Don’t Fight What You Write
When I was growing up my mother fed me on a diet of Stephen King and fairytales, both of which are riddled with angst and darkness. The really good ones contain just the right amount of both. As much as I loved those fairytales at the time, I thought I wanted to be a horror writer.
The first full-length novel I wrote back in 1991 was supposed to be horror. As I developed the plot and cast of characters, which were an ancient coven of vampires living in Scranton, PA, I realized it was more dark fantasy than horror.
I was disappointed in myself when I reached the finish line because it wasn’t as horrific and gruesome as I thought it should be. With a twist of angsty romance entwined with dark fantasy elements, I suppose today it would be neatly tucked into the Paranormal Romance genre, but at the time I thought it was rubbish.
As I got older, I continued to fight with myself about writing horror. Why couldn’t I just sit down and write a bloody, horrific tale that left even me scared to sleep at night? The harder I tried to write horror, the more frustrated I got. I started more stories than I ever finished, which just served to push my frustration to the limits.
I stopped writing for about a year. Just walked away from it completely and started to question what I always wanted: to be a writer.
That summer a good friend of mine sent me a package in the mail: Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. Urban fantasy at its best, just like Gaiman’s Sandman (which I devoured as a teen,) it was riddled with both horror and fantasy elements, and a little voice inside of me said, “Yes! Yes, this is what you should be writing.”
When I sat down and gave in to the urges I felt to write dark fantasy, the words poured out of me. I was finishing projects again, both short stories and novella/novel-length works, and it was a beautiful thing.
I wonder sometimes how many other writers struggle with those same frustrations. Being a fan of both horror and fantasy, of course I want to write both, but for a long time I didn’t believe I could. It had to be one or the other, and when I struggled against the desire to blend them together no words came out at all.
Maybe you’re like me. Maybe you’re teetering on the edge trying to figure out where your words fit in, but before you dig your shoehorn out of the closet and start wedging yourself into something you don’t feel completely comfortable with, step back. Look at what you love, what makes you feel comfortable as a writer, and then write it. If you want to write a zombie romance novel or a cowboys in faerie land, why not? Maybe, just maybe you’ll feel really satisfied, and who knows, you may even come up with something no one’s ever thought of before.
Author Bio: Jennifer Hudock, an author, podcaster and freelance editor from Pennsylvania. Her first full-length novel, The Goblin Market, is currently available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords. For more information about Jennifer Hudock, including updates on upcoming fiction, visit her official website: The Inner Bean.