I’ve really been enjoying my time with my WordPress site, and reading other blogs and the like. When I wake up I scroll through the mobile apps feed, reading things and looking for new people to follow. The only problem is that for some reason, it won’t let me like posts half the time. It’ll just freeze as soon as I hit ‘like.’ So that’s a bit frustrating. I usually catch back up when I’m on my computer and can follow things then, but it’s something I’m not always great at remembering.
What I’m absolutely horrible at remembering is that I actually have a Twitter account. I understand how it works and why it’s appealing, but I have trouble thinking of what the hell to write there. I want to use it more, but now it exists pretty much to echo my Facebook group updates when I have a new blog post out. I’ve been trying to figure out why I forget about it when I like to update this as often as I can (for those who remember my goal to update M-W-F, and realize it’s Tuesday, don’t tell anyone.) But when I update here, I write stories or editorials or even what are basically diary posts. 140 characters is hard for me to put any content into.
That’s not a criticism of Twitter in any sense of the word, but I think my own limitations and preferences as a writer. 2 Sentence Horror Stories are fun to write, but the more I write them, the more clichéd and boring they become. I’ve seen some people do amazing work in the form, but mine end up becoming ‘X is something innocuous. Y is a twist that changes X.’ Again, not a criticism of the form, but something I struggle breaking out of.
Writing is about cutting and avoiding purple prose, but Twitter takes it to the most extreme form. Because of that, I feel like I can only use it as a promotional tool since I feel kind of self-centered talking about small events in my day (he says, as he writes an in-depth essay about his inability to Tweet.) I end up feeling guilty that I’d be using it too often, or on things so mundane that followers would just get annoyed. I have a Facebook where my friends and family have to listen to that crap, I don’t want to expose it on the world.
So! How or do you writers use it? Any secrets on content, or am I just being too critical on what I may end up putting out? Or do you use it mainly for promotion or social stuff or what? I joined it because people looked at me funny when I said I never had a Twitter account, and now that I do I have no idea what to use it for.
So, now that I’m writing again I figure that I need deadlines to keep myself from being lazy.
This keeps me moving, and also gives you an idea of when I actually might post something.
I will always have a post, unless noted, on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
Monday and Wednesday? Wild cards. Who knows what I’ll post! Maybe the status of my novel, problems I’ve run into writing, topical and personal things. Stuff like that.
Friday will be henceforth known as Frightening Friday. A new short horror story, or thoughts on horror, every week. I was thinking of calling it Freaky Friday, but I didn’t want to mislead anyone who hopes that it’s about my in progress fan fiction where I wackily switch bodies with Jamie Lee Curtis while I have quarter life crisis.
Now, I’m still going to update more than that probably, but those are at least for sure days. I’ll fill the rest of the week with selfies of me making various duck faces, in front of food I’m about to eat.
So, that’s that! Thanks for reading, I will try to not forget about my new schedule between today and tomorrow. That would be embarrassing.
It’s been like this all day and I really have no idea what to do. My wife is standing next to me, as puzzled and frightened as I am. She’s clutching the flashlight like it’s a holy relic. I’m holding the axe so tight that I can already feel callouses forming on my palms. I haven’t taken a swing yet, because, well we don’t know what to do.
Working on some projects but should have a for-real-big-boy update in the next day or so, so thanks for holding in there. I didn’t just want to come on here to be all like ‘oh it has been two days they might be worried, better reassure my fans.’ But instead to tout a post I found awesome. I found it through the WordPress ‘Freshly Pressed’ section so others may have read it already, but wanted to re-link it.
One of the groups I’ve been following closely in addition to other writer’s and other interesting people, are editors. It has been greatly helpful to see what the common complaints are on their end, and the advice they give to improve an author’s chance of getting accepted. Most of them are also funny as hell and come across as charming, so that helps swing my assessment a bit.
I’m going to re-link this blog post I read today which is an awesome no-bullshit look at what not to do during the creation of a novel. Maybe I like it because it’s one of those ‘knowing the mechanics of writing is great, but you also have to be good at the story part too’ kind of vibe. It helps validate my ‘focus on story instead of rules’ attitude. So I’m linking it, because I don’t know how WordPress works for someone else’s site views if you re-blog them. Does it just count on mine? Do they still get credit? I want the traffic to go to the original source. I have no idea what happens, so I figure the safest thing is to post a link.
