Little wonder we stumble in life.

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The Ghost Story vs The Supernatural

Today in class we focused on ghost stories and the supernatural; and during the portion of the class dedicated to ghost stories, most people in class had some story to tell about hearing voices, dogs reacting to sounds, minor mysteries and the sort. The whole time, I was repressing a story of the night I spent in a haunted house and the gate that wouldn’t open, because I mean, that’s not a ghost story. Freak accidents aren’t ghost stories, at least not to me. There are no ghosts involved in what’s happening here, and there was a rational explanation for every single one.

But then the teacher said, that in writing ghost stories, you cannot rationalise anything you are writing about. The second you do, the story loses its essence and becomes real; that is, it loses its believability.

But the thing is, none of these stories were believable, at all. So when the teacher asked if ghost stories had any place in the modern world, I shook my head and answered with an emphatic ‘no‘.

But that isn’t to say it hasn’t been successfully done. Supernatural, for example, or Ghostbusters. These are both popular fictionalisations of that kind of world, and the world is constructed well enough to be believable. So obviously it can be done. What I think I meant is, I can’t do it. I rationalise things constantly; if I didn’t, I’d think I was a moron and would probably hate myself. So I personally couldn’t write a ghost story.

But then we come to the supernatural, and here is where things change a bit. Because while I don’t believe in either the supernatural or ghost stories in real life, the supernatural is more believable on a fictional plane. Perhaps because practically speaking, the supernatural requires a lot more than just psychological moronic impressions to prove. Yes, the creation of impressions over the rational is probably still required, but not as much.

In Supernatural, although I remain a skeptic reluctant to accept  things like that salt can get rid of spirits, when it comes to the world of angels and demons, that is constructed more intricately, so I can believe it more. That’s the sort of thing I mean.

So in saying that I couldn’t write a ghost story, but I could probably write a fantasy or supernatural story, what I mean is that I could better believe in a fantasy world containing both the impressions of reality and the mechanics of it, rather than just a world of lucidity alone. That’s the kind of story I strive for.


Trifecta – Light

He switched on the light. It flared for a moment then flashed off.

“Dammit,” he swore.

“Seth,” she said, “leave it alone.”

“I want to look at you. This isn’t something to talk about in the dark.”

“We are in the dark, though. All of us.”

He frowned. She had to stare to be sure.

“You can see me just fine here,” she said. “Say what you have to say.”

“I have nothing to say.”

“Oh, come off it,” she snapped. “Out with it!”

But instead of talking, he turned around stalked up the stairs.

“Hey!” she called. “I’m not done with you.”

“Well, I’m done with you! Have been for a while.”

“You pansy,” she cried, “you bloody wuss. Man up and talk to me!”

He turned and glared at her. “Did you really just say that?”

“Yeah,” she dared, “yeah, I did. And I meant it. You men, you’re all just –”

“What?” he said, “Just what? Go on!”

“Scared of women! Deep down, you’re all scared because you don’t believe in your own bravado! You’ll never admit it, but I can see right through you.”

He switched the light on as he moved into the next room. As she followed him, he pulled out what she had been looking for.

“Oh, Seth…”

Tale for Trifecta

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Can a woman be a likable success?

It was highlighted on Modern Family once. Women who are successful are often seen as unlikable. They’ve even said it about Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

And I’ve always said, “I’d much rather be successful than liked.” After all, it’s true. But thanks to this article, I’ve also come to the realisation that being liked is something that I care about too. The reason I’ve always said that, though, is because I wish I didn’t.

I’ve never been liked. Not when I was growing up, not to the people around me. And I would bet that, even though my life has gotten better since then, it’s still something that rings true. It’s still something that undoubtedly happens, and it’s still a fear of mine enough that, like Daniel Koeker has recently said, I run from things like bad reviews and negative feedback.

Not just in writing, either. In my opinions. Which I can feel the need to express inside. I can be embarrassed easily.

And I do this partially because I’ve read that it’s something good writers do; even though it may seem childish to run from one bad review, it’s ultimately better for your health not to seek out those bad reviews. This, from what I’ve read from a writer who saw one bad review of something he’d written in the paper amongst good reviews…

I took all this in because it comforted me. I’ve always told myself I need to grow a thicker skin, but the fact that I could avoid bad reviews if I wanted, without guilt, eased my mind greatly. And I’ve always said anything that eases my mind is needed; my mind can be pretty uptight. If it’s too much, I’m afraid I’ll crack.

It was also comforting when Daniel Koeker said that criticism to a writer doesn’t have to roll of their back… I don’t necessarily have to work too hard on growing a thick skin. That helps.

The thing is, as a writer, likability goes hand in hand with success. At least in that arena, a woman can be both. After all, I consider JK Rowling to be likable. As do I find her series.

And I know that’s something, because looking back on how I think of my parents, I consider my mom to be a nag… and yet a compulsion to listen to my father. Hell, for years I wanted him to be my favourite parent. But our relationship just wasn’t like that.

Hell only knows why I think that way. Or why anyone else does, for that matter.

So, even with my issues, there’s one thing. If she can do it, why not me? (And yes, I’m paraphrasing Harry Potter when he was teaching Dumbledore’s Army there.)


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The Ivan Project, #66

“Whatever problems you have, it’s not from me!” he cried, pinning her against the window of the bus, and she could feel tears floating to the surface. She squeezed her eyes tight against the pain of her feelings and let her tears flow, despite being a public place.

“I don’t know why… I’m so fucking scared! I’ve… always been like this… I don’t know. Even before you. I’m just a… scared little bitch.” She finally broke down. After being victimised by him. After her long ago humiliation…

She confided in the one person she had. Even if he was a bastard. “Why am I so scared?”

He pressed his lips against hers. “I can help you with that.”

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The Ivan Project, #59

Too many times she wondered if she was being transparent, if they could see right through her to the haunted child within. Haunted by her own father’s bigotry and violence, the fear for her life.

It was a cruel world. If there was any justice, her father would be in jail and she would be free to be herself. But there wasn’t, and never could be.

His crimes had been on the news. Even his trial had been. Her mother had done a good job keeping her away from the cameras. But she was always watching, always knowing.

It wasn’t by nature, but she was convincing in her hatred for gay people, anything to keep herself safe.

If he ever saw through her, she was as good as dead. That’s all he’d see in her, anyway.

So she was the fly on wall. She was used to it.