Breaking news, Street readers—I actually did my homework this week. I wrote out a list of 100 fears. Turns out that when you take a class titled "The Art of Haunting," you have to get familiar with what's scary. You have to write it out and let it sit. But this assignment was starting to freak me out.
I sat at my desk and experienced that familiar but still nauseating cocktail of writer’s block muddled with a splash of anxiety. I stared at a blank document and tried to write down, in no particular order, at least 100 things that scared me.
Street's managing editor Dalton and I sprawled out in The Daily Pennsylvanian office around 1 a.m. on Sunday—Monday?—night. I had a blank Google Doc open in front of me, daring me to be anxious, as if I needed an invitation. And then Dalton and I started talking.
Fast–forward to 3 a.m. We’d been shooting the shit for two hours about what scared us, Dalton pacing around the office like an old–timey therapist.
We started with the banal—feeling awkward in conversation, oversleeping.
We moved onto the Street–related, which I’ll pass on sharing here.
We covered the unlikely—electroshock therapy, nuclear fallout, being buried alive.
Then on to the creature feature—spiders, cockroaches, mice, centipedes.
We talked about The Polar Express, and Dalton taught me about uncanny valley theory, which is the reason that movie scared me so much as a kid. The characters in it lived in that liminal space between real and not real, lifelike and just off–putting enough to not be.
And we touched on the really dark—mine being that my family would all die in a plane crash without me and leave me to take care of the family affairs alone.
Now the list numbers 116 and I have to print it out and give it to my professor—with a few redactions. And as helpful as this list will be in a class devoted to writing horror fiction, I think what’s more important is the process of getting there.
Talking about things that scare you sucks. But talking about it with your friends isn’t so bad. I’m lucky to work with mine.