Anyway, Lisa's guest post is below . Drum roll please....
I’m going to ‘fess up from the onset that I’m a complete and utter wuss when it comes to reading horror novels nowadays. When I was a teenager I devoured them. You’d always find me with my nose in a James Herbert novel or the like, whilst simultaneously clutching a cushion for comfort. I loved the thrill of being frightened.
Nowadays I see a trailer for a horror film and I have to seek therapy. I thought this meant I’d never be able to read anything in the horror genre again. Then I realised as I got to know fellow writers who write horror that it has many shades. I’m not talking Fifty Shades of Grey; that’s a horror in itself.
I’ve realised that horror doesn’t always have to be that full-on gore fest we often imagine it to be. It has many levels. I’m dabbling with beginning to read the lower key, less obvious horror at the moment. It’s got me thinking; a horror novel is the perfect analogy for being a writer when you consider its classic elements.
Writers the world over will experience fear. We dress it up as writer’s block or lack of self-confidence when in reality it is horrific, full-on fear.
Like the silly idiot in a horror novel who answers the phone when they’re alone, we always answer the call for a new writing idea, knowing that we’re treading into the scary world of ‘The New Writing Project’.
Again, like that silly cow that goes around the house shouting out, ‘Is there anybody there’, we call out in fear to our writing.
We kind of want it to make an appearance as we’d like to know what we’re facing, but at the same time we’re not sure we’re ready to see the monstrous face of ‘The New Writing Project’.
I’m proud that when I read a crime or thriller I often work out who the killer is before I get to the stage where all is revealed. I’ll confess it may be one sentence before but never mind. I never knew I was going to be a writer one day. I’m sure many of you reading this can relate. I certainly did not see that one coming.
Wouldn’t it be lovely, fellow writers, to have some more spoilers in our lives? As we write the first draft it would be great to know that it will one day change from an ugly duckling to a swan. Side note: I actually have a phobia of swans, so maybe not those – there’s my horror story right there, my first draft turning into a big ass bird.
It would be great to know that as our novel is published that we will sell squillions of copies. Then we wouldn’t feel like we’re on a rollercoaster every time we check our e-book sales or hear back from the publisher.
It would be lovely to have a crystal ball that tells us we will become a best-selling author and revered worldwide.
All this said, I don’t think I want to know my writing future. Spoilers can ruin your experience of discovering things for yourself.
I was that weird person who used to read the end of a novel before I started it. I’ve come to realise that I’ve been denying myself the pleasure of working through the book to get to the final destination. That’s why I’ve stopped, sort of. No one can break a control freak in one day.
The writing life has no guaranteed results or endings. We don’t get to find out if our novels will be slashed to pieces by savage reviewers or that our book sales will be killed stone cold dead before they barely get a chance to draw breath. That’s the thrill of the scary chase right there. As long as it doesn’t end in blood or tears shed, that’s kind of alright with me.
Never has life surprised me more than when I began writing. I live in a perpetual state of surprise, mainly from the following:
- That I ever got round to doing this writing gig in the first place. It had been hiding in the shadows for years and then one day crept up behind me and said ‘Boo’. Yes, my writing horror inspiration is a bit crap at this horror thing, I grant you.
- Where on earth do these strange ideas spring from? Believe me, some of them are absolute horrors. I like the sneaky little blighters that know how to build up the tension, crawl around in my brain, and then eject ‘Alien’ style from my mind, through my fingers and on the page. They’re the very best little beasts of ideas.
- Writers are a pretty friendly and helpful bunch of people. They let you do foolish things like guest post for them and potentially drive away all their followers, cheers Anthony. I previously thought all writers would be angst-ridden egotists. Some are. Most aren’t.
- The fact that I manage to write often provides a few jumps and starts. I find myself occasionally stopping when I’m writing and having to pinch myself to check it’s really me doing this business. When you’re living with the horror of depression that rears its dastardly head every now and again, writing often slays the mental illness beast. Some days it doesn’t. But as with all good horror sequels, I live to fight that monster another day with my trusty keyboard and notebook of ideas.
Where on earth is this novel going? Will I ever be published? Will anyone buy my book? Will I win that writing competition? Oh yes, the writing life is full of suspense.
Like a poor idiot who walks the dark alleyway waiting to be pounced upon by the Bogey Man, we all take the path less known every time we write, ask for beta reading, have editing, submit, or publish.
The writer’s life is one based upon perpetual suspense. We are the orchestrators of building up the tension to a crescendo of self-doubt and wails that ‘I will never write again’. Then we get to the end of the dark pathway and realise it was false. Nothing is there, nothing nasty jumps out. Oh no, that’s coming when you’re merrily going along, doing all the lovely writing, and when you least expect it.
Many a writer has asked themselves, ‘Why am I doing this?’ This may be regarding their chosen career, first draft, or despondency at low book sales. I have no clear answers. This is all an absolute mystery.
We put ourselves out there, showing off our wares as if we are naked in public, to be scrutinised. We are akin to the young woman of horror novel and film tropes who has just had sex, only to be chased down by a madman after her partner has been slashed.
She’s always in her undies and horrified at the situation. So are we. We don’t understand why we are always being caught with our metaphorical pants down, as willing participants, only to feel exposed when we are seen.
Maybe it’s not such a mystery after all. We write because we want someone, even if it’s only the cat, to read what we have written. We have something to share.
We pour our heart, soul, blood and guts into it (this is a horror analogy after all). Someone has to recognise that. Now go and buy our books or support our writing platforms will you? We’ll be right horrors if you don’t *slopes off quietly in shame at ending her piece with an awful pun*.
Lisa Sell is a fiction writer of novels (plurals indicate optimism on her part) and short stories. She also blogs weekly at: http://www.lisasell.co.uk When she’s not wrestling with words, Lisa can be found showing the love for chocolate, cheese, coffee, the cat, and the husband. Not particularly in that order.