Okay--let's do the same thing that was done for There Is No Doubt: Storied Humanness with The Ghost Grew Legs: Stories of the Dead for the More or Less Living. Set down the stories swirling in my brain for inclusion or possible inclusion, though the list is not complete. This is a start. For me, a start isn't that far from a finish. I'm less interested in labels and chronology as attending to my process. Which can take many forms. But as a rule, if I do anything, I am doing a ton, and a little for me is much further along for someone else. I go to nearly there very quickly.
These are slanted ghost stories. Or that's what I call them, how I think of them. They're askew. I don't want to do a volume of ghost stories that hew to the Victorian/Edwardian model, where they're written in that classic ghost story language. People do this now--they write as though they're in 1922. That's fine--those works can be enjoyable. But they don't add anything new. There are so many ghost stories and collections of ghost stories from the classic ghost story era that I just don't see the point of doing something non-new. And besides, I couldn't do something non-new if I wanted to. I can only create that which has never been done.
Some of these stories are terrifying. Some have whimsy and humor. I'm torn in a way on "Head to Give," which could feature in this book or in There Is No Doubt. There's no need to settle on that right now. The title sets it up so that not all of the stories are ghost stories. They don't have to be. There's also wiggle room, for there are all kinds of ways to be dead. You can be alive and dead. It's hardly anything but a mere "well, this was the time-of-death" thing. I know many living people who are dead.
I say the stories are slanted and askew because ghost stories, and weird fiction, and the entire history of ghost stories and weird fiction, has very little to do with people in the world, what is happening in the world, how people have become in the world. They're things that happened in some strange house. Idealogically, they don't offer much. That's not what they do. They're mood pieces, atmosphere pieces, and they don't spark debate, they don't comment on the way humans are becoming, and I just think that's limited. And this is the person who knows the most about ghost stories and weird fiction in the world. They tend to be just entertainment, and not art, and they don't prompt larger discussions.
That's not what I'm looking to do. These works of mine have much larger societal and cultural implications. Some of them could get people quite fired up. And yet, often, they retain the eldritch touch, and some can scare a reader shitless. Others challenge the very idea of what a ghost story is, or what weird fiction is. While still being the very thing or things. Emblematically so--but newly emblematic.
Generally, horror fiction is about "this thing over here." The ghost, the monster, the zombie, the haunted house, the wolf. Rarely is it about the person or people involved in the story. What they are. What makes them. What makes them where they go right, what makes them where they go wrong. What makes their relationships, what inhibits their relationships. How they change, or how they don't, and what the result is in each way. My work usually comes down to the relational. For all of the different forms my work takes, the relational is key. How people are in relation to others, and in themselves, and what that ultimately reveals 1. About them and 2. How we are as humans.
#2 is far more important--laying bare human nature, revealing human nature, and human complexity, so that a reader may see it better, recognize it better, feel it better, understand it better. And thus, themselves, the people they know, the world, the task of being human, the challenges of being human, the aims and goals of being human. That's really what I do. In everything. The fiction, the stories, the novels, the nonfiction, and this journal.
But no one has ever done that with horror fiction. So I am going to do it.
This is just a starter list to think about for me. There's a lot more to go through and the book will look a lot differently in the end. It'd also be hard for me to move "Jute" from Longer on the Inside, but I am at least mulling it. One thing about this this book is there is a lot of range in the lengths of the works. But I think that can be good with horror, especially horror that comes at you from so many angles and directions and in so many forms--so many as to further challenge what horror even means or can be. Or is sometimes without us calling it that, until we have a different experience that induces--even forces--a different kind of looking, seeing, and understanding.
So this is for me just to continue a process that has already started.
"August Autumn" "Window Walk"
"The Saw Horse"
"The Bone Hole"
"A Call for the Lift"
"Little Gloves "Spines"
"Bitch of It"
"A Game of Trocar"
"The Summer Friend"
"My Driftwood Imp"
"The Ghost Grew Legs"
"A Gooseneck Lamp"
"Cliffs for Cliffs"
"See Me See Him Seeing Me"
"The Giver of Care"
"The Frontage Road"