Sometimes you really just feel like giving up.  It’s worse than writer’s block, worse than being distracted by the vicissitudes of life and falling into a rut of not writing every day.  It’s like an undertow you cannot escape, a moment when you literally feel you are dead in the water.

I’ve been feeling that way lately, despite my blooming midsummer garden and my love for this season.

It’s a dichotomy that threatens to shut me down.  You think, why bother?  It’s just too hard.  I can’t keep putting myself through this.  And so on and on, wah, wah, kick, scream, and avoid the writing in favor of yard work, which actually makes me feel content.  (But ah, Reader, there is nothing, but nothing, that can compare to the feeling of flying that you experience when the work of writing is going well.)

TDSOT convent next doorA friend told me recently that she’d seen a trailer for some upcoming horror flick she could not remember the name of, something about the supernatural that put her in mind of my very own novel, THE DARK SIDE OF TIME.  I was flattered.

Yesterday I happened upon an article in the NY Daily News by Ethan Sacks, in which he discusses the falling out of favor of slasher films and torture porn.  He points to a new preference for a more subtle serving of dread, along the lines of ROSEMARY’S BABY and THE EXORCIST.  And he leads with the buzz around a haunted house thriller opening this Friday, THE CONJURING.

Natch, I had to have a peek at the trailer.  I knew immediately that it was the trailer my friend had seen, because not only is it a classic haunted house story like THE DARK SIDE OF TIME, but for God’s sake it looks like they shot it in my own damn basement!basement 009

I had Vic take a look at it.  He laughed because it so does look like our own damn basement, even to the prop-esque old chair tucked under the stairs.  Then he refused to watch any more because he may want to see the movie.  I find it ironic that I myself do not; it would scare me too much.

I was scaring myself for a year as I wrote TDSOT.  That didn’t bother me.  In fact, it delighted me, though I jumped at the slightest sound while I loaded a wash.  In the basement.  Near the crawl space.  (No rush like that one, when the characters come to life off the page and scare the shit out of you.)basement 008

But I want to scare other people as well.  Is that too much to ask?

I do take some comfort in the words of the accomplished non-fiction writer, Alec Wilkinson, who gave us such an insightful interview for our doc, RANDOM LUNACY.  I told him that my novel was literary fiction, a mystery, a ghost story and a brooding look at our troubled world.  I was inspired, I told him, by the work of the late great Shirley Jackson (THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE and much, much more).  “Jackson is very fine,” Alec said.  “And there will always be a market for your genre.”

Vic implied the same.  “Let’s see if THE CONJURING makes any money.  Because that’s the only factor that counts.”

I’ll buy that.  Guess I won’t fold ’em quite yet.





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  1. Kris says:

    Remember when you recently wrote you didn’t think you’d ever write another blog? Yet here it is: Another authentic, well-written piece about the pain and pleasure of it all – writing, work…what matters.

    No, we must never say never. And yes, let’s see if THE CONJURING makes any dough. (Love the basement pix = very atmospheric indeed.)

  2. Stephanie Silber says:

    Thanks as ever, Kris. I do remember. I guess the big lesson is that in fact we never do quite learn how to have the faith and keep it close. Today: the longest blog ever posted — another excerpt from TDSOT, inspired by the fact that the basement in THE CONJURING trailer appeared to have been shot here. The scene with the medium and the reality show crew. I confess it made me laugh out loud as I RE-TYPED the whole excerpt, fearing formatting nightmares if I cut and pasted. Somehow during the process a new short story idea tapped me on the shoulder. All in all, a good day’s work.

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