I don’t write horror stories. Sure, I’ve written dark stories, but nothing I think anyone would consider horror. Recently my writing group, Hopefull Monsters, had a long discussion aimed at trying to define horror: What it is, and more importantly to me as a writer, what makes it tick?
That discussion spurred me to finish the draft of a story I had started several months ago, but abandoned because it wasn’t quite working and the subject matter disturbed me. It’s not a horror story per se, but it is horrific—terrible things happen to people, with terrible consequences. Now the story is bothering me. I woke up the other night, thinking about it. I might have been dreaming about it; I’m not sure. It’s stuck in my consciousness, like a rusty nail.
I think the story bothers me because I’m left wondering from what dark corner of my mind did it come. Why would I even think of such a thing? I told my wife about the story, and she gave me that sidelong glance usually reserved for leftovers gone bad. Unlike when I have talked about other stories, she just said (to paraphrase), “That’s messed up.”
Does that mean I have a good story on my hands? It’s not a good story yet, but I think it has real potential. It needs the usual revisions—it is a first draft afterall—but I’m not sure I want to work on it, at least not at this time. Maybe after I’ve gotten some distance from it…had a chance to think about where it came from…what it means…. Hmmm, it might be a while.