You know, when I was growing up, I didn’t really read much horror. What few examples I did read encouraged me to have discussions with others about how messed up horror writers were. I mean, clearly to write so many unpleasant things, they must have been dropped on their head as a child or something.
But then I grew up.
And eventually, I wound up at Seton Hill University’s Master of Arts in Writing Popular Fiction and I started meeting actual horror writers. As it turns out, Horror Writers are some of the nicest, most amazing people I’ve ever had the privilege of meeting. My time in my Writing Popular Fiction program was the most wonderful experience of being surrounded by other writers like me. These days, I’m kind of upset that I actually finished my degree because if I hadn’t, I would be able to continue to go there every six months and recharge my writing batteries.
Maybe it’s because horror writers spend all their time pushing out the darkness of their souls through the words on the page and that’s why they tend to be super nice people. Maybe it’s because they just see the world differently and that’s why they write such terrifying and shudder-worthy things. I don’t know. I can only speak for myself, and I’m currently still just an aspiring writer, not a real author.
Here’s what I see and what I know.
This http://americanhorrorwriter.blogspot.com/2012/07/benefit-for-tabby.html was posted today. It’s a moving story about one of the horror writers who has been an inspiration to me and so many others. His publisher has offered to donate all the money made off his collection of short stories to help pay the medical bills for his wife who has an advanced stage of cancer. Almost immediately after posting, I saw sizable numbers of my peers sharing the link on their own facebooks, just as I shared it on mine. The first ones to repost were other horror writers or aspiring horror writers like me.
In a related event, another writer in my peer group asked for help and the vast majority of those that I saw who offered to help were horror writers. It fills me with awe and amazement as to how big-hearted so many of my fellow writers are.
It also sometimes makes me a little annoyed with the misconceptions society seems to generate for people like me. You wouldn’t believe how many people scoff at me when I tell them about Legotopia or that I’m a horror writer. It’s like they give me that one look that says I shouldn’t have grown up and acquired “adult” hobbies. I guess I’m supposed to be a an alcoholic or swoon over celebrities and reality shows or maybe I’m supposed to like fashion and cooking. I don’t know. That stuff never made sense to me.
I decided several years ago when I came back from my first extended research trip that the reason so many people in our society have “issues” these days is because they refuse to admit what makes them genuinely happy. I like writing and building my novel ideas (amongst other things) with my rather extensive Lego collection. I like reading. And I fill my time doing these things because they make me happy.
Of all the categories of stereotyped people, I’d have to say that the horror writers I’ve met have never once scoffed at the way I live my life or at the things that I do in my free time that make me happy. I’ve seen the horror writers I know stand up and be the first to offer assistance to those in need. I’m not ashamed to be a part of that stereotype. In fact, I hope someday to be a true and published member of the horror community.
Maybe horror writers are messed up, but if so, it’s messed up because we’re good people. So think about that before you assume that horror writers are a bunch of weird psychos because they’ll probably surprise you and be some of the most kind, thoughtful, amazing, wonderful people you’ll ever meet.