Sometimes it’s Fun to Be Scared

I’ve found myself really getting into the Halloween spirit lately. I checked out a horror novel from the library and have been enjoying reading it, and when I’m finished with that I’ve got the digital edition pf The Exorcist on my Kindle. Most importantly, I’ve been working on writing a scary story that I hope to submit to a magazine sometime in the near future. Yes, it’s safe to say I’ve gone head over heels for spookiness this season. But sometimes, when I talk to people, I feel like I’m in the minority this year.

When I’ve talked to people about Halloween and horror lately, I’ve gotten a lot of comments to the tune of “The world’s so scary now, why make it scarier in fiction?” Indeed, there seems to be a lot of people who’s normally be all about the scares but who just can’t seem to get into the spirit right now. And it’s true: the world really is a scary place, especially recently. I can completely understand why someone would not want to be scared this year, or would be having trouble finding the fun in horror. But, somewhat paradoxically, the scariness of the world has made spooky stories all the more fun for me.

See, part of the thing that makes horror fun, at least the horror that I personally like, is that the scary monsters and ghosts aren’t real. Oh sure, they can stand in as metaphors for real things, but they are still impossible beings that only exist in our imagination. And what I’ve found is the more I’m beings scared by these things, the less scared I am about the state of the world. Horror functions as a kind of escapism for me, allowing me to exchange my real life fears for things that are made up. And this is important, because it helps me keep going.

So if you’re having trouble getting into the Halloween spirit, this is my advice to you: find a spooky movie to watch. Make it one of your favorites. Put it on the TV. Turn the lights off. And just focus on the experience for a while. Tune everything out except for the movie. And, just for a little while, stop focusing on the horrors of real life and allow yourself to be terrified by the illusions on the screen.

Happy Halloween, everybody.