I admit, I’m not a horror movie fan at ALL They don’t give me nightmares, that’d be too easy. I learned lucid dreaming as a teenager, so I can shake off nightmares really easy. Instead, my brain takes whatever the horror movie is, and puts the bad guy/creature in the dark, right outside my window. This led to a couple (hilarious in retrospect) incidents, notably the time I had to watch a horror movie for a fiction and film class.
When it’s for a grade, you can’t tell your teacher you’d prefer something where stuff blows up (my criteria for a good movie, normally). We watched a movie called “Don’t Look Now”, a movie all my classmates derided as being campy, not that creepy, and not gory enough. Our movie nights for class took place in the old main building, which was connected to another building of classrooms and offices, then on the far end, my dorm. As my classmates and I are walking towards the dorm, the halls are empty. Classes had long since ended for the night, and our cackling echoed off the walls into the domes overhead. I was fine.
I went to my room, a single, because I was a senior, and I could afford it. I did my homework, played on the internet, and all was fine. Until the moment I turned off the bedroom light.
I became utterly convinced the little troll murderer at the end of the movie was waiting outside my dorm room window, ready to crash through and kill me. Never mind that it was just a movie. Never mind that my room was on the fourth floor, with a busy, well lit street outside. I became nearly paralyzed with fear, my heart thrumming triple time in my chest.
I managed to flip the light switch back on, with trembling hands. On tip toes, so she couldn’t hear me coming, I grabbed the little plastic stick and opened the blinds, ready to jump back at any moment, reaching as far out to do so as I could.
Of course, there was nothing there. There was no way for anything to be there.
Sometimes, our own minds convince us of the most random things. As writers, we imagine all the time, what could happen. What if? is a favorite game, one I think most writers play almost subconsciously, constantly. The wind chimes in the garden are singing, it’s faeries dancing on the bells. A fly snuck in behind you, it’s an omen of death. As a writer, you see the world differently. Sometimes that’s good, sometimes that’s bad. Sometimes, it just gives you heart palpitations and an unneeded adrenaline rush.
I think it’s good practice though. Getting up in front of large numbers of people can be frightening, but we have to do it. Hitting send on that email to an agent or publisher is the second hardest thing ever, the first being opening the reply. We have to be scared, in order to be brave.