Friday, April 18, 2008

Finding My Humanity

Horror writing wears on an author. If one looks at what one is writing--really looks--it is disturbing. In something I am working on now, a short story called "The Innocents", a woman commits suicide by stepping in front of a truck. The scene is described in a manner meant to shock the reader and to pave the way for a series of supernatural events. However, when I reread the scene, I stop and think about it in real terms and become depressed by the tragedy it represents.

Sitting in a horror film can have the same effect. The fantasy element drops away and instead of suspense, one identifies with the suffering and feels a sense of weightiness. This is someone's child. This is someone's friend. I know, I know...we aren't supposed to question what we are witnessing. It's an abstract, a plot device.

While we all have a curiousity about the morbid, it's human nature after all, it still is there. Thank God for catharsis in a horror film---if it comes. But even then, what is represented by the violence and the horror remains, like a film, on one's psyche. And we aren't talking just about horror, think about the films you've seen over the past year or two, and the television shows. Even in the comedies.

Maybe I'm being too sensitive. But occasionally, just occasionally, I have to stop and reconnect with reality and the true emotions, remembering that the misery of one often has a ripple effect on the many, and that the horrific is not necessarily something to be celebrated.


spyscribbler said...

I don't have the stomach for horror I used to. A part of me loves it still, but I find it difficult to watch and read because of this. Still, staring it right in the face has a way of making me realize our world and my own life isn't as horrifying as it feels, sometimes.

I don't know. I think feelings like this make me want to be gentle with my characters, but we can't. Somehow, horror and looking at and vicariously living tragedy through entertainment are an important part of how we deal with the world.

Maybe it's like dreaming. We need the dreams to process our life, or else we go crazy.

Sidney said...

I worked a good while on a project that kind of died on the vine in the '90s, but it was about a serial killer, and the research on that gave me some nightmares.

SQT said...

I can't watch dramas. I always joke that I like fluff entertainment-- you know, the old saw that I get enough drama in my real life. But it's true.

I find I connect too strongly with dramas and they can really wring me out. And don't even get me started on when the subject involves children.

Fab said...

This is why I have difficulties watchin horror. I identify too much. My classmates and now my colleagues rave on Saw and Hostel and what not, but it is too close to reality to enjoy for me. And I do know that movies aren't real, books aren't real... well deuh, but it just sets me to thinking. About all the attrocities man puts on another.

Travis said...

It's odd that I would come across this post today. I've been reading a bit in a book today that dealt with the arrest and questioning of a female character caught in a conspiracy.

Even thought it was only fiction, and even thought the character was clearly guilty, I still felt that there must be some way for her to be spared the humiliation, and possibly the torture, that was coming.

Charles Gramlich said...

I watched the Saints season last year. Now that was pretty horrific.

But I grok what you are saying. I have this problem myself, which is why many of my victims are actually surrogates of myself. We always hurt the one we love, or hate.

Jon said...

I avoid horror/splatter films and stories.
I have too many ugly pictures in my mind already...I don't want new ones.