Namo amitabha Buddhaya, y'all.
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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

It Knows What Scares You

Meters swum today: 1900 (go me!)
Playing in the background: The soft sounds of evening (and the occasional train horn)

I've managed to scare the sheep out of myself. This should not come as a big surprise to those of you who know of my penchant for horror movies, fast driving, loose women and roller coasters. Well, just horror movies and roller coasters. Okay, honestly, just horror movies. (And the latest recommendation in that pantheon is: The Uninvited, marketed as a supernatural horror flick but really a twisty suspense/murder mystery/thriller with a BIG SECRET at the end that explodes like a --no, I better not say anything else. Go rent it, it's awesome.)

What happened is that I wrote something that scared me. Not only scared me but physically repulsed me to the point where I want to climb into my brain, find whatever hole it crawled out of, nail that sucker shut and tape it up with that red duct tape that kept the ghosts out in Kairo. This is all Roland's fault (I like to blame things on Roland; he is, after all, the bad guy. Or is he? Hm.) When I wrote Mindbender I included something called the Infamous Cigarette Scene (and if I ever get this silly thing published, you'll get to read it, so hey, send your literary agent friends my way, willya?).

I remember the exact day, the exact hour and even what I was wearing when I wrote the Infamous Cigarette Scene. I was doing laundry in a seedy apartment building in San Diego. I remember that because I had to walk out of my apartment and down to the laundry room to swap stuff in and out of the washer/dryer, and so one minute I'd be writing this thing (darkness, gloom, horror, whatever) and the next minute I'd be outside (sunlight, birds singing, frisbees flying through the air in the nearby park, whatever). And I was horrified and disgusted and so on, and wondered what the hell kind of person could even come up with this sort of stuff and so on, and was I that kind of person and so on, but I got over it. Kind of.

Then I had to go and write two sequels to the silly thing. Which pretty much guaranteed that Roland would have to, sooner or later, come up with something to equal or surpass the Infamous Cigarette Scene. Boy, does he ever. And once again I'm wondering what the hell kind of person could even come up with this stuff and so on, and once again, I'm gonna find that hole in my brain and...

The truth is, I write about things that scare me quite a bit. Politicians scare me. Religious fanatics (of any religion) scare me. Tornado sirens scare me. "Y'all're gonna need to replace that there engine, honey" scares me. But they don't really scare me, if you get my meaning. They're all scary to one respect or another but I didn't actually create them, did I? Set them loose in the world and all that? No. To write about something is, on some level, to make it possible. Even if we're talking fictional characters in a fictional country (filling in for El Salvador, in this case), we're still talking about something I came up with. That means I'm capable of coming up with something like this and why in hell is that?

I'm a nice person. I'm a Buddhist, fer cryin' out loud. I grew up in a nice middle class home with nice parents and I have a nice sweetie and a nice career (when I'm not unemployed, that is.) Apart from a brief period in my life when I was, oh, thirteen or fourteen, and some later karate lessons, I've never been in a fight. So what went so horribly wrong with the growth of my cerebral cortex, that I can write stuff like this? And why do I know so much about stuff like this? Not so much all the horrible things that people can do to each other but the way they're thinking while they're at it, what they're feeling, and more important, how they can convince themselves (usually without a lot of trouble) that this is the right thing to do. Was it all those "Gilligan's Island" reruns? Cyclamates? Stephen King novels? Too many horror movies when I was a kid? Nah. No such thing as too many horror movies.

Just incidentally, my love for horror films does not include slasher flicks like "My Bloody Valentine" and movies that focus on interesting ways to dissect a living human, like "Saw." Not only is that kind of stuff just gross, it's not scary. It's gotta be supernatural to scare me. Or it's gotta be Roland. Roland scares me plenty. What really scares me about the guy, though, is that he's me. At least on some level.

Maybe I'm working out a past life issue here. Maybe I used to be the Blood Countess or Caligula or something. Knowing me, though, it's more likely I was a fluffy bunny, a conscientious objector or an obedient housewife. I'm still more or less convinced I was a crafty trilobyte during the Pleistocine. If I ever do find that hole in my brain, though, I won't really be able to nail it shut. If I nail it shut, all the words will disappear. The good things and the scary things and the scarily good things and the things I don't even know are good or bad, they all crawl out of the same damn hole.

Hey, in case you want your inanity 24/7 in sound bites of 160 characters at a time instead of however often I update this thing, I'm on Twitter now. You can follow me here.

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