- Lots of red pens.
- Highlighters, in a rainbow of color. I’m not surprised that the ones I bought during back to school are all gone. The monsters took them
- Chocolate, again.
- I bought a french press! Just another way to make a copious amount of coffee, which I’ll be needing.
- Some really good sharp cheese, to keep my energy up.
- Some VOD movie vouchers, so I can edit while the monsters watch movies.
- index cards, for when I have to rip my outline apart and start over. Again.
- A pillow for my desk chair. My hard, unyielding, desk chair.
- A playstore gift card for loud music. (It helps me think)
- Asprin, for headaches and wrist aches.
- Lots of trips to the printers, which will also mean lots of stops by the coffee shop.
- A large bottle of red wine, to celebrate finally (hopefully) finishing Broken Patterns!
Why Do We Want Horror Stories?
Now, I’m going to talk about something that has been gone over at great length by Stephen King. I learned a lot about writing and appreciating the horror genre by reading Danse Macabre, On Writing, and the intro to his short story collection, Graveyard Shift. I would highly advise anyone who wants to write horror to read all three. That being said, I’m going to try to say something that Mr. King hasn’t already. Since brevity isn’t his thing, this may be hard.
I am a grown woman. I pay taxes, have a good job, raise two kids and have a loving marriage. All indications that I am a responsible adult who should know better than to do certain stupid things.
But I am also a stupid fourteen year old girl. Here’s an example.
Before I go to sleep every night, I like to lay in bed and read things on Pintrest. I don’t want to get back up after, so I do this in the dark. This is all fine and dandy when I’m reading articles about plot, homeschooling, making pickled eggs, looking at cat pictures, reading comics or being ‘inspired’ by all the lovely quotes.
It becomes a problem when I find a post titled “The Creepiest Chat Session I’ve Ever Seen.” Now, I was actually reading funny posts, so I thought there was a joke at the end. Spoiler, there wasn’t. Now, just to make matters worse, here’s some things you should know about my house.
- I have a dark colored cat, you’ve seen pictures.
- My new house is creaky, and I’m still adjusting to the fact that we are the only ones in the building, so if there are noises in the basement, it’s not our downstairs neighbor.
- The closet in my bedroom has a built in crevice, that has a swinging door. Perfect for Christmas gifts and creatures who want to rip out my guts and show them to me before I die.
- The way my bed is positioned, my head is three feet from said scary ass closet.
And there I am, reading the creepy boards. (If you want to read this post, btw, it’s on my Pintrest board, random.)
Why the hell did I do this to myself? I’m aware that stuff like this keeps me up at night. But I did it anyway. I know I’m not the only one. There’s a reason why “When you see it,” is all over the internet.
So why do we want to scare the hell out of ourselves?
It makes us feel young
When I talked about being scared in the night, I likened myself to a fourteen year old. That’s not an unusual analogy. When we’re kids, everything scares us. There is nothing not scary about being a kid. What’s that spider? Will I die if it bites me? I don’t know, so I should probably stay away. What’s that creaking in the basement? Who is that person walking very close to me? Do they mean me harm? Where’s my dad, I can’t see him in this crowd!
Being scared as a child, until you learn better how to deal with the world around you, makes perfect sense. Scared keeps you safe, after all.
As we get older, though, we aren’t scared so easy. We become jaded. There is nothing that really scares us anymore, because we think we’ve seen it all. Then something scares us, and we feel young again.
Fear goes hand in hand with curiosity
This one is pretty simple. Things that are scary are also fascinating. We want to know about them, because they’re new. Humans have this need to know things we don’t know. It’s something that I, and The Doctor, love about us. Zombies scare us, but they also sort of facinate us. Because it’s something new. We are curious.
Horror stories have heroes
Lots of people die in horror stories. But usually one or two make it out okay. I think that’s really comforting, don’t you? If that chick can get through a whole movie with a chainsaw wielding murderer chasing after her, I can probably get through whatever is going on in my life.
More than that, though, the hero in a horror story is often doing something selfless, something brave and stupid that risks their own lives to save others. Horror story heroes are braver, I think, than other heroes. An adventure hero is usually a marine, or a firefighter, and they’re saving people from natural disasters and bad guys with guns. A horror story hero is usually a regular person who happened to stumble on a nightmare situation, like a mist that spawns terrifying monsters. But there they are, acting all heroic. It’s inspiring. I wouldn’t do it, by the way. If zombies come to my town, I am getting my monsters and getting the hell out of dodge. But it’s still inspiring.
Horror stories reinforce our moralities
A couple weeks ago we talked about the ‘rules for surviving a scary movie,’ as seen on Scream. The later ones varied, but the first movie’s rules were pretty moralistically upstanding. 1. Don’t drink or do drugs, 2. Don’t have sex. 3. Don’t say “I’ll be right back.”
