Possessed by Demons?!

I recently finished reading Malice House by Megan Shepherd, which, as you can probably tell from the title, was a horror novel.* One of its main themes was how writers and artists can get very involved in their work, to the point where it almost seems to come alive. In the back matter, the author stated that she was inspired to write the novel because of that strange sensation one gets while writing fiction: sometimes it seems almost like another entity takes over and does the writing for the author, like an out-of-body experience, akin to communing with a powerful outside force.

Back when I wrote fiction, that used to happen to me. It was like I was no longer in the real world but in the world of the novel I was writing, just observing the characters and recording what I saw. Often, when I read my old writing, I don’t remember writing it. It is actually pretty strange.

Some would say that this is probably a good way to let in demonic influences, as if writing fiction is actually a method of channeling forces beyond the reach of the material world, sort of like an Ouija board. Honestly, depending on what I write, I can’t always tell if my writing is inspired by good. Maybe it’s more neutral, like it’s coming from my subconscious mind. My intention with every piece of fiction I wrote was for it to ultimately have a positive message. Before I stopped writing, I’d considered putting more Catholic overtones in my main series but was unsure how to pull that off without sounding obnoxious or like I was preaching. And although its main character is something of an antihero, XIII is essentially about good versus evil, and (spoiler alert) good wins in the end.

So I don’t think my writing is a gateway to demonic portals or that I’m possessed by demons (although my husband could probably argue otherwise). 🙂

*It was pretty good. I’d recommend it if you like horror/gothic novels. However, I did get the sense that there would be a sequel.

More Overused/Misused Words

In my last Thursday Three post, I wrote about how the word “toxic” is overused. There are several others I think we could use way less often (or at least use in the correct way).

  • “gaslighting” or “gaslit”: People now seem to be using this one in a similar context as “tricked,” but I don’t think they are the same at all. From what I understand, “gaslighting” is a form of emotional manipulation.
  • “abuse” or “abusive”: Like “toxic,” this word is being used to describe relationships or situations that aren’t truly abusive. Abuse is a serious matter, so let’s not dilute the word’s meaning.
  • “lives rent free in my head”: Not a word but a very irritating phrase that was initially cute but is now a clichĂ©. Basically, it means you got something stuck in your head and it’s not providing any kind of benefit, as in “this song has been living rent free in my head for the past two days.”
  • “noped out”: Similar to “lives rent free in my head,” this phrase was amusing at first, then got old quickly. “I noped out of there” means that you left a bad or awkward situation with great haste. Many times, it includes a curse word, like “I noped the f*** out of there.”
  • “fur baby”: Your dog or cat (or hamster or iguana or carrier pigeon) isn’t your baby, no matter how much you may think so or no matter how cute it is. An animal isn’t a child. Similar words that are equally annoying are “granddog” and “fur sibling.”
  • “adulting”: I ranted about this one in the past. Doing any basic chores or tasks that a responsible adult typically does is considered “adulting,” like paying taxes, making basic household repairs, getting off the internet long enough to do chores, and so forth.
  • chef’s kiss“: In internet slang, it means “perfection” and is used far too often. I never even thought it was cute. There might be a corresponding meme or GIF for it, but I don’t feel like finding it. (And you’ve probably seen it before, multiple times.)
  • “horrific”: Often paired with “abuse,” it’s used to describe something that’s not truly horrific. A parent telling their teenage child that they can’t go out after midnight isn’t “horrific abuse.” It’s just parenting. You kids will understand when you get older and/or become parents (but not parents of fur babies).

New York (Specifically, New York City)

I took a creative writing class awhile back (this might have been as far back as seventh grade), and one of the tips for writing was something like “don’t use New York City as a setting; it’s been done to death.”

When I was in seventh grade, I hadn’t read enough to recognize that that is very true. Seems like every book published has New York as the setting or uses a setting based on New York. You’d think I would appreciate that. My parents were born in New York City and lived there their whole lives before moving upstate and having my brother and me. So my roots are in New York. My family’s roots (on both sides) are in New York.

I came to North Carolina in 1995, when I was 7, so I remember very little about upstate and even less about the city. In 2014, my dad and I took a trip back there, mainly for old times’ sake. We saw the city, the house upstate where we lived, and several other places that had meaning to me at one point.

After that visit, I could completely understand why someone would choose New York City as a setting for a book. The place is endlessly fascinating and filled with history and excitement. If I lived there (and for a long time, after graduating from college, I actually wanted to move back to the city and start my career in the publishing world), I would most likely set stories and books there.

But I have no real connection to New York. When I went up there in 2014, I felt like some alien hick from North Carolina, not classy or special enough to be in what was technically my homeland, even though that is the beauty of the city: If you want to stand out, you can. If you want to blend into the shadows, you can do that, too.

Whenever I read a book set in New York (or a city that might as well be New York), I remember the cliche and roll my eyes. It is annoying to always be reading about the Big Apple, but like all cliches, it’s a cliche for a reason: it’s true. New York is the place where dreams are made, even though I know that only in an anecdotal way.

Do you like reading about New York as a setting?