It’s becoming more and more apparent that the Internet may be changing the way we read. People are starting to just scan text for key words and very easily digestible information instead of taking the time to let content sink in. As a writer with a love of short form written horror, this is my worst nightmare. Horror needs build up! Tension! Actual consumption of atmospheric words and not just scanning for ‘blood’ or ‘incomprehensible!’ How can I compete with that? Well, I took a look around the Internet and figured I’d give it a shot. Fuck it.
So now that I’ve spent my last 5 entries or so being self-indulgent, I figure I’ll wrap it up with this one for a bit and move back to regular stuff. I accomplished my New Years Resolutions (I’m not gloating, it was the easy stuff I went after,) and I want to come up with a list of Writing Resolutions. Things that I want to follow through on, and do more of. I have a list resembling this somewhere lost on my hard drive, so if I put it up on the Internet I’ll not only be able to find it, but also be shamed into forcing myself to follow my promises. Now, I wish I had the discipline to write a list like this and follow it to the letter, but I really don’t. As such, this will be more of a general guideline. A mission statement. If you have any suggestions as well, feel free to let me know!
Disclaimer: This post deals with depression and can be a bit of an emotional downer compared to my other pieces. I’ve written about this before, however I feel it’s important to talk about it as much as possible to help remove the stigma associated with mental illness. As compensation, I have included a picture of sleepy Bailey at the top of the post. Thanks for reading. -Chris
‘and I’m so terrified of no one else but me’
Emotions are a funny thing. I’ve been suffering from depression for the last two years now and each day just feels like just a step at a time. For a long time I’ll be fine, just peachy and normal and happy and laughing, I’ll think that everything is starting to be okay. Then something great will happen. For instance, today I was just published for the first time. Other times it will be a great night out with Karen, or seeing some friends for the first time in a long time, or simply enough just a wonderful day where nothing goes wrong.
My mom had probably the strangest experience in the house. I had been a sickly child, getting ear infections and strep throat often. The first year of my life I suffered from horrible seizures that luckily went away with time.
When I was just able to start making coherent sentences, I came down with an extremely bad flu and a horribly high temperature. My father was away for the weekend on a business trip to Atlanta, where the corporation he worked for held most of their meetings. She was trying everything in the book to get my temperature down, but the fever wouldn’t break.
I generally think of myself as a rational person. In one of my stories I wrote about how the character was so tired he was seeing things darting in and out of his vision. This happened to me while finalizing a 40 page paper in college that was due at 9am. It was currently 5am. As I typed furiously on my laptop, I would see small fuzzy black shapes appear to run across the doorway in front of me, back and forth. I know that was my brain reacting to being up as long as I had been by then, in addition to how much effort I was putting in to my rushed paper.
One of the things I’ve been asked by readers, as a courtesy so that I can feel like a real writer, is how I come up with my story ideas. The truth of the matter is that my inspiration comes from no single source. I primarily write short-form horror, which as a genre is easy to get an idea for, but a tough balancing act not to be incomprehensible or cheesy. I write short form horror because I’m still developing the skills to keep the scary thing scary in a novel-length story. Story seeds come from trying to imagine a story that’s built around something that’s scary to me, such as forgotten places, unknown creatures, and intimacy.
I like my horror like I like my women: supernatural with dashes of mystery here and there. I enjoy writing about strange, possibly one-off creatures, who have very ambiguous goals, and a slowly developing rule set. Many times a picture will spark an idea. As an example, take a look at my “The Map’s: The Deer story.”
Floating around on the internet is an eerie picture taken by a hunting camera, the kind that hunters stick on trees along game path to see if it has actually been active or not. The picture is the result of grainy, infrared lit night vision. The image perfectly captures a moment when two bucks are fighting, right square in the middle of the picture. They’re about to lock horns and have both reared back on their hind legs giving the impression that they’re dancing with each other. Since the shot is lit by infrared lighting, the two deer are lit as if in a spotlight, while just enough light is able to reach the rest of the woods behind them. A group of about a dozen deer are watching the fight, but all that we can see are just pairs of shining eyes in the background. There’s also a random body part of a couple of the deer in the background that gave me the feeling like they were slowly closing in around the viewer for having seen something they shouldn’t.
