The Joy of Horror

I definitely consider myself a genre writer. I’m not too keen on literary fiction; it most certainly has its place, and there is some fantastic literary fiction out there that well-deserves its accolades. But as both a reader and a writer, I would much rather be taken out of a realistic setting and put into something fantastical and truly imaginary.

So, I write and read genre fiction. My favorite genre is probably horror, both as a creator and a consumer. I enjoy the visceral thrills of horror, to be sure: the external conflict against an unrelenting force bent on destruction and the desperate need for survival can make, in able hands, for compelling reading (and watching; I love horror films just as much as I love horror fiction). I enjoy even more, however, the character development and introspection that’s inherent, and maybe even unique to, the horror genre.

Horror, as a genre label, has numerous definitions. Some akin horror to pornography, in that it offers a sensual and emotional experience that is superficial and fleeting, and serves little intrinsic purpose with little value. It is this definition of horror that has, before the current horror film renaissance we’ve slowly been experiencing ever since the release of 28 Weeks Later…, so often commanded discussion of the genre. Horror movies were excuses to watch attractive yet obnoxious people have sex and then die, and horror fiction was trash consumed by goth kids all in a race to be edgier than their fellow nihilists. Lately the way we talk about horror has grown more nuanced. It’s now accepted that the horror genre uses the base human emotion of fear to explore classical human experiences and literary themes, most often dealing with trauma.

What I admire the most about the horror genre is that it forces the reader or viewer into a state of discomfort before engaging them with subtext. Why is this discomfort necessary? To build empathy with the characters, for one. It’s hard to not think about existential dread and the fragility of life when such ideals are being played out right in front of you. Another reason why this discomfort is necessary is that squeezes the audience out of their comfort zone, which makes them more willing to engage with weighty topics and ideas.

I love many other genres, and will be talking about all of them. But it’s horror that I find the most engaging, exciting, and ultimately meaningful. It’s no exaggeration that after finishing The Shining I felt more alive than I ever had up until that moment.

ACCEPTED: 12-Point Buck

I had another flash fiction story accepted to Trembling With Fear. It’s called “12-Point Buck,” and it’s about a hunter who is expecting to take a home a prize buck to be rewarded, but then something happens that changes his hunt into something more personal.

I’ll post a link  in my published works once it goes live. I’m happy to report this success after a string of rejections, and as usual I hope to ride this wave to even more good news. I’m working on a submission for Welcome to the Splatter Club. This one explores a theme I find uniquely fascinating: how far will a creative professional go to realize their art? I also have my eyes on an epic fantasy and/or a detective anthology from the same publisher.

Good luck to all of my fellow writers trying to make it in this cutthroat world. Well, not really cutthroat, but most certainly breakneck.

How Not to Get Writing Done

I’ve struggled this past week with writing every day. I’ve only gotten down a few words for the short story I’m working on. There’s a few reasons for this.

My depression has been bad lately.  There have been insurance-related issues (chiefly, they want to make sure I’ve taken literally every other medication that’s cheaper) in getting a full prescription for some medication of which I was taking samples. It was working very well, but it won’t work if it’s not in my system.

I’ve been busy. I’ve had meetings at my full-time job, things to do at home, and just general distractions. It’s hard to focus when you’re exhausted.

More of my work has been rejected, which always makes me doubt the worth of all of this.

But the fact remains: if I’m not writing, I won’t get published.

Telling myself that, of course, just discourages me more, but it’s true.

Hopefully, next week will be better.