Thursday, September 17, 2015

Skulls and Pentagrams

I got the news the other day in an email, my short story The Killer Beneath Me is going to be included in the forthcoming anthology titled Along the 46th. It'll be out this fall.
I am beyond excited. Writing has always come easy for me, but getting published seemed like a pipe dream.
Growing up I was always a dreamer. I enjoyed horror fiction and tried to emulate that in my English classes. When the teachers read my stories in the Roman Catholic elementary school I attended they decided I was a delinquent and possibly on drugs. Unbeknownst to me, the principal began searching my locker on a regular basis and saving all the morbid poetry and fiction I wrote. Towards the end of my final year I was called to the office and confronted by an angry and puzzled administrator. On his desk was a stack of loose leaf papers, all the doodles sand drawings and things I had written down for years. He was really pissed off. He wanted answers.
Why did I write the things I did?
I didn't know. Why do people breathe?
When I shrugged my shoulders he grew even more angry and told me one day before I graduated I'd have to answer for all the stories I wrote about murder, the poems about dead things, the skulls and pentagrams I drew, the Slayer song lyrics I copied.
He said something was wrong with me. This wasn't what normal kids did.
I was ashamed and mortified but not because of the fiction I wrote. There was a kick-ass story in that pile on the principals desk about demonic hash-oil that turned everyone who smoked it into brain-eating zombies. There was another one about a degenerate gambler who ducked his debtors only to end up being decapitated by an axe-murdered in an abandoned building. Despite being chastised I was proud of those stories. What bothered me was that in that pile there were personal writings too. Dreams I had. Girls I liked. Things I wrote only for me.
Humiliated and feeling violated I quit writing for years. I kinda believed him. Maybe I wasn't normal. Maybe there was something wrong with me.
I only started writing again in jail, funny little horribly offensive stories to make the other prisoners laugh. I kept writing after I got out, and the story that is going to be published this fall was one of the first I wrote after I was released in 2007. It was almost stream-of-consciousness writing in that everything seemed to just click and it felt not so much like I created it, but more like I channeled it. It was like the story already existed on a wave-length or a frequency and I just happened to be tuned to it and was able to transcribe it on to paper.
I want to thank everyone who encouraged me to write, especially my friend, author and journalist Mick Lowe. I grew up reading his stuff in the Northern Life and the most important thing he taught me through his On the Rock columns was to write the truth that is in your heart, even if it's not popular and pisses people off. He taught me if you write your truth, even if folks vehemently disagree with it, you can make them at least consider how they might feel about a subject if they were in someone else's position.
That's a special thing.

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