Today “Dispatches from a Hole in the World” – my story for Nightmare’s Queers Destroy Horror! issue – went live, so you can read it here. If you want. If you do, fair warning: it’s about suicide, so if that’s a trigger for you, proceed with caution. Mental illness is also in there.
I’ve been writing less in the way of short fiction recently – disappointing, a little, because I love the form – and I think there are a variety of reasons for that, but I think one of them is that the kind of short fiction I write has taken a darker turn, and it’s more difficult to stay in that place for any length of time. It’s more difficult to go there at all. A lot of my fiction has always been dark, but at some point, a little over a year ago and maybe more, I made the decision to finally turn inward and write things with material pulled from some of the rawest and most painful parts of my psyche. The first true result of that was “Singing With All My Skin and Bone”, also published in Nightmare. It was terrifying to write. It was incredibly cathartic. It came very quickly; I finished it in about an hour and it needed very little work afterward.
It was terrifying in part because it’s about dermatillomania, which is a disorder that isn’t much talked about and isn’t well understood – by people who don’t have it; the people who do understand it all too well. It’s an incredibly difficult kind of mental illness to talk about, because it involves compulsive behavior – which we also don’t understand very well – and because it involves self harm in a context we don’t usually see it. I hate and am not playing the Mental Illness Olympics game, but as a culture I think we have an easier time talking about self harm as a result of depression than self harm as a result of literally not being able to stop.
Enjoying it, even. As a kid I found it soothing. Painful but soothing. Still do.