Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Facing Your Fears

Welcome everyone. Unfortunately, I've no notable news of the notable type to update you all on my current writing projects (Well, unless you want to count almost losing everything I had when my laptop died, though I did manage to save it all, AND you can now find and like me on facebook .), so this week I'm just going to dive straight into our little article.

One of the questions horror writers get asked the most is usually along the lines of "Why do you write such horrible stuff?" The answer varies from author to author, but I like to answer a question with a question.

Why do people want to read such horrible stuff?

The answers to that question as well vary greatly from person to person, though you're apt to get a lot of Um's and Uh's. It's one of those questions that doesn't have a straightforward answer. Just as a lot of writers reply to the first question, a lot of people will reply to the second with "We just do."

Why do people watch the nightly news to hear all about the murders/suicides/assaults/thefts/etc.etc. night after night after night. It's not honestly stuff we need to know. A lot of us are very well aware with how dangerous the world can be; we don't really need graphic reminders on a daily basis. So it's not even about the news. If we're going to be brutally honest with each other here, we have to accept one fact. The nightly news is pretty much the longest running horror show on television. Again, why do we watch it? If it's not the news, then what? It's about our fears. It's about what scares us, the what if's and maybes. What if you'd been in that bank while it was robbed? What if that was your house that was broken into? Maybe the members of the gang involved in the drive-by shooting live nearby.

Humans seem to be driven towards the macabre, the disturbing and things that scare them. It's really hard to say why that is, but it's enough for this blog to know that people are. Ask around and you'll find very few people that could honestly say they didn't slow down as they drove past a bad accident just to look at the scene. What it really comes down to is fear. Fear of death, of pain, of the unknown. I think on an instinctual level, we are driven to face the things we fear, even if we shrink away when we finally do face it. It's one way we grow as individuals.

That is one reason people read such horrible stuff. Horror fiction allows people to face the things that scare them from the safety and comfort of their living room couch or under the soft light of a reading lamp in bed. It allows them to test their own limits, particularly when reading a good writer of such material. Sometimes it will even show them things they didn't even know they were afraid of or let them view such things in light that is even more frightening than they thought.  A reader of such material though has the option of closing the book and walking away when things get too hot and heavy for them, but what about the writer?

The writer has no option of walking away from the story. This is their livelihood, their chosen profession. If they can't even face their own fears, what right do they have to wave other people's under their noses? In many ways, this makes the writers that choose horror as their home field some of the bravest (or most depraved?) people around. They choose to face their horrors, the things that scare them, without the benefit of a way out if things start getting intense. They have the option of stepping away for a little bit, maybe even a few days, but they still have to come back to it. It sits there, waiting; and as any fan of the horror genre knows, the longer you hide from the thing that scares you, the scarier it gets.

~ Shaun Horton

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