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Onset of Autumn

September 17, 2012

I have no trouble finding time to write. What I can’t do is find energy to write.

Sure, I could tuck in a paragraph on my lunch break, scribble something down as I’m getting ready in the morning, squeeze in a note before dinner, but the truth is, I’m tired. I don’t get enough sleep, I work hard and long, and when I go home in the evening, my mind is too awake to sleep and too exhausted to do anything. It’s like grad school all over again—without the crippling depression and monthly panic attacks.

I have, however, joined a new, local writing group consisting of a few classmates who enjoyed Phil Athan’s class on writing science fiction and fantasy that I’ve described enough times; I’m sure you’re sick of hearing it. But the writing group’s new, and that’s exciting. I set up a forum for it, which makes me feel Important. Yes, capital I. I’ve submitted two short stories to the group. The second is still awaiting feedback (to take place in our session this Thursday.) The first, however, got some of the best feedback on a story I’ve ever had. Far more helpful than my old writing group. I finally feel like I have direction.

Blah blah blah personal journal woe is me such is my life yay I’m writing everybody care.

In other news, I recently finished a book, Halloween Horrors: Spine-Tingling Stories for the Scariest Night of the Year. I figured, “Horror short stories? My favorite holiday? It was made for me!” And it really was. I could tell by
Halloween Horrors Book

the glossy cat’s eyes that shine brightly on a dull, matte background. It called to me. It summoned me.

I mean, Ray Bradbury? Poppy Z. Brite? Dean Koontz? Peter Straub? Ramsey Campbell?!

It was all right.

I mean, it was worth a read. It wasn’t life-changing. I’ve read better horror collections. This one was interesting because it also included a series of “My Favorite Halloween Memory” that offered small glimpses into the lives of famous horror writers (and, in some cases, the origin of their love for darkness.) It was less interesting for the random articles interspersed that would have been worth a read had they not been so unexpected, and the random story about the ghosts of aborted children haunting a surgeon (political much? No, thank you.)

But after reading Halloween story after Halloween story, there was something that I noticed. Over and over, I encountered stories that started with, or otherwise included, the same general description: a chill in the air, a brisk wind, the smell of autumn, fields of pumpkins, colored leaves evacuating skeletal trees, creeping fog, etc., etc. Truthfully, it only grew old because I was reading so many similar descriptions back to back.

There’s something about autumn. That’s where the magic is, isn’t it? Those visuals. The Halloween decorations and trick or treat costumes get plastered over the holiday like a layer of icing but the cake, the cake itself, is the season. It’s the haunting beauty of fall. Horror writers with a love for Halloween look past all of that crap, or through it, or into it, and see what’s truly beneath it all, what frightens and inspires us all at the same time.

Christmas is a magical holiday in its own way (if you celebrate it, which I do, despite being an atheist—what a hypocrite I am!) but the soulful magic of autumn is very different from the peaceful magic of winter, as it’s different from the hopeful magic of spring and the playful magic of summer.

In autumn, I just want to write all the time. Everything inspires me. Well, not everything. I’ve never been partial to plastic vampire faces and goofy monster decorations and fake skeleton bones. I love the harvest decorations, the darker, more natural decor. Spooky is good, too. I love hay rides and apple cider and pumpkin fields. I love the feel of autumn, the taste of autumn.

Autumn reminds me that I love to write.

Find something that reminds you.

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