I've been writing for years, and I have tackled some dark subjects. I find that my writing gets the strongest response when I write closest to the edge. I don't mean that the topic necessarily has to be edgy. I mean when the emotion in a scene is so honest that I've basically stopped protecting myself--from embarrassment, from pain, from whatever I fear. Ironically, to produce something that raw usually takes many rewrites. Even after all this time, I seldom go for the jugular in the first draft, or the second. I still hold back.
reason I appreciate my critiquers is that they call me on this; they
point out when I'm hiding. Self-protection is so automatic and so
ingrained that I can't see my own defenses. Dropping defenses is not
instinctive; it's counter-instinctive, really. It must be learned. And I
find that it must be relearned with every project.