I Feel Much Better

Since I last posted, I've been struggling. My life in general has been in turmoil. My dad's death is catching up with me. And there have been days when I simply haven't wanted to write. I feel horrified reading that last sentence. Writer is how I've always defined myself. But lately, I've stopped caring. And when I have picked up the pen again, I haven't known what to write. I'd begun to feel ashamed of writing horror. Some of my writers' group- all women, actually- have been reading their own pieces, which have been honest and truthful (that is to say, attempting to write mainstream or contemporary fiction), and it's made my efforts feel sick, lame, half-hearted, good for a laugh but nothing else. I used to write stuff like that, too.
At the beginning of term, our tutor set us an exercise, and I wrote this short piece, flash fiction, based on a painful memory I had. Writing that felt electric; and as I read it aloud to my group, I felt I'd made a connection, the most meaningful thing I'd written in years. That night left me both inspired and stumped; because I wanted to write something honest (contemporary or mainstream literature).
Lately, I've had a story published on the microhorrorMicrohorror website and another one published on Paragraph Planet (also horror). I've also written a new horror flash fiction. I wrote them quickly, without feeling strain. I'm not embarrassed by horror, but I've decided that I also want to try to write something more honest, possibly a novel. I want to attempt, too, to create characters who seem real; and to have those characters drive the story. I have to admit that, when I've been writing horror fiction, I haven't given any thought to the characters. I hope that they seem real enough not to spoil the effect. But, let's face it, in real life, if somebody tells you that a house is haunted, you avoid it.
I'd stopped reading fiction. But now I've started again. Stephen King's 'Salem's Lot, which is fantastic. This is my first Stephen King novel, and I wish to God I'd read it years ago. I think I must have been snobbish about popular authors, but it's obvious to me now that King is popular for a reason. 'Salem's Lot, obviously, is a horror story; but I've also begun to read A Christmas Carol. Which is, ghosts aside, a story about a character changing his life for the better. I know the general outline of the story- is there anybody who doesn't?- but I've never read it.
I've got a sneaking suspicion that Nick Hornby's High Fidelity (my favourite novel) is really a variation on A Christmas Carol. The protagonist, Rob Fleming, seeks out his 'ghosts', and also re-evaluates his life, emerging as a better person. And some of my other favourite novels also seem to fall into that pattern.
I've begun, too, to collect snippets from newspapers. I used to do this by going through back copies of old newspapers with a pair of scissors. These days, though, I don't seem to have the time for that. Instead, I've been cutting and pasting online stories from The Daily Mirror online, then printing the stories out. At work. A lot more convuluted, but at least it's got me 'researching' everyday life.
Finally, I've begun writing practice again (see Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down The Bones). Writing personal memories, thoughts and feelings, not with publication in mind but with the idea of getting in touch with my unconscious.
I'm feeling a little better.


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