Now, the last one’s just common sense. It’s right there with, ‘don’t ever say what a good thing it is that the weather’s nice,’ and everything else Newton has ever said. But the first two are absolutely based on a moral standpoint that I think we would all like our teenagers to have. It’s a moral code that a lot of people hold themselves to, avoiding ‘vices’ like casual sex and booze. I think that anyone who is working so hard to repress a desire for such things would appreciate seeing those who indulge in them get chainsawed. Horror stories tell us that we are right to stay on this side of the moral line.
Horror stories make us feel better about our lives
Well, maybe this one is just me. But when I watch The Walking Dead, I have a hard time complaining about my day job. I read Misery, and it puts my sad life into focus.
The horror story, basically, is a chance for us to see the real, honest to goodness, worst case scenario. It is never going to be worse than zombies. It’s never going to be worse than a demon house that wants to eat you. It’s never going to be worse than a town full of men who are replacing their wives with machines.
And yet, as I mentioned earlier, the characters of a horror story not only survive their terrifying experiences, they often find a better, braver part of themselves that they didn’t know they had.
In short, as strange as it might sound, horror stories give us hope that in the end, everything is going to be okay. Just so long as we’re the main character, that is.
And so long as you keep your closet door closed, and stick to cat pictures late at night.
A Writers Horror, Depression
Writers are weird. We all know this. We voluntarily lock ourselves in rooms and write made up stuff. We are weird.
Statistically speaking, we are also often depressed.
I found out recently that, in addition to being an introvert, I suffer from depression. That puts me on the list with Stephen King, Mark Twain, JK Rowling, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Sylvia Plath (guess everyone knew that one), and Ann Rice. It probably also puts me on the same list as some of you.
I’m not going to go into signs and symptoms of depression. There are lots of sites for that. If you’re worried that you might be suffering, here is a link to a site that can help.
What I am going to talk about, is what we can do about depression. I also want to talk about what you should do if you’re not depressed, but you have a loved one who is.
What can you do to help yourself if you’re depressed?
- First thing, get help. Find a doctor, get diagnosed, and get the facts right away. I put this off for longer than I should have, telling myself I was just tired. The problem is, just tired turns into I’m always tired. That turns into, maybe I’m just lazy. Then it’s ‘what’s the matter with me? Why can’t I just get it together and handle myself?’ Once I was able to understand that this wasn’t just me being unable to adult properly, I was able to make better, healthier decisions.
- Understand your triggers. For me, I can only stand talking to people face to face for so long. It takes energy away from me. I also can’t stand being alone for too long, or going too long without writing. Seriously, if I go too many days in a row without writing something, it puts me in a very dark place, emotionally. Clutter and mess also do this to me.
- Learn what can help you when you’re already depressed. Like a shower, or a long journal session. I’ve found listing reasons to be happy helps, if I’m not too far gone. I also pin animal videos on Pintrest, because they always make me smile, at least a little bit. Stuffed animals and origami help me, too.
- Learn what long term habits can help you. For instance, I’ve found that if I don’t think I look nice, I’m more likely to get depressed. So I don’t own anything I don’t like how I look in. I am super low maintenance with my make up, but a little grey eyeliner makes me feel better about my face. I also know that I feel light years better if I’ve accomplished something. So I plant little goals in among my big goals, for a boost when I need it. Healthy eating also helps me feel overall happier.
- Do not indulge in depressants when you’re not well. You all know I appreciate a glass of wine in the evening. And while I don’t enjoy the ‘Colorado experience’ myself, I’ll not judge. But I do not have a drink if I’m having a not healthy day, mentally. Because I know it won’t help, and with my family history, can lead to a serious addiction. And do I really need to go into the list of creatives who have died from drug overdoses? No, I bet I don’t.
- Build a support system. My husband is mine, but I’ve got some loving friends that I can call up too. You need people around you who don’t judge, but who can also help you make healthy choices.
- Have a pet. My cat Harper seems to know when I’m having a not good day, and she’s extra cuddly.
- Trust yourself. If you think you should call in sick, do it. If you think you’re feeling overwhelmed and need to exit a situation, do it. If you need to just be alone for awhile, make it happen. If you listen to yourself, you’ll know what you need.
Living with depression is kind of like living with a little bracelet on each wrist, that over the course of the day gets heavier and heavier, until you can’t move your hands or arms at all. Living with depression is like someone suddenly setting off a smoke bomb with no given warning. Living with depression is like someone else has the power to make it a rainy day when before there was nothing but blue skies.
Living with someone who has depression is hard on a whole different level. If you’ve got a spouse or child who suffers from it, here are some things you should keep in mind.
