Archive for October, 2008

hauntings

October 13, 2008

   I am haunted by stories that want to be told, that want me to tell them, that want to be heard, that want a writer to help them have their say. 

 

   I am haunted by characters that want me to describe them, observe them, record them, show, not tell, how they lived and why they made the choices they did and give a glimpse of what they might have been.

 

   I am haunted by words that dance just out of sight.  I know just the right word, but it won’t come when I need it.  Three hours later, there it is, grinning and hopping in plain view.

 

   I am haunted by plots that might work, if only I could figure out the missing pieces, plots that imply they are plausible, but they lie, they lie!

 

   I am haunted by endings – it could be this, or that, or something else – but what SHOULD it be?  “Let the characters tell you” – but they suddenly join a mime troupe and leave en masse.  Pesky protagonists!

 

   I am haunted by peer reviewers who cried “trite, trod ground, showing, not telling” and my own fear of failure.

 

   I am haunted by authors and teachers and readers and by the muse herself.  I want to please. 

 

   Like a child resisting going to sleep, I beg, “Just one more story…”

 

 

By Kerry Vincent © 2008

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Scary Story

October 13, 2008

   The ghosts have gathered.  It is their time of year, Halloween soon approaching.  In truth, the ghosts are always here.  But they become more active when more people believe.  Or should I say more people are willing to suspend their disbelief when nights grow cold and stories grow scary and we wonder about the things we cannot explain, things that go bump in the night.

 

   Like white-gowned spectors, old guilt drifts out into the open, dressed up like ghosts.  We call them unsettled spirits, someone who suffered and died.  Confederate prisoners are said to haunt Hopp Hollow Road in Alton, Illinois, where I live, begging strangers for a decent burial, then vanishing again in the shadows.  The lights flicker in a downtown Walgreens drugstore – is it the electricity, or spirits of those slain in a pioneer massacre almost 200 years ago?   

 

   I appreciate an explanation for something I do not know, but not just any story will do.  I reserve my right to exercise critical thinking.  And, as Rilke said, I have “learned to love the questions themselves”.  I enjoy the chill of a spooky story, but they don’t scare me (much):  the logical, rational side of me keeps interrupting.  My inner skeptic is quite active. 

 

   Anyway, all I have to do, if I want to hear something truly frightening, is turn on the news.  That’s where the real monsters are.

 

 

 

Kerry Vincent © 2008