06 December 2011

[Guest Post] Fiction Fears

This guest post has been written by Lara Schiffbauer, who writes contemporary fantasy and general fiction. She has garnered some publishing success, strangely enough, in the genre of horror. By day she works as a school social worker in an elementary school, and at night juggles writing, playing with her two adorable little boys, and doing everything else that has to get done in a day. She'd love to have you visit her blog at motivationforcreation.blogspot.com or to get to know her twitter style at @LASbauer.

The human imagination is amazing. Nigel Thomas, PhD, philosopher, cognitive scientist, and historian of science and psychology wrote a fabulous definition of imagination. It’s a tad medical, but I particularly like the last line. “Imagination is what makes our sensory experience meaningful… It also produces mental imagery, visual and otherwise, which is what makes it possible for us to think outside the confines of our present perceptual reality, to consider memories of the past and possibilities for the future, and to weigh alternatives against one another. Thus, imagination makes possible all our thinking about what is, what has been, and, perhaps most important, what might be.”


Can Berkol @ http://photographyforsoul.com/


It is our imagination that gives meaning to our experience. We need our imagination to re-experience our past, and to decide our personal future. Not only that, but our imagination works the same way when we write. It allows us to call upon our past experiences and weave them into alternate realities also known as stories.

I have a great story idea involving aliens. I don’t really have a specific type of alien in mind, but since the aliens are the bad guys, they probably resemble the “Greys” from Whitley Strieber’s Communion.

I think it’s safe to say I have a phobia of those little guys. I don’t know why, other than when I was six-ish years old, I watched alien shows on the television, and they definitely scared me. For a really long time, I wasn’t able to watch Close Encounters of the Third Kind without having an anxiety attack, especially at the scene when the aliens take the little boy. When I was a teenager, an uncle hinted that I may have been abducted some time in my past. I think he was trying to scare me. He succeeded, and I think made my phobia worse.

When I started writing several years ago, I hadn’t seen a whole bunch of stories about aliens in the contemporary world, so I thought I’d give writing an alien short story a try. I figured that since I can now watch Close Encounters of the Third Kind without needing a paper bag to breath into, and even like the aliens at the end of the movie, I’d be fine.

Nope.

I tried twice to write two different short stories. I started with one where the aliens come for a visit, and ended up freaking myself out enough that when my husband went out of town, I pushed a chair against the door so that if anyone (thing!) came in, I could at least hear it coming. I also let the dog sleep in the bedroom with me.

Feeling extremely foolish, I thought that maybe my absurd reaction was because I wrote about the actual aliens. Determined to not give in to fear, I decided to attempt another story about a man who had been abducted, but wouldn’t necessarily write about the aliens. I ended up with nightmares where I was being abducted. Thus ended my attempts at writing about aliens.

The nice thing is that I know I’m not alone. Just last night on twitter, I read a tweet from a woman who was writing on her work in progress that has a demon in it, and when she heard a noise in the dark, got scared and had to check it out.

Most writers have super-active imaginations, which is what makes us great story tellers. It is an amazing gift, but also a potential curse when we delve into those darker emotions and memories. In order to be the best story teller I can be, I will take the bad with the good. And in the interest of my personal mental health, I’ll stay away from writing stories about aliens.

How about you? Have you ever scared yourself with your writing, or drudged up emotions you preferred to leave locked away?

6 comments:

  1. I had a dream that was like a story, a scary story about a weird creature thing that does terrible deeds to people it encounters. It was very detailed. It scared the shit out of me. I have been trying to recreate the dream as a story, I do get scared when I am really in the moment with it. Writing is magic. Also, I too have the hugest fear of aliens.

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  2. I scared myself when I was writing a scene where the main character is kidnapped, and put in a basement. It freaked me out since I could imagine what horrors it had.

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  3. Thanks Lacy and WolfDreamer for your comments! It always makes me feel better to know I am not alone in my foibles! I don't know what it is about aliens for me, but it's interesting they have the same effect on you, Lacy. Writing is magic, for sure.

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  4. I don't scare myself literally, but I do scare myself when the post is done and I actually like what is written!

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  5. I loved this post, and I'm too tired to make a long comment at the moment, but I couldn't leave without saying nothing :-)

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  6. I totally understand, mamawolfe! I get a bit of a scare when I push the "publish" button, too!

    Thanks Amberr - I'm glad you enjoyed the post. I kind of like the picture, although it freaked out my two little boys!

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