Horror writers are an odd bunch, as are all writers and all artists for that matter. We are self-absorbed. We appear moody and introspective when looking from the outside in, though this is often just the creative process at work. We get excited over unusual things. We fail to notice the things that excite others while we are lost in our own thoughts. "Thinking" is an actual activity for us that we schedule time for. Research can mean anything from walking through the mall, driving around town, chatting with a friend, reading a book, magazine, or newspaper, watching a movie, a documentary, a reality TV show, or an episode of CSI, aimlessly surfing the net, posting on messageboards, or watching a porno movie (maybe that's just me?) We are not being ridiculous when we buy ten new books a month when we know we can only read. We are just being writers. We will read them someday and if we don't we will sell it on ebay.
We writers do a lot of staring. This is work too. We stare at empty pages, empty computer screens, the same newspaper article we've stared at a hundred times, the same book we've read a dozen times, the same rejection slip, acceptance letter, critic's review, messageboard comment. You stare at the back of our heads while our faces are buried in our work. Yes, we know you are waiting for us to say something. No, we are not done working yet.
We can be detached from reality. We can suddenly be struck by inspiration at the oddest and most inopportune moments and have to dash to the nearest computer or pen and paper to scribble off some note or write an entire chapter when we are already late for an appointment. We are sometimes too tired from being up all night writing to go out anywhere or do anything yet we still do it again the next night when we should be catching up on our sleep because the Muse will not let us rest. It is not that you are less important than our writing. We are slaves to our inspiration. We can't wait until after dinner to write that paragraph of description, or that amazing piece of dialogue, or that plot twist, that just came to us as we were passing the mac and cheese to junior.
The Muse is a domineering bitch. Understand that she has us by our short hairs. We want to listen to you talk about your day, but sometimes her voice is louder. We want to lay in bed and cuddle with you all day like we did the weekend before, but this weekend she won't let us leave the computer. We want to eat dinner at the table like a normal human being, or watch your favorite TV show with you like we do every wednesday night, or go for a walk in the park, but she is threatening to pull the plug on the inspiration if we don't write exactly what she tells us to right this instant and keep writing until she is finished saying what she has to say, and we've had writer's block for a month and can't afford to let the Muse get away from us now. Yes, we know it is kind of weird and pretentious to refer to creative inspiration as The Muse as if it were an actual sentient being. No, we won't stop doing it. She won't let us.
Writers relish their "otherness". Most of us have been weird all of our lives. In school we were just weird. Now we are artists. Our weirdness is expected and encouraged. It is the climate in which the Muse thrives. Freaks like us turn her on. We don't care if your friends think we're creepy. Yes, we know we haven't shaved since we started writing the novel and no, we don't care. Yes, we really do think that no one understand us and yes we realize that angst is no longer fashionable or sexy when you're thirty. Our friends still think its cool to be anti. Yes, we realize that you can't raise a family off five cents a word. Yes, we realize that the hundred and fifty dollar check we are jumping up and down about is less than minimum wage if we broke it down hourly between the research, the rough draft, and the countless edits. We are still going to frame it. Yes, we know that this POD novel is not going to make us rich. No, you can't buy it at Barnes and Nobles. Yes, we are still proud of it. Yes, we realize that the letter from Cemetery Dance we are so excited about is a rejection letter. "But it's from Cemetery Dance! Don't you get it?" Yes, we realize that you don't. No, we can't make it make any sense to you. That would make you as weird as we are.
Writers define work differently than others. Thinking is work. Bullshitting in a chatroom with other writers, publishers, and editors is work even if we aren't talking about anything that has to do with writing. When we are telling each other dirty jokes we are working. When we are arguing about politics on a messageboard we are working. When we are surfing through CNN, MSN, Rotten.com, SmokingGun.com, HangingBitches.com, and every horror related site on the web we are working. Don't look through our list of favorite places on the web. It is scarier than what we write. Yes, that character in the short story we're working on who get's his eyes torn out is your uncle. No, we don't like your uncle. Yes, the character we killed on page three is our ex-girlfriend. Yes, she's still alive in real life. No, this serial killer novel is not autobiographical. Yes, we know that you are scared that our friends, relatives, and neighbors will read something we've written and boycott us. No, we can't write about more pleasant things. No we can't at least give that zombie story a happier ending. No, we can't at least take out the sex and the bad language.
Loving us means accepting all of this odd behavior. Those bizarre mood changes when we write as we slip from one character's mindset to the next in an effort to capture that character's personality and motivation so that we can author his next move. We talk about our characters as if they actually exist. We hate some of them and love others. Some characters we even hate to write about, but we do because we have to. We are not dangerously insane. We are not sociopaths just because the first thought to enter our minds when something tragic happens is what a great story it would make. We are not morbid because we laugh at the scary parts in horror movies. We just get it. Stay with us long enough and you'll get it too.
Loving us means accepting what you cannot understand. You will not understand everything about us. Your sanity puts you at a disadvantage. You don't have to understand us in order to love us. Yes, we are selfish when we get a story in our heads. Yes, we sometimes take our loved ones for granted and put our writing before them. Yes, we are sorry. We will work on it. We still love you.