Women in Horror Month: 2016
Who am I? Who are we?
I would need to take the shoes off of a classroom full of students, to count how many articles, lectures, and interviews I’ve given over the years. First, let me say, writers don’t look to become celebrities… We wave our nickers out on a clothes line, for inspection and ridicule, and no one will ever be able to tell you why. We sit in bookstores for signings, afraid that no one will ever show up. There are no red carpets, flashing bulbs, or swag bags. We take our vision, our art, and cut it to shreds … because we’re told that will make it sell better. I wonder if Picasso would have listened to, “That’s too blue, to find an audience. Maybe, add some yellow?” Don’t even get me started on the critics. So, why take every interview, seminar, lecture, article, or cold corner at the local bookstore? Quite simply because, this neurotic bunch of contradictory introverts are the product we are selling; not our fantastic tales, but the mind, imagination, and sweat-tears-guts that create the stories. Why should the insecure place themselves in a position to get creamed, criticized, belittled and forgotten … many can’t, more quit. However, we all have a story to tell that is more important to share, than the fear of consequences.
This is not a hobby. This is not a career, or even a job. This is what you are, what feeds your soul. It keeps you company in the dark; and holds you tight, even as it creates its own nightmares. It cuts open old festering wounds, and lets them breathe. It hurts. It heals. This is writing. To succeed, it will make you the most vulnerable creature on the planet, and then give you a hard crunchy shell that is impervious to insult when you’re in public … and behind closed doors, cry like a baby while you learn to drink like a proper WASP… Just ask Hemingway.
The key to never running out of material is write what you know. With this being said, there are certain genres that carry a breed of their own, genres you may, or may not, want to meet in a dark alleyway … comedy, erotica, or political biographies. Dark fiction and horror writers though… We put our demons down on the page, and thus tend be a much more light-hearted band of characters. Many of us recognize in each other, the brand of survival. In the depths of our stories are the shadows of hard lessons learned; sometimes they end mercifully, and at other times, hopelessly. Why do people read horror, enjoy tasting the darkness once and a while? Because it speaks to the human condition, lets us know that we aren’t alone in the gloom … our hard lessons learned are shared, and maybe, just maybe, there is enlightenment to be gleaned.
Rather than give another stream of answers to inconsequential biographical questions about where I grew up, or what my favorite sweet treat might be, I’d like to tell my story in lessons learned, to prove that you and I are connected. You and I share the stories that we tell, live, cherish, and attempt to forget with every fiber of our beings.
- Grief is for the living, not the dead. Death is silence, life ruptures eardrums… and the weeping of a mother, who outlives her child, is deafening.
- Survival is a magnifying glass, focused down a narrow hallway. You know when you truly find it, because nothing but crawling through that passage matters; not the kicks while you’re on the ground, not even the taste of blood in your mouth, just keep your head down and concentrate on reaching the end. Focus that energy on the right task, nothing can stop you.
- Pain, whether emotional, mental, or physical is subjective. And much like poison, one can build an immunity … at a cost.
- Love is not a myth. Neither is hope. Those who preach that they are, have not survived losing either entirely, not yet.
- Having dreams will lift you up … they will keep you company during the darkest times. Be careful not to pour everything into them though, just in case they fall through.
- A love of learning, of reading in particular, and more than a touch of humility will serve you in any, and all, situations.
- Everyone has to face the light, everyone. Some curse it; some shrink from it; some allow it to cast life’s shadows behind them … and then walk away.
- You, and only you, can pick who you are … but we are connected. I know you as I know myself, and I write for us … that is who I am.