I have been writing most of my life. Like many authors, I’ve used it as an escape, as a release, and as a creative outlet. The best (and probably most common advice) I’ve gotten from other writers is to simply keep writing. That’s how you learn, it’s how you get better, it’s how you get to where you want to be. And they’re not wrong. Spending most of my life creating stories and putting ideas on paper has given me a strong love of words, and I believe it has prepared me for the next chapter in my story (pun intended).
My elementary school was great. We did a fair amount of creative writing, and there are two stories I specifically remember from that time. The first was a post-apocalyptic tale featuring every pet I ever had, (including some I wished I had but didn’t) on their quest to save the world. If I recall correctly, I made myself cry while writing it because I killed off one of the animals and it was slightly traumatic for me. The second was a creepy horror short story that was probably penned around either Halloween or Christmas, because I decided to write about a nutcracker that had come to life and started mauling people. Yeah, a nutcracker like one of these guys:
Apparently I was deeply mistrustful of the nutcrackers my mother kept in the house when the holidays rolled around. Although to be fair, I think it’s sensible for a kid to have a healthy fear of wooden men with beaver teeth who require you to aggressively pull on their coattails in order to split pistachio nuts. But I digress. The point is, from the beginning, my writing had dark twisted elements. In fact, my teachers were probably wondering what the hell was wrong with this nine-year-old child who was writing about the end of the world and murderous Christmas decorations.
The answer is simple though: fear. Fear has always been a big part of my writing. For me, it makes my work more authentic. Even as a kid, I think I recognized that. It’s a primal human emotion, and it’s one that almost everyone can tap into. Whether I was writing short stories, poetry, or simply journaling, fear always seemed to be there, hovering in the background. And I don’t mind that. Like I said, I think it brings a ring of truth to projects.
Several years ago I worked on a YA dystopian novel where the main character worried that her mind was being scientifically manipulated by her school. This is another fear of mine (now that I’m older and no longer frightened by nutcrackers): not being able to trust your own brain. And of course, the psychological thriller I finished writing several months ago deals with another, more adult fear: the dread of abandonment. Oh, and also murder.
I realize this makes me sound a little doom-and-gloom-y but that’s not necessarily the case. I can easily tap into other emotions too, and I do enjoy doing that. I just love creepy things, and I like writing about them. It’s why I like books that use suspense, or psychological horror. Give me your dark, messed-up protagonists, give me your shady, off-kilter towns. I love that stuff. You write what you know, and you write what you love.
So that is how my path started. It started with a little girl who absolutely hated the dead-eyed nutcracker that lived on the mantle during the holiday months. So she took that distaste and fear and created art out of it. Because if something scares you, you should conquer it. I like to do my conquering with a pen.
Or a keyboard, everything is digital nowadays.