Drawn to the Dark and Creepy

DSC_0634When I was a younger smart-alek, I used to flippantly tell my mom in response to her fears for my safety, “I’m growing up in the house of Chicken Little.”

In case you never heard of Chicken Little, he was the star of his own story: a little chicken who was… chicken. Everything was a potentially disastrous situation, and he was chock full of fear and foreboding. The one refrain he repeated was “The sky is falling!” which has since moved into common culture.

I would chirp that phrase when my every planned move was met with a rundown of all the disasters that could befall me.

Me: “I want to walk up to the store.”

Mom’s face stretches into a mask of horror: “Not by yourself! Some pervert could force you into his van and no one would ever know what happened to you. You should go with a friend.”

Me: “I am going with a friend.”

Mom: “Just you and your friend? Why, they snatch up girls walking together, too. Didn’t you hear about…”

Or, it could be something like a truck’s failed brakes just as I’m crossing the intersection that could carry me out of this world, or some other hypothetical situation. But guaranteed, the scenarios were always grim. Of course, there was truth in these fears, and I’ll give some latitude here. It’s not until you have a kid or become close to your tiny relatives that you really understand–in vivid, nightmarish detail–just how dangerous the world can become in a nano-blink.

My mom inherited her chicken-little thinking from her mom–a serious pro at it. Whenever we told Grandma about an upcoming vacation we had planned, she would ask where to. No matter where we were headed, she would inevitably say, “I just heard on the news…” and then fill in the blank with some catastrophe or strange happening. Tsunamis in Dubuque, Iowa. Forest fires in Daytona Beach. Mountain lion attacks in Charleston, South Carolina. UFO sightings in Dismal Swamp.

I’m not sure what radio station she listened to for news, but it was with a cloud that we’d leave on vacation, knowing Grandma wouldn’t rest easy until our return.

So, I was raised on a diet of the potentially dark and creepy. Because let’s face it, underneath our veneer of civilization and social interconnectedness, there’s a web of the stuff to ensnare us if we’re not careful.

If you have a leaning toward the dark and creepy, please visit a collaborative project I’m involved in at www.waterfrontwriters.com. Our Two Weeks to Rites is featured, and we try to post a chapter a week. We’ll continue to do so, unless of course the UFO’s from Dismal Swamp snatch us up for special alien scientific testing…

Writerly Collaboration

Image courtesy of Evgeni Dinev / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Evgeni Dinev / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I enjoy spending time with people, talking and sharing ideas, laughing, being outdoors, EATING, drinking wine or brew… but by nature, I’m more the lone wolf. My grandmother taught me as a little person how to entertain myself. I have enough reading materials to keep me busy a couple of lifetimes, and enough writing ideas… well, best not to jinx it.

When it comes to writing down those ideas, the words come in fits and starts, like a water faucet pulling from a near-dry well in an abandoned cabin. Maybe it’s because my day job requires that I write, that by the time I get around to “my” writing, my brain is in “hibernate” mode.

So it has been a twist to my worldview to discover that, collaborating with another writer on a story, I don’t have the fit-and-start thing going on… it’s more of a we-struck-oil gusher that I have to curb so I don’t dominate the storyline. Maybe there isn’t as much pressure having a writing partner.

For one, if you get stuck, they can get down into the weeds of a story with you and give that nudge to get you moving. Second, if you lose the thread of continuity, you have a second set of eyes to find it. Third, there’s a fair measure of accountability going on, because when I get the draft to work on, I know my writing partner is waiting… so I don’t have the luxury of trite, cliché or even wildly-creative excuse-making.

I enjoy collaborating, and our latest installment of our shared effort Two Weeks to Rites, which so far has been a blast, is now posted. Go to: http://waterfrontwriters.com/

Thanks for stopping by for a visit! Back to my wolf den…

Two Weeks to Rites: Story Origins

Writers are often asked where they get their ideas. Actually, no one has ever asked me that – but I’ve had many very nice offers to write various individuals’ stories because their lives have been so interesting. I aspire to be the person who tells a writer that I’m so interesting, my life absolutely must be written about. With a straight face. However, with proper editing and generous flights of fancy, we’re all interesting, right?

But I digress…

Tomorrow is the release of the web series, Two Weeks to Rites, I am working on with my writing-partner-in-crime Sandra R. Campbell. The idea for our series has its origins in a seemingly innocuous picture: we were taking photos to put on our new site, and we noticed something odd in the picture taken of me. (Something odder than just me.) It looked like a copse of dark woods was just behind me. But, when the same area was viewed in real-time with our eyeballs, it was just a couple of skinny trees. They didn’t even have enough girth to cast a shadow.

And so, our story was born. Whether these “dark woods” will figure into our story or not, you’ll have to wait and see. There have been many twists and turns the tale has taken, and I have to say that it has been an exciting writer’s journey so far.

So if this were Aesop’s fables, I’d have to make sure I underscore the lesson: keep your eyes open, and remember to also occasionally squint to gain a different perspective, because you never know what you’ll see.

Please join us tomorrow, www.waterfrontwriters.com, for the release of the first chapter of our series.

Thanks for stopping by!