So, with Halloween, All Hallows Eve, October and Horror Month comes to a close. It feels weird that the time didn’t change over the weekend; as annoying as Daylight Savings Time is (and I do think it should be done away with at this point), it’s even more annoying that they’ve started changing when it goes into effect, or when it stops. ENOUGH ALREADY.
I’ve enjoyed talking about horror this month, and didn’t even get to write about all the things I wanted to. I didn’t talk about R. L. Stine and the Fear Street books, or the Scream movies, or the Halloween ones. I didn’t talk about Peter Straub, or vampires. I only talked about one Stephen King novel, didn’t even get into Daphne du Maurier, or any number of truly scary movies and books I’ve enjoyed over the years. I did manage to not talk about Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House, which is a mainstay, and I was going to write about Peter Straub’s Floating Dragon, until I realized that I talked about it already last year. (I did repeat Rosemary’s Baby, alas, but turned it into an entry more about Ira Levin.)
Halloween puts me in mind, again, of my unfinished story “The Weeping Nun,” and I’ve promised myself if I can get some good work on the book done today I can work on the story some more. I started thinking about Halloween this morning–duh, it is Halloween, after all–and I started thinking some more about what Halloween means, traditionally, and as I made my lunch this morning and washed dishes and put the turkey in the crock pot (I am making pulled turkey for dinner and for lunch sandwiches all week) I was remembering being a little kid in Chicago. My sister and I were only allowed to trick-or-treat on our block and the one across the street–that was as far as we were permitted to go. I don’t remember my costumes when I was a kid, and I don’t really remember much about going around and collecting candy on Halloween; I do remember being warned about unpackaged things, and the urban legends about razor blades in apples and poison injected into oranges were pretty much already well in place in the 1960’s. My parents–particularly my mother–was always afraid we were going to be taken; I never really thought about it much until this morning.
Of course she was afraid; she was from rural Alabama and moved to the Big Bad City with two small children when she was twenty. She was afraid of us being taken, she was afraid of us being run down by cars, she was afraid of us wandering off and getting lost and not being able to find our way home. I have very early memories of memorizing our phone number and our address; I can still recite them without even having to stop to think some fifty years later.
That’s what horror is really about, bottom line. Fear.
I’ve realized that is the problem I have with writing horror short stories; I don’t tap into fear enough. This was why I was having so many problems with writing “The Weeping Nun,” frankly; that, and another realization I had over the course of the weekend; that part of the problem with so much of the horror I try to write comes from not really knowing what the story really is, because I am so busy trying to create an atmosphere of creepy dread that I don’t focus on the characters and don’t figure out what the story is….and even after I write the story, I still don’t know what the story is.
Duh. And d’oh.
Sometimes I wonder how I have a career.
Anyway, here’s a hottie in his Halloween costume as I go back to the spice mines.