After a long dry spell, I feel like writing fiction again. I wish I didn’t know exactly how long it had been, but I keep a work diary, so I know I haven’t written a lick of fiction since May 3rd, and that was just a few hundred words that didn’t turn into anything. I took the whole damn month of May off to let my batteries recharge and my aquifers refill and other metaphors of replenishment, and now the time has come to invent imaginary people and put them in terrible, terrible peril.
(It’s not like I wasn’t writing. I write a couple thousand words of freelance stuff every week, not to mention heaps of writing for my day job. But fiction is a whole different animal. Different part of my brain, different part of my soul.)
Funny thing is, I seem to have emerged from my slumber with a hankering to write horror. Maybe it’s because my life is beset by uncertainty lately? I dunno, but I went camping this past weekend and spent a lot of time thinking about camping horror stories, from ghost stories told around fires when I was young to Kelly Link’s weirdly funny-but-chilling “Monster” to Friday the 13th movies, and I thought: I want to contribute something to that proud tradition. So I started mulling things over, thinking of cool stuff I could include — newts, banana slugs, pit toilets, sinister park rangers, the inside-a-coffin blackness of two a.m., the weirdos in the campsites nearby, etc. I started thinking of a character, the kind of character who might go camping alone, in the off season, and why, and what he might encounter.
My brain latched onto the idea like a starving bear mauling a honeycomb. Apparently my mind has been dying to chew over a nice fictional scenario and make the bits fit together. You’d think the imagination muscles would go flaccid after being left unexercised for weeks, but apparently my brain has better reserves than my abdominal muscles; I feel awake, invigorated, and profoundly interested in the mental puzzle in a way I haven’t been in a while.
I don’t know if the story will turn out well — I’m going to start writing it after I post this — but this feeling, the putting-things-together, the “Ooh, what if,” the “Wow, can I get away with that?” feeling, it’s one of the main reasons I write. When I’m putting together a story in my head, I feel like I finally remember what I’m doing here on this weird planet full of narrative-loving apex predator apes.