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Something Close to Indestructible
Less Than Pulp, Issue 62
I’m still recovering from what was, by far, my hardest week in the indie horror scene. No, I won’t be recapping it or weighing in because I am frankly exhausted. I’m not dead, though; I’m simply back to embracing the liminal, the meditative dormancy of living and working underground, behind-the-scenes, and of transforming into something close to indestructible.
I’ve been thinking about this band I used to go see perform. Their name was Eldritch Youth. They played a chimeric mix of witch house, rap, and indie rock. Their lyrics ranged from the spooky to the nostalgic. In the best cases, they managed to blend the two feelings. I have no idea what happened to those kids. They’re not on Bandcamp, Discogs, or YouTube. All I know is I miss them terribly. Here’s a fragment from their song “Cult Classic.”
Climb through the sunroof and reach for the stars. We’re driving too fast in my stepfather’s car. It’s fantastic; I’m a cult classic.
I fall asleep when I can’t stand the air. I’m only at ease in an electric chair. I’m erratic; hearing voices in the static.
In the middle of the night, straight whiskey no chase; this whole planet’s a haunted house in space.
It went something like that. I could be misremembering. That was a whole other lifetime ago, it seems.
I got thinking about those lyrics and Eldritch Youth as performers because they call to mind a different time. Back then, I was just a fan of genre stuff, not a published author or someone who helped organize conventions. It’s easy, especially after the other week, to look back on that time wistfully and hope somehow that it’s possible to go back. In a way, I suppose I could; I could stop writing, stop publishing, and stop attending conventions or interacting with the community at large. I could read what I want and privately enjoy these books, talking about them only with people in the neighborhood or my friends and family outside the biz. I could rewatch the horror movies that made me love the genre, taking comfort in their sometimes-messy composition and letting the nostalgia put me in a daze where nothing else matters for ninety minutes or so. Indeed, some have suggested I do some or all of these things.
But here’s the problem: when I was a teenager who barricaded himself in his room with either a Stephen King novel or a George Romero movie to help me forget that I felt different from my friends and family, like a ghost in my own house, there was an undeniable hunger to make something and put it out in the world.
I’ve done that now. We’re coming up on twenty books published, which is something I never would’ve dreamed of accomplishing as a younger person. Theoretically, that hunger I felt back then should be sated. I should be able to retreat back to my cave with books I want to read and movies I want to watch and music I want to hear.
And yet, the hunger remains.
This isn’t to say I’m never satisfied. My family brings me satisfaction in spades. The community that Jean has built for us, mostly made up of other parents and their children, also brings me a great deal of fulfillment.
With creative pursuits, the satisfaction is in the journey, of putting one word in front of the other, the what-ifs, the feeling like I’m headed somewhere but not knowing where, and the hope that it’s somewhere interesting. But I’m always hungry.
You can say I’m a veteran of this genre now; people have. I suppose it’s quantifiably true, as I’ve been active in this scene for over a decade, but it doesn’t feel qualitatively so. Most days, it’s like I’m still just starting out. Still hungry. I’m not sure that will ever go away; I’m not even sure losing that feeling is what I want.
Those Eldritch Youth kids, though. I don’t know what happened to them. My gut tells me they went their separate ways and now have their own individual creative endeavors albeit under different names. I can’t imagine they stopped creating. And surely, they didn’t stop sharing the things they made. For me, the urge to create and the urge to share those creations go hand in hand.
But who knows? Maybe they really did give it all up.
I’ll probably never find out.
Anyway, I’m back to work on Barn Door to Hell after a slight detour. I’ve got maybe 25 pages left. Wrapping things up is always a challenge, especially if you’re like me and you edit as you go. I intend to have my head down working on this until it’s done, though. No more delays, excuses, or distractions.
In the meantime, be sure to check out Make Your Own Damn Podcast. This week, Jeff and I do a Killer Con recap. You can hear the episode early on our Patreon for just a buck, or you can wait until Thursday and hear it for free on Apple, Spotify, or YouTube.
Thanks to everyone who sticks around to hear me ramble every week. I’m so glad you’re here. If you’re new, welcome! And thank you.