I think part of the reason I put off getting back into writing was because I was scared. I worried what people would think. Not so much whether or not it was any good, but the subject matter and the language. I gravitate toward the dark side, and my stories tend to show that in a big way. I pictured friends and family reading my work and thinking, ‘But he seemed so nice!’
Two things happened that helped me get over it and stop worrying. The first was something I read on author Chuck Palahniuk‘s awesome website, where he used to have a terrific section for writers (it has since moved here). I’m paraphrasing slightly, but it basically said: Don’t underestimate your readers. They’ve seen it all before, and they can handle whatever you can dish out, so don’t hold anything back.
That was incredibly reassuring, because I actually was considering toning down certain aspects of my novella. That got me to reconsider.
The second thing that happened was that a friend of mine passed away. Michael Louis Calvillo (or as I knew him, just Mike) was an author – not an aspiring writer like me, but an actual published author. He was incredibly proficient, and anyone who enjoys horror fiction should do themselves a favor and check out his work. I had already started writing again before he passed, and I had read some of his work. It was crazy. I mean that in the best possible way. In terms of imagination and creativity, it was light years ahead of what I was (and still am) doing. Off the charts.
When he died, I went on facebook to write a short post about him, and one of the things I wrote was, “he was never afraid to let his freak flag fly.” After I posted it, I thought about that. He was the nicest guy you could ever meet, and he wrote some of the weirdest, goriest, bat-shit crazy stuff I’ve ever read. Why? Because that’s just who he was.
And that’s when I decided it was time to write for me, no one else. I took all my insecurities, threw them in a pile, poured gas on them and lit them on fire. So whether a publisher gives me a deal or I have to go the self publishing route, if you read my work you can count on one thing: It’s going to be at least a little bit weird. Just like me.