Monday, September 27, 2010

In Which I Waste An Extraordinary Amount of My Time and Yours

I blog a lot. Don't feel the need to keep up with me, LOL! Especially as, today, I am putting off two things I should really, really be doing. First, I had a short story rejected, but I feel strongly about the concept, and so I researched other markets and found one I desire mightily to be published in. They have a word limit that is 1,000 words less than the original version of my story. Well, good, says I. I believe in editing, and I gaily took to it this morning. I had cut six hundred words and was very pleased with the work up to that point, feeling that I had, indeed, bettered the story. Then I reached the last third, where the coming climax should fill one with mounting dread and "OMG, what is going to happen!!!" and instead is one big muddled mess. While the story could have used a bit of streamlining, this is surely why it was rejected. And I was stumped. I've laid magnificent groundwork, but done nothing good at all with it. And as of right now, I am still without an answer. WHAT should happen, exactly? I mean, I sort of know. But not really. Damn it.

So I put that off, as I usually do when I'm really stumped. Coming back with a fresh perspective, that sort of thing (even though the deadline for this particular publication is in four days). And I decided -- deep breath -- to start the novel I've been outlining in my mind. Another day, I'll go into the reasons why this scares me to death, but for now, just know that I have an opening, I have some good stuff, and I felt suddenly compelled to stop, as I was gripped with fear. I attempted to allay this by going over to OneWord, then reading a bit more of Wesley Stace's Misfortune (thank you again, Jo!), then making tea, then wandering around the yard with the dogs, then needing to stare into fridge for no reason at all, and finally... Here I am. Blogging. And for once, I've got nothing really to say. I am just, really, filling space and time while I try to convince myself I am a writer and a fine one and I can fucking do this.

So, in the pursuit of filling more time, and because the season is upon us and it's my favorite one of all, a Halloween true story about egotistic serial killers and dead creepy musicians. And vampire bats.


A long time ago, I was really into being scared. I watched every manner of gore-soaked film with my sister, and at Halloween, we'd go to as many haunted houses as we could. We mostly went to commercial ones with people in costumes, but we also looked up houses that were purportedly truly haunted. One year, we went to see Ed and Lorraine Warren speak, a terrifying experience (I believe Ed is dead now, though Lorraine is probably still kicking).

In New England, there was a masterpiece of a haunted house up in Massachusetts (we lived in CT). It was supposed to be worth the two hour drive, so we took along our 13 yr old step-brother, Mike, and drove up. Possibly because the mischievous spirit of the season overcame us, we stopped at a McDonald's halfway there and climbed over the fence into the children's play area, where, in the dark, we climbed through the tunnels and jumped in the ball pit and did not, surprisingly, get stuck anywhere. No one found us, and in the dark, it was great fun. We then finished our drive, and yes, this place was magnificent.

It had a haunted barn, haunted hayride, exhibits and food vendors. We parked way out in a field and walked up. While we waited in line for the haunted barn, the centerpiece of the place, Tiny Tim serenaded us from stage. Sad to think he's dead now, and I always associate him with Poe, for some reason. Inside the barn, you first got to go through a winding hall of props from various horror movies, including a life-size Alien and Freddy's clothes and razor glove. Then the tour started, and we were to go through in groups of five or six. Teri and I were prepared to be scared shitless, and I don't remember much about the actual tour, except for this: Mike was the only male in our group, and he had five women clinging to him. He loved it. And when the end was in sight, down a wide, long corridor with the gift shop at the end, Teri and I broke free of him, but still grabbed each other's arm as we ran as if the very Devil himself was after us, screaming like banshees.

This is a basic rule of haunted houses: If they know you're scared, they (the actors) will focus on you and devote themselves to you. The worst are the ones that simply follow you, but so closely that you can hear/feel them breathing on your neck. Teri and I always had people following us, and not just within their scene, but into the next scene/room. Once, all the way to our car.

