Things that go bump in the night

Growing up, Hallowe’en wasn’t really a thing. Once, before my mum had quite grasped the concept, she answered the door and said ‘Trick’ to the waiting group of kids. I think she was hoping for some close-up magic. Anyway, she fumed when she spotted the Silly String the next day.

I’ll be out later, shepherding the boys on a little tour of the neighbourhood. I enjoy it. We see lots of people we know, only stop at the decorated houses, and of course the boys love getting the (rationed) sweets. It’s all very familiar, a bit of fun and not in the least scary.

As it’s half term, we’ve been out and about, and on one of our trips there was some Hallowe’en storytelling – two ghost stories, one about a miserly farmer and one featuring a hairy toe, which caught the imagination of our six year old so much that he had a nightmare. I couldn’t believe it – the rest of us just thought it was funny. He even told a version of the story to some of our friends the next day.

I suppose it comes down to what we find scary. I tend to have nightmares about falling off precipices, or about the boys doing so, or about something else happening to them – but I hardly ever have nightmares. I watched The Exorcist and enjoyed it, but didn’t find it scary at all.

So when the opportunity came up to write a 100-word Hallowe’en drabble for an ebook, I really wasn’t sure how to go about it. I read some of the darker stories on flash fiction contests, and I don’t know how the writers get there. I don’t do scary.

I sat and thought about what it must be like to be a vampire these days. Not a Twilight kind of vampire, but one who is perhaps a bit long in the tooth (ha!). The sort of vampire who would probably shop in Waitrose if they could. And the result is here, in a Hallowe’en storybook (the fact that something I wrote is now on Amazon is quite scary!). There are scary stories, and funny stories, about vampires and ghosts and all sorts.

And to finish on another scary thing, yesterday I faced a fear. Not a big one – or was it?

I went to my first writers’ group meeting. That isn’t really the scary bit – although I was slightly apprehensive (they turned out to be very nice). The scary bit was that everyone reads out a piece of writing. Not something I’ve ever done.

I knew it was coming. I’d had a think about what I could take with me. As it happened, I had to dash out so I had my iPad with whatever was available on it. One person read, and another, and I thought ‘They make it sound so easy to do!’ Which didn’t help at all.

Round the table we went. It was getting closer. And then it was my turn.

I believe I squeaked out an explanation of why on earth I’d chosen to write about what I’d chosen to write about. And then I started, trying not to gabble.

About half-way in, I calmed down.

Near the end, I felt myself shaking a little bit.

But they actually seemed to like it. I got to the end, nothing terrible happened, and later in the session I read out my writing exercise and felt OK.

Take that, writing demons!

The cover image is Halloween pumpkins in a San Francisco shop, by Zhou Liwei, and is shared via Creative Commons license 2.0

2 thoughts on “Things that go bump in the night

  1. Pingback: Reading aloud | Bitsa

  2. Pingback: Vennsday: the joy of reading (aloud) | Bitsa

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