I had a rough night a few days back. Office squabbles. I managed to offend someone unintentionally, which resulted in back biting and catty sniping and word getting back to my boss (which we both subsequently laughed at, and opting for a direct approach addressed the matter head on by addressing the offended parties) which resulted in more back biting and catty sniping but to my face this time. At which point I gave up. Team player? Only if the game we’re playing is one of those Mayan suicide runs where the losing team gets sacrificed to the winners’ gods in the end.
So I came home decidedly pissed off, and opened up the manuscript because when everything else in life fails, at least I still have my writing. It’s oftentimes better than therapy, and considerably cheaper.
Which brought up the question, as I was stewing — contemplating the best approach to working something violent into the text to vent my frustration — why horror? The truth is, I have many reasons to write this genre for this age group that extends well beyond everyday frustration. Any type of writing gets the happy juices flowing. Writing horror tickles the parts of myself that make reality realer and the darkness darker. I’m not inoculated against fear by any means: writing horror regularly puts me in touch with the things that scare me, and helps me work through it.
I asked on Twitter why other people write horror specifically, and some of these answers hit very close to home for me. (That’s the thing about horror writers; while our answers differ somewhat, we all hold a kernel of something similar at the core when we begin this process for ourselves.)
@kirabutler I do it to explore the uncanny in the every day.
— Laura Petersen (@PetersenLaura) March 15, 2014
@kirabutler Sex and fear. The two things that reveal things to ourselves that placid contemplation cannot reach.
— Andrew Pyper (@andrewpyper) March 15, 2014
@kirabutler I write horror because I enjoy exploring the darker side of human emotions.
— Shawn Lachance (@s_lachance) April 2, 2014
@kirabutler I write horror to discuss what scares me about the world and to accept that there is more to our world than what we see.
— Jennifer Brinkmeyer (@jjbrinkmeyer) April 1, 2014
I have a deep appreciation for the “old dark stuff” that has nothing to do with writing a pissed-off teenage protagonist (who just happens to mirror my normal pissed-offness at the world, even if her motivations are vastly different.) Assessing the situation, I concluded that I write teenage fiction because I’m speaking to that little nibblet in my brain that wished she had more brass than I did when I was sixteen.
I write horror because I am obsessed with the occult, with the monster inside, with failure, with false hope, with fear, with knowing that good does not always win in the end. I write horror because it lets me explore a much more romantic, darker side of myself who loves history, the gothic, the withered, the decaying, and the crumbling. I write horror because it lets me explore other myths, folklore, legends, and legend trip them up to the present so that they’re re-constitutionalized for today’s teenagers and new adults. I write horror because the world is a dark place, but the things that live in my head are darker.
I write horror because once its on the page, it lives and breathes on its own, and it lets the light shine a little brighter on everything else in life.
The floor is open. Why do you write horror?