I have a terrible confession to make.
Most of my Yeah, Write entries have been not just funsies flash, but, I’ve been experimenting on your readers.
This has been a little bit of a long long con.
I’ve long held the theory that a lot of what makes us not read particular genres isn’t necessarily subject matter or levels of say gore or terror but, in how it is presented. I’ve known people who refuse REFUSE to read anything that looks even pulpy or horrory or romancey because EW I don’t read those genres.
My experiment has involved presenting the reader, you- a thing that is either snugly or loosely genre fiction.
I have given you noir, fabulism, horror, quiet horror, slipstream, Non Western style literary fiction etc.
This week for yeah, Write I presented Lovecrafty fiction. Specifically, it was the quietest of Nyalathotep stories. Folks liked it. A friend of mine asked if it was from my archive of ideas for short scripts.
I was trying to satisfy both the literary reader, the quiet horror and on another level the Lovecraft nerd.
Here is what I did.
One of the hallmarks of Lovecraft (racism and fuckery aside) is the language he used and the names of things. Working from both memory and some resources like this website, I took some of his favorite words and used them in modern contexts:
The Gibbering Loon.
Somewhere deep inside his antediluvian self,
The next Lovecrafty clue was in how I referred to the mysterious Vivian.
When he lifts his face to look into her eyes, he sees, he sees the secrets of the Sleeping, Dreaming Gods and the black notice of the Outer Gods.
References Lovecraft fans know well.
I also decided to make her unmistakably Black. I have had an ambition to use Blackness in these Lovecrafty stories in a way that heals that particular wound for my inner baby nerd.
And Vivian herself tells us who she is:
“See inside me, I am the Crawling Chaos. I am reborn. Be mine, Detective St. Pierre.”
We Lovecraft dorks know what the Crawling Chaos is without having to invoke the name Nyarlathotep.
What interests me more, is that folks who I know aren’t necessarily Lovecraft dorks, got the terror.
Folks from Yeah, Write and some others I’ve spoken to have not totally understood, but y’all understand without the need for the genre restrictions that might make your eye as a reader skip it because, horror.
I have always believed that how we’re presented with things matters deeply, perhaps more deeply than a lot of folks like to think of themselves, as to how we take in and appreciate a thing.
As a reader, this is just human nature. I don’t think it is good or bad, it just is. And we can recognize it and make the decision to do something else. Read POC, do the year of no cis hetero White male authors.
As a creator, I’ve found that because this is where I live. In these inbetween places. In a place where I just write the shit. Trying to squirm around the constraints of genre work, has played a huge role in my development as a writer.
On one hand it does make it harder to get published sometimes.
On the other, I get to engage in Quiet Horror and sneak into your brain or your bed and live there for a bit.
Ultimately, as an artist the latter is far more satisfying to me personally.
It feels better for longer when someone says, I was thinking about this thing you made for three days.
I also get the satisfaction of representing what I’d like to read.
I get to fully plumb the depths of my own brain without worry or feeling like because I am writing X genre, I must do X thing.
I’m considering my experiment to be successful.
I am writing what the fuck I want to write.
Sometimes I have readers who feel it.
Sometimes I have readers who are like, I don’t know what the fuck is happening, but I’me with it.
I’m into it.
So now that you know what I’ve been doing, I hope you come back to see where else I go.
Thank you for helping me get to this place, I’m eternally changed and grateful.
I was going to do a shout out list, but it got too long. Y’all know who you are.