I was in Golden for my friend’s wedding at the end of August. The weather was cool and gloomy and wonderful, the perfect atmospheric fodder for getting back into a legitimate writing routine. Often I forget that it’s been about two years since I stopped writing on the regular. Sometimes I look at my kid and think to myself that time really hasn’t passed all that fast. Despite what people have told me, I find time passing for myself quicker than I find it passing with my daughter. I’m sure that’s mostly because she’s so petite. She still fits in her 12 month clothes. All the shoes I buy her are WAY TOO BIG and I keep thinking that I want her to just grow and grow and grow so she can fit into her cute black cat flats, dammit.
On the way back from my Golden cabin retreat, I wrote a horror story. I wouldn’t call it scary, but it did have the regular horror elements that I like to write about. Ghosts. Possession. Rural environments. It had a that touch of eroticism that normally bleeds into my fiction, whether I want it to or not. Sitting in the back of the van we rented fro the tip, I cranked the first short story that I’d passionate about in a long time.
I thought it was good.
Then I shared it with a few writer friends and got some feedback that opposed with my thoughts.
Now, if you’re a writer and share your work with people you trust, you know that constructive feedback can sting. You trust your friends to to be honest, because they’re people who have fallen in love with your work and your characters and the subjects you choose to write about, those pieces of you that don’t come out personally but only through text. So when I got the feedback on my horror story from friends telling me that there some of those elements in my fiction were missing, well, I really had to sit back and think about exactly what it was I was trying to do.
Ever since publishing Vile Men I’ve been struggling with wanted to do next (apart from the novel I’ll be writing in November). Considering that a handful of horror blogs gave the collection such great fanfare, I figured that taking a detour down some horror avenues might be a re-inventive direction. I don’t know if I felt too confined by the genre, but horror really hit me for a loop.
The piece I wrote in Golden was simply that. Just a horror story. I suppose I could write more. I suppose I could get better at it. There’s a part of me that doesn’t want to write “dirty stories that can still be considered literary” forever, but there’s also that tormented part of me that always will.
So I’m not entirely sure what to do with the horror story I wrote. I’ve added more to it, more character, more tension, a little politics to give it meaning. I’ll share it with more people. I don’t know what they’ll think.
What I’ve learned from these past few months is that I’m still in the heap of my writer crisis. It’s a perpetual sophomore slump of awfulness, only this time I’ve got a billion new stories in my head all with a slight horror bent and I keep downplaying myself, thinking that they’re not worth writing or that I can’t pull them off or that I don’t have the chops, or or or or or…
Mostly, I’m just paranoid. That’s what horror is.
November and Nanowrimo and the novel I’ve been thinking about for a year are still a month away. I’ll keep being stubborn and writing write more horror. Because it’s October. Because Halloween is coming. Because at least I’m writing something, and that’s more than I’ve done in two years.