Ladies and gentleman, I write horror stories.
I can tell from the hush in the crowd that I have offended some of you, and for that I apologize.
It shouldn’t have taken me this long to offend you.
I need to try harder.
It’s strange, this tag system we have as humans, where we label every thing we see so we can better define and understand it. I mean, I get that our brains work that way. That’s swell. Hell, our minds work the way they work, what can ya do? The thing is that those labels can become cages for the labeled and the labeler, which is why I, and most people who do any art, avoid them.
Sometimes we try to hard to avoid them.
Over the past weekend at the Motor City Nightmares I got a chance to speak to some writers who are part of a writing group that focuses on horror and supernatural stories and I found myself saying the tried and true – I don’t write horror necessarily. As soon as I said it I regretted having said it because it sounded so pompous and like something every asshole that drives me crazy says – oh, horror, no, no, no, I don’t do horror. As if horror is something negative or bad. Bah! For me, it isn’t that at all, it’s that what I write is close to horror but isn’t necessarily horror. It’s a close friend and neighbor but not necessarily the thing itself. Ah, but there are exceptions. See, I do have stories that are horror, and nothing more or less, it’s just that I don’t consider them very horrifying personally. I try but I can’t tell you if I succeed or not. That’s up to you or some other person to say. But I, like most people, don’t want to think that all I write is horror. Take Stephen King, a hell of a writer who gets a lot of crap because a lot of what he writes takes a walk on the darker side of things. The thing is, so what? He tells stories about vampires and monsters and ghosts and stuff. So the hell what? Why is his stuff less valid than anyone else’s? I don’t get it at all. I have read some overrated crap that is considered brilliant when I found it dry and dated, but I won’t tell you or anyone that that work is invalidated as art, same thing should go for King, or me, or anyone.
The rub is this – no one should be JUST this or that. You should never want that and, I don’t think that anyone IS that. Even if you only write about space ships and martians, there is something deeper at work, even if it goes unseen by the writer themself. There is is always more, even to the simplest of stories. Running from the label though isn’t much an answer though because it’s just another trap. It’s a shame, too, because you’d think it’d be enough to write a story, a good story, and people can figure out what it is and what it means along the way.
The crummy thing too is this – in the world we live in, you sorta have to fall into a category to be published because that makes it easier for publishers to know whether they have experience with or interest in what you do. Crap does it get depressing though reading – no horror – as they call for literature. And I laugh because I wonder if even they know what literature means other than that it reminds them of some other writer that was called literature. Me, I dunno what I write, other than the silly ‘dark fiction’ title I give it all so I fall towards horror just because I don’t figure I write lit.
What do I know?
I hate labels, even as I label things myself. If I have to have one though, I can live with horror. Between you and me though, I write dark literature. Keep that to yourself though.HAHAHAHA.