Personal Essay #8 – Finding the Fear in Me

Personal Essay Button I’ll be writing and posting Personal Essays on the last Tuesday of every month. They will be honest, sometimes vivid explorations of my life.

I’m writing them for two reasons: to help put my experiences in perspective and to purge myself of any residual compost.

Since it is good therapy, you are invited to join me, post your link in comments and I’ll be sure to drop by.

Let it begin:

I decided to write a horror story and found this project the most challenging to date. It began with a book titled, “On Horror Writing,” and if you’d like to know more about the book look at my post for Teaser Tuesday last week. It helped me sift through some ideas, while I sought out how to add the horrific atmosphere. But atmosphere was not enough for me I also wanted to add a twist because like most writers I’m always looking for a way to surprise my readers. I`ve got most of it down, but there is still a lot of smoothing out required.

I took a course probably over two years ago on writing horror. Don’t get the wrong idea; it was not my genre of choice. I just really, really wanted to take a writing course and this was the one available. The course introduced me to “On Horror Writing“. It pointed out there are two kinds of horror—monsters and more of an atmospheric type of writing.

Without a monster, the writer has to delve in and find what scares them most. Capturing the feeling for me wasn’t that hard, almost everything can scare me to a degree: someone facing a chance of death (a small child is the worst); walking through a dangerous place—neighborhood, wilderness, country; losing all my money and assets; losing my ability to see, hear, feel; being rejected by my community or loved ones; being proved guilty when I’m innocent; and it goes on. The list I imagined did scare me, but not as deeply as I needed for my story. I was forced to choose one and exaggerate it to the extreme to get in the mood I needed to create the horrific atmosphere. It turns out I could give myself chills deep into the marrow

I started off with my main character`s reprieve of a death sentence, let her think she’d live happily ever after; then I had the very unhappy accuser appear to make their own kind of justice. The more I thought about it the deeper my fear grew. I related so well with the main character, Lottie, and was able to do a deeper point-of-view. It was a journey, a role play, that I’ve never done to this degree. And amazingly enough, I could reread a paragraph and jump back into the project rarin’ to go.

I guess the biggest thing I’ve learned attempting to write this story is that deep down I’m scared. Bad news—a lot more scared than I knew, but not about the typical things most people pushed out of their heads. Good news—I’ve more emotion to draw on; and I can purge myself through the usual expression of writing it out. My preferred the method is to be constructive and therapeutic and not sinking into a depression where I cry on passing shoulders like forevah. :-) Anything scare you, and do you want to share what that might be?