My tween self’s experiences was also partially a factor. My father has always been an avid hiker and camper, and had no qualms about navigating the forest behind our house in the dark. I decided that I was going to be tough too, to be one with nature and the night! I tried to think of the best way to prove it. My course of action inevitably became: walk to the creek about 75 feet behind our house without a flashlight. Then I could tell the ladies of my bravery and get all of the dates to the movies I wanted so long as my mom was willing to drive.
I put on my finest surplus Army camo jacket and pants, because of the ‘One with the night!’ thing. I figured that dressing up as Arnold Schwarzenegger from Predator would, by the transitive property, also make me tougher. I also put on my old Vietnam jungle boots I used for hiking (which were so old and battered we had to re-glue the soles back on about 3 times by this point,) and grabbed a knife to put on my belt.
I wouldn’t take a flashlight, oh no, but I would take a camping knife to defend myself. This is because the disconnect between my stupid kid bravery and actual bravery was pretty high, and I hadn’t been introduced to the idea of cognitive dissonance yet. I waited until 10 pm, sliding the door open and slipping into the inky blackness of the forest that hovered over the back deck.
Now, the knife wasn’t for murderers or slashers or anything like that. That doesn’t scare me, and even then it took extremely well done slasher movies to keep me frightened. Oh no, the knife was for my imagination. I had images of strange supernatural creatures waiting in the trees to pluck my plump little self from the ground for an easy snack. But, jokes on them, because I have my knife! I’m not gonna go out like that, damnit! Taken out by the low-rent monster clearly waiting in the wings, who’s supernatural weakness is getting stabbed a bunch.
The first steps were the hardest, but once I was in the woods my eyes adjusted to what little moonlight filtered through the trees. I could see about twenty feet around me relatively clearly. With such a short distance to close, I began to feel cocky. Practically strutting to the creek, I made it about 10 feet to the edge before I heard it.
A deep, loud, single grunt.
It was about 20 feet in front of me, across the tiny creek. Then I heard movement in the underbrush, something making a hell of a racket.
I investigated further, stealthily crawling thro- Ha, no I ran like hell. I ran up that small hill so fast I’m pretty sure my jungle boot started tearing itself apart again. Breathless (I was not the smallest or fittest of children), I ran to my father and explained what happened. He listened intently while trying to suppress a smile. When I finished trying to convince him to arm the neighborhood with pitchforks and torches he began openly laughing.
“It was a deer. You startled a deer. They make a loud grunting noise as a warning that a predator is in the area. Things like that.”
I might have ran like a wuss at the first strange noise, but I felt pretty good. I was able to sneak up to a deer without even knowing it, AND it viewed me as a predator. Pretty good for a 12 year old.
A big credit to my lifelong love of horror does go to my dad (who took that picture up there.) For my current writing project he told me to use any of his spooky outdoor pictures I wanted, which has been extremely awesome. He started getting into amateur photography as I started to get into writing. It’s been great watching his photography skills improve while my own skills have gone from: writing crappy fiction for only myself to read, to writing my slightly less crappy fiction that I’ve gotten malicious enough to inflict on the internet. He has a passion for the outdoors that he shared with me, and that clearly reflects in my writing.
My dad has a huge supply of horror genre paperback novels, more than even the local library. I was practically raised on Stephen King and a multitude of less prolific, though still scary, horror writers. We watched some horror film staples together, like The Birds, The Shining, and The Stand miniseries. Even Phantoms, which as we all know, Ben Affleck was the bomb in. Older movies like the original 13 Ghosts set me on course to get into ghost stories and prompted my ghost hunter phase in high school. So, I just have to say, thanks Dad.
You’re still an asshole for hiding that giant Halloween mannequin in my room that scared the shit out of me, though. I haven’t forgotten that one, Old Man.
Thoughts, horror, and short stories from Chris Burcham, published freelance author and all around scoundrel.