Outside, we fell in love with a display of vampire bats. To this day, we both love bats. Beautiful, beautiful creatures. And then we went and stood in line for the main attraction that night: the actor who originally played Jason in the first movie (and maybe two more? I used to know all these facts) was there, signing autographs on cheap plastic hockey masks that you could buy for $5. I'm going to be honest here and say that my limited amount of contact with celebrities over the years has not led to a favorable impression of their ilk. In this case, we both bounded up when our turn in line came, both presented our masks for signing, but this guy had eyes for only my sister. She was, and is, quite beautiful. She's a tall stunner with unbelievable legs, and as unlike me as possible. Still, the jerk was so into making small talk with her that I couldn't get my mask signed, and as the handlers finally tried to usher us away, I got exceptionally peeved and pointed out that I hadn't got my mask signed yet. He did a basic scribble, not even looking at me, and said goodbye to my sister -- by name. *sigh*

Eh, it didn't really matter. She was excited, so I was excited by default, and we imagined her becoming Mrs. Jason and leading a life of riches and fame. And then we ate caramel apples and Mike got his face painted like a devil and we went home -- the hayride had closed. And Tiny Tim was gone, the stage silent and black, and we filtered back into the night, giddy and happy.

That was a very good Halloween, probably the last one I spent with my sister. I've moved, we've both grown up, but we still love the holiday. She's going to Salem, Mass. with some girlfriends soon. Wish I could go too!


All right. I've officially wasted a lot of time, and now the clock is ticking until B gets home, and I should probably have dinner ready. Wait. Maybe there's something new on Twitter? ;)


  1. As it so happens, I had some time to kill (even though I HATE that expression), and I always enjoy reading your blogs... even when you're just rambling,lol.

    About the story that was rejected: If the original premise was good, perhaps you need to just trash the whole thing and start over? I find that when I'm drawing something, sometimes the reference pic is a good one, but somehow the drawing I do sucks in some way that would be impossible/difficult to correct. So I throw it away and come back to it with fresh eyes, and invariably do a much better job. However. Sometimes it STILL doesn't work, and I have to concede that perhaps on some level, I either don't care for the subject matter enough to do it over, or the reference pic is too complicated an angle for me to capture at my skill level. In THAT case, I think it's important to know when to walk away and do something I REALLY like doing and do well, because a situation like that can make me feel unsure of myself, which is a bad place for an artist to be.

    I've always wondered why the actors at those things never followed ME around. No doubt it's the cynical smirk and my scarier-than-thou attitude, lol. Now if there was some sort of waiver one had to sign, saying that there was a one in one hundred chance that you could be harmed in some way... yeah, THEN I'd be scared shitless. In fact, I probably would stay the hell home, lol! But I don't think they're even allowed to TOUCH you. Where's the fun in THAT?

  2. About the story that was rejected: If the original premise was good, perhaps you need to just trash the whole thing and start over?

    That's sort of what I've done right now. The set-up is great, with little details that could come together with a bang, if I just knew exactly how. So I'm keeping the basic premise of the story, but it will go an entirely different direction. Someday.

    Sometimes, situations such as this do make me feel unsure of myself, and question my skill level. But I've been learning through the rejection and then further editing process that A. Some ideas just suck, LOL! and B. It's okay, if the idea doesn't suck, to tear it up and do it completely over.

    It sometimes feels like, if I can't get it right on the first try, then I'm terrible. And I'm learning that is not the case.

    Re: Haunted Houses. Oh, I'm absolutely positive that's why you never got followed! I've talked to people who work at them, and they all say the same thing: If someone is scared, they'll try to scare them even more. If someone looks as if they are not impressed (which I'm sure is your exact expression, LOL!), they won't bother, because the person is more likely to scoff in their faces, and that doesn't look well to everyone else. It makes the people who are scared remember that it's all fake. Can't have that!

    And yes, they are never allowed to touch you. But they can stand very, very close...

  3. Yes, you CAN "fucking do it"! And well, at that.

    I loved your memory share!!!! Thanks for that!!! *sigh* Halloween.... I worked in one of those places while in college. The Haunted Forest. One of the highlights was sitting in the woods waiting to scare people, and some guy came over and started to pee in the grass right next to me. Nice. Heh heh heh... he'll never do that again.

  4. Ch. 1 is in the bag! I'm not stopping to think about it! Just going forward!

    Was the Haunted Forest where you had a special meeting with a man in a kilt?

    I've always thought it would be fun to be on that side of the show, but never had the chance. Who knows? Maybe I will one year! It's got to be fun scaring the bejeezus out of people, right?

  5. Whoop whoop! Glad to hear you have started your chapters! It's about time I say!

    I decorated the house for Halloween. And it's not even October. I LOVE THIS HOLIDAY! Loved your story too... didn't know you had a stepbro named Mike, so that was my 'learned something new today'.