I try not to be that guy. But I probably am. You know, the one who corrects some miniscule point of grammar while you're having a satisfying rant on Twitter. You care about the plight of Australian Water Buffalo, not that some jerk noticed that your much needed semicolon was in absentia. But I care. I care a lot. I love the intricacies of the English language; the way words play together like siblings: sometimes a united front for clarity, sometimes at war, with sounds that rumble and clash against each other. I love words that imply other words. Subtle double entendre makes my day. When I named this blog "Subjunctive Mood", I knew I might leave a few of you out of the joke, so let me now invite you in.
The subjunctive mood is something we have in English, but tend to avoid, with awkward structure, until we are required to learn it through the study of foreign languages. I recognize that English is a foreign language to most of the world. I also realize that if it is foreign to you, you may be alone among your friends in using the subjunctive mood properly. The short explanation is that it is used in case of expressing things that may not be the case. For example: "If I were you, I would reconsider playing chess with that lion. He looks sketchy." In the indicative mood, "I" and "were" don't go together. Most people will never say, "I were eating Australian Water Buffalo testicles when the meteor hit." So there's your grammar lesson for the day.
But the real reason I used it is that I like the sound of it rattling against what it is. "Subjunctive" sounds like "subversive", "subluxation", and "submit". These are words for something below or outside where it seems they should be. A disturbance in the usual order of things. When it comes to words, I like disturbance. The job of all art is to reach past the parts of our brains that understand subjunctive mood into the gooey subversive center and scoop out a chunk we didn't see before -- and make us look at it. And mood? We tend to scoff at moodiness as a weakness, and so it sometimes is. But we are social creatures, altered by the capricious responses of other, equally moody creatures, so that they'll share their mammoth if you happen to run out. So embrace your subversive, submarine, subjunctive mood if you like. And I'll try not to correct your grammar on Twitter. Probably.
In defense of marketing...what do I know? I've never been comfortable with salesmanship. I was once a miserable failure at selling pre-need funeral services, (exactly what it sounds like, for those out of the loop) but even at simple retail or restaurant jobs, I found it difficult to upsell the extra drink or accessory. If you were ever the victim of my early attempts at fashion accessory upselling, I apologize -- you probably don't match. I'm sorry. I'm still not great at it. My difficulty comes from a good place. I think that adults generally know what they want, what they can afford, and how much alcohol they should drink, and I'm not much inclined to interfere with their decisions.
But now, with my writing in place, I find I need to advertise, or people just won't know about my work. It may be for you, maybe not, but most people haven't seen enough of it to make a decision either way. Titles and keywords aside, fairy tales are everywhere, and a random search is unlikely to lead you, Dear Reader, to me, unless it's me you're looking for. But I think it's worth reading, and so I find myself learning about SEO search keywords and watching YouTube videos about people who have written wholly different books about entirely different things, and how they have sold them.
I have discovered, though, that a lot of these popular books with great sales numbers are books about writing, not books of writing. Which is fine; I've read a lot of these books and learned things from them, and appreciated what they have to offer. But it isn't what I love. I don't want to tell you how to write your own book, I want to show you mine, so I can take you out of your life for a few moments, and let you travel to the monastery with a restless monk, or the cemetery with a heartbroken zombie lover. Now that I read that, it is a little clearer why it might be an odd choice. But you know who you are, fellow lovers of the slimy things crawling through the moss, just beneath your feet, and the flowers that bloom only beneath a full moon.
It is in this spirit that I ask you to have a look at my work. I hope you love it. If you do, share it with other people who are like us. I've made it available for free, because I want to share it more than I want to be a bazillionaire. Please leave reviews. You can email me on this site, let me know what you love and hate. I'm open to criticism. I look forward to hearing from you.
In a small black box, next to my desk, I have printed copies of all my stories. Several have been published, a few have not. But there is one that I have never offered for publication, from a terrible and graphic nightmare I had the night before I wrote it. It came to me whole, like a twisted Apollo leaping, full grown, from my aching skull. It is, I think, well executed, but not necessarily a 'good' story. There is no redemption, only horror and madness and despair. Which is why I don't really want it published.
We do not, I believe, as writers, have moral obligations to make ugliness beautiful, nor evil into goodness, though sometimes we do , and these are bright points of our careers. Those of us who write horror, or dark fantasy, and our readers are hoping to be brought to the precipice and to have our eyes directed into the abyss, and see what, exactly, it is that is staring back at us. Even in literary fiction, we see shadows; past the early phases of adolescence, we can rarely maintain a black and white sense of what is wholly good or wholly bad, and we recognize that we, and others, are a combination of the two.
But there are topics we leave out of fiction, generally. Certain sexual acts are never portrayed, and only in specific genres of horror films are there actual murders graphically portrayed. (Oddly enough, I don't know how graphically. I can't watch those things. They give me nightmares.) I also recently learned that even in the most violent of video games, children are never killed, even in the ones where brutality goes consistently unpunished. In a setting of violence, we still consider some things unacceptable.
I'm ok with this, though I wonder who is making the decisions. I am comfortable censoring my own work, but the idea of censorship troubles me. Looking through my own work, I discover that there are themes of redemption, or revenge for a wrong, but not random and senseless destruction. 'Moist' is one of my favorite of my stories, but it offers only revenge, not salvation. Hardly a shining reflection of human potential. But as I pointed out to a loved one who asked me why I never wrote happy endings, (she got 'Love Spell' -- it's almost happy?) no one wants to read about the guy who got up, had a great day at work, and went to bed. We're glad for him, but we're not going to read about him.
Not everyone is redeemed, not everyone is redeemable, maybe, and I think the morality of horror lies in its deep sense of justice. Bad guys generally meet a bad end. While that position may be morally grey, it appeals to us, for the same reasons that we love superhero movies and even love stories, where the hero saves the city, and the best man wins and gets the girl. We want the world to be this way, even though we know it isn't.