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Horror is kind of silly when you think about it.

October is normally my favorite month, but this year it feels like a total loss.  As evidence, I submit the fact that I've only watched three horror movies and I've eaten almost no candy.  What a gyp.

It's a month that fills me with a sense of foreboding that typically translates to my writing.  That, too, has fallen by the wayside as of late.  (I'll continue to blame my kids and my day job.  Some day I'll take responsibility for my actions, but not today.) Leaving aside this October, what usually happens is I gorge on fun-sized Take 5s and creep myself out with a few movies, and then I go running to my computer and go, "Ooh, this time I'll be a horror writer!"

And while this month I may have excuses instead of that fun, inspired feeling, the sad truth is that the output has been about the same either way. I had decades to work with before I had kids and I never got a solid horror story under my belt.

It's not for lack of trying.  I've got horror premises out the ass and at least half a dozen incomplete books in the genre.  The challenge for me is simply that I stop getting scared of what I'm writing about.

Like, yeah, monsters that lay eggs in your stomach which grow into little homunculi and take over your brain sounds scary at first.  But then I start thinking through the logistics so I can be sure I'm not just spouting a bunch of nonsense by Chapter 12.  And once I've explained it so thoroughly to myself, there's nothing to be afraid of.

"Why are you getting so upset by your stomach monster, guy?  It's just entering the pupal stage.  Here, look at it under a microscope - isn't life beautiful?"

Whenever I face a challenge in real life, my instinct is to deflect away from my vulnerabilities with sarcasm until I can learn enough about the topic that I feel confident to take it on.  I'm not sure how good a coping strategy that is when it comes to my interpersonal relationships, but let me tell ya - it's utter crap when it comes to writing.  You simply can't tell a story well if you can't make yourself vulnerable, and horror requires vulnerability more than any other genre.

I admire writers who can get themselves there.  Actors, too.  It never ceases to amaze me when I'm watching a horror flick and I see something that genuinely feels like terror.  Later on, I'll be thinking about what it was probably like to be on that set.  Like, if you're the actress who has to scream her head off while an alien is trying to eat your head, you're probably dealing with the ass smell of rubber prosthetics, the heat from the lights, the grousing from some union guy who busted his hand, and the queasiness in your gut from the sandwiches that were left on the craft services table all day.  From your perspective, there's nothing scary about it at all.  And yet you got to that point, and now that I'm watching with chocolate-stained fingers on October 30th, I'm enthralled.  How does that happen?

I wish I could get there.  I think the next time I try to write a horror story, I'll have to do it in two-pages bursts at three in the morning just to keep the hairs on my neck standing.  The moment I get cozy, I'll end up putting in a joke about ballsacks or something.