their desperate attempt to break out of desolation, as well as the impact of their action on those around them. Indeed, at this moment I can think of half a dozen literary works and films as expressions of this theme. So, the question: Why do women’s unquiet minds demand so much of our attention?

To me, it is because women’s voices are often unheard. In many cases this is a result of exterior suppression, but it is when such silencing derives from self-censorship that it becomes particularly alarming. In the latter case, a mind remains quiet, either because it does not know it has a voice, or because it does not think it should have one. Here, a story is born, yes, but it is one of horror, of those deep-sea creatures who have no idea what eyes are because there has never been any light down there. Imagine: Trying to give light or introduce eyes to these creatures may end up killing them.

So, how can we relate this to women’s voices? Unless we are writing about mindless creatures, it should be hypothesised that all minds are born quiet. A mind becomes unquiet when it is disturbed and, as a result, finds its voice. It senses a need for change, either to confront and even conquer whatever external or internal force that has been keeping it quiet, or to eliminate the source of disturbance and resume its silence. Which story would you write?


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