- It’s emotionally hard! Please, consider having a therapist yourself, or risk falling right down the dark hole with us. You know that old adage about putting your own oxygen mask on first? Remember that! Full disclosure, I have depression, but it’s mild. It’s incredibly mild compared to my husband. I spent a long time ignoring my own symptoms, and my own emotional well being, because I wanted to take care of him. That just meant I was in no fit state for anything, and failed him when he needed me the most, because I’d broken down inside mentally.
- Being depressed is like being physically sick. Don’t get mad at us, we can’t help this anymore than someone with the flu can.
- Know the difference between an annoying habit related to depression, and a dangerous one. My annoying depressing habit, spending three hours in the only bathroom in the house, soaking. My dangerous depressing habit, spending money we don’t have on worthless junk that doesn’t even make me happy and just lowers my self worth further, thereby making me feel worse for having wasted my family’s resources. Pick your battles, is what I’m saying.
- Make them go to the doctor when they’re supposed to. Make them take their medicine.
- Don’t take behavior that makes you feel bad. Yes, depression is hard, but there is nothing that excuses abusive behavior, either verbal or physical. Don’t use, ‘she’s depressed,’ as a reason it’s okay for your wife to say hurtful things to you.
Listen, the point is that I want all of you to live long, happy lives creating. I want the same thing for myself. Take care of yourselves. Stay clean, stay healthy. We don’t need anymore creatives to drink themselves to death, or committing suicide.
Finally, here’s a list of writing exercises that can help fight depression.
- Journal every day. It tracks your moods, and can help you see patterns in your behavior.
- List reasons you have to be happy.
- List all the reasons you’re sad, and then try to think of things you can do to fix them.
- Free write, about anything. Maybe, if there’s something that’s really bothering you, it will come out.
- Make a list of things that can make you feel better. Keep it near, for when depression strikes.
- Write about your depression, and if you can, be open about it. You’ll never know if you’re the person to tell another writer that it’s okay to feel this way, and it doesn’t make us bad people.
And that is the lesson I’d like to leave you all with. Depression is not a failing, it’s not a thing that makes us bad or weak. It’s a chemical imbalance, or it’s flat out PTSD from something dark or horrendous that happened to us. Either way, we are not to blame for our depression, and we should not feel ashamed because of it.
Words Change Worlds, The Plight of Rottewilers
As promised, welcome to a new monthly column here on Paper Beats World, called Words Change Worlds.
This column is dedicated to charities and causes that we, as writers, can help with. It’s based on the theory that we can make a difference in our world, as writers.
This month, I’d like to talk to you about dogs. Pitbulls and rottweilers to be specific.
I’m sure you’ve heard the stories, and know something of the controversy. Rotties and pits are thought to be vicious dogs far more likely to bite and injure people.
But it isn’t true. The truth of the matter is much darker than that. The truth is that this myth of the dangerous dog breed has lead to countless cases of death and abuse for these dogs.
In the past, rotties and pits were bred to be guard dogs, much like german shepherds. The shepherd, however, has obtained a great reputation. Recently, pitts have been used in cage fighting, banned in 13 states, and generally treated as a dangerous breed.
What these dogs need are advocats. They need people to say a dog is a dog, and it is the owners and breeders who train them to attack who should be punished. They need to be treated with love.
The plight of pit bulls and rottweilers is dark. In addition to being banned in many states, owning one of those dogs can be dangerous for the owners.
- Owning a pit or rottie can raise your homeowners insurance.
- You are more likely to be in danger of a lawsuit when you own a pit bull.
- You will run the risk of your dog being accused of attacks. And if your dog does bark, or become territorial about your yard, you are very likely to lose your pet, even if no one was harmed.
- In many cases, owning a pit or a rottie will limit the places you have to live. It’s already to the point where owning a cat or dog can greatly restrict your rental options. Even pet friendly places might not be keen on these breeds.
Oh, and let’s not forget the worst case scenarios for these animals. Most shelters who still have kill policies will prioritize the breeds they kill, and remove the pits and rotties first. Now, I have mixed feelings about kill or no kill shelters to start with. But when you throw in killing an animal for its breed, I have no mixed feeling at all. It’s just wrong.
Of course, being humanely put down is preferable to being tossed into a gage being forced to fight each other. Let’s not forget that the whole image of the vicious breed is promoted by illegal fighting rings.
So what can you do, to help protect the pits and rotties? Here’s some things you can do.
- If you live in a state that bans pit bulls and rottweilers, write to your congressman and representatives.
- Write your local ASPCA, encouraging them to ban the killing of pit bulls and rottweilers.
- If you can, please post something on your own blog about the plight of pit bulls and rottweilers. They need us.
I hope that you’ve enjoyed this first issue of Words Change Worlds. If you have any suggestions for charities or causes that you’d like to see spotlighted, let me know at nicolecluttrell86@Gmail.com