I’ve discovered over the past few weeks of the semester that I have an affinity for all things creepy. Creepy music, creepy writing, creepy photography – you name it, and I’ll probably like it. Personally, I blame really good crime television, and Professor Caroline Breashears. But mostly really good crime television.
I think it probably started with Criminal Minds. I had plenty of free time over the summer, and of course my go-to activity was to marathon nine seasons of psychopaths. Then I saw Silence of the Lambs for the first time (phenomenal movie – if you haven’t seen it, put it at the top of your list), which prompted me to devour season one of Hannibal (devour – see what I did there!). One thing led to another, and the next thing I know I’m listening to Lorde, agonizing over Kevin Bacon in The Following, and enrolling in Caroline Breashears’ Gothic Novel class.
Caroline’s class is all about the creepy things that incite fear and disgust. From classic gothic tropes like incest and religious hypocrisy to classic characters like Frankenstein’s monster and Dracula, every Monday and Wednesday from 2:30 to 4:00 I am immersed in scary stories. And it is starting to bleed into my writing.
It’s quite liberating to write about things that go bump in the night. There are no limitations; topics that might seem taboo, or pushing the boundaries, or “not very appropriate,” are suddenly fair game. Take cannibalism for example. While learning about gothic tropes of terror and horror in Caroline’s class, I had a writing assignment due for English 310: Advanced Fiction. We had to find an obscure word. I settled on Paedophage – an eater of children – and turned in a six page narrative about an elderly woman, known around town as the sweet old lady who lives in the woods and goes to bingo once a week, and unknown to the town as a child-specific cannibal.
The point of this isn’t that everybody should start writing about cannibals and serial killers and psychopathic personalities. My love for creepy could very well be a phase, the same way I went through an “OMG I’m totally gonna marry Joe Jonas” phase (although I’m pretty sure my current fixation is more intellectually stimulating). The point of this to embrace liberation in imagination, in writing, in endless possibilities of exploration. I mean, I just put Joe Jonas and cannibalism in the same paragraph; who does that? Find your equivalent of creepy, and run with it. See where it takes you.