I’ve always found writing to be rather therapeutic. Writers often agree on this, and I strongly believe writing can take you in that hidden place inside your mind where all the twisted stuff is- the subconscious. Freud based his theory of psychoanalysis on this, arguing that the subconscious is a complex and vital part of us. So when we write, especially free write, things from our subconscious might come out and say hi. This is really great news if you happen to write romance, fantasy, or comedy. But what about horror?
It took me quite some time to realize that the only thing I really enjoy writing is dark and horror fiction. It came to me, not so long ago, when I was putting together a portfolio for a creative writing class. This portfolio consisted of a short story, a personal essay, a couple of poems, and a multitude of writing exercises. I was proofreading everything for the last time when I realized the common denominator of all my work stopped being comma splices and misspells, but instead turned out to be blood and gore. What?!
I read fantasy. Biographies. Enjoy analyzing the hell out of children’s literature. Where did this all come from? I made some coffee and phoned a friend.
“I think I write horror” I said expecting her to say something like “Great! Let me read some, I bet it’s awesome”. Instead she started laughing. Apparently I am the last person people expect to write horror. So I told her the subject of all the work in my portfolio: people get attacked by their toddlers, men dig their own holes in which they go crazy, ghosts try to cope with their deaths, and ghouls come out.
“Shit”, she said. And that summed up both of our thoughts on the matter.
It’s fine really. After all, I love Stephen King, Bram Stoker, Anne Rice, and many others. I read them at a young enough age for it to make an impression on me and influence my writing. The real question here is why did it took me such a long time to realize it? And even worse, why do I lack the courage to make public anything I write? It’s not something I’m ashamed of; in fact, it’s something I am embracing, since it made me much more passionate about my writing. Finding my preferred genre took a long time, perhaps because of my relationship with writing was one of more downs rather than ups. I’ve only recently been encouraged to write and it’s still a process of me being able to accept that I can do it. Finding out that I like to write dark and scary short stories and poems has been a revelation at a very personal level, not unlike that of a parent learning that his child likes to play the piano. I mean…the possibilities, all the things that lie ahead.
In my creative writing class, my group wrote about meaningful things: social themes, consumerism, parenting, etc. I chose to dive deep in symbolism and play with ideas that I wasn’t used to. I started a short story in which a father was thinking about his young careless years, while realizing his present was comprised of living a sexless marriage, and a life revolving around his son’s mental illness. I thought it would be something that would pass me the class, as well as being a good enough topic to be easily digested by my peer reviewers. But soon enough, the characters started living their own lives and things went crazy. The father went insane, the kid went murder mode: on, and I woke up with a story looking nothing like the one I first envisioned. It was kind of scary but it was fun in the same time. It’s almost like it was writing itself, and I got incredibly passionate about that. Day after day I was writing draft after draft while drinking huge quantities of coffee and researching things that I wanted to include in my story (but knew nothing about). At night, pumped with caffeine and inspiration, I would wake up to reach hungrily for my pen and paper and scribble paragraphs of descriptions and dialogue I could later include. I did this for weeks until all I could think about was this one story. I ended up with a text that was dark and twisted but, to my surprise, appreciated. I got the maximum grade for that course and I learned, except writing techniques and terminology, much about myself. It was a side of me I never knew before and I welcomed it.
So I am a horror writer and that’s what I like writing about. Surprising as much to me as to others who know me. My plots are dark and my characters never stand a chance at a quiet life, but I am happy and thankful I am finally embracing writing while having no fears and having nothing to hide. It was like that once, but that is something for another post.
If I should choose to look at this from a Freudian perspective I guess the happy and lively person that I am hides quite some dark stuff inside. Weirdly enough, it doesn’t bother me. Perhaps one of these days I will write here a couple of my poems or some flash fiction. Until then I am my worst critic and draft after draft things never look good enough to me. But one of these days… .