Samantha Jones

Sam's Notebook

Samantha Jones is associate editor for Carroll County Newspapers. Her email address is Citizen.Editor.Eureka@gmail.com.


Taking a blind leap

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Regular readers of this column know Iím a big fan of the horror genre. I love the slasher sub-genre the most, but thereís no sub-genre I wonít try. One of my favorites is the classic haunted house story.

A family moves in, things go awry and before you know it, Dad is hearing voices and Mom is hiding the kids in the boathouse until morning comes. Sometimes the mom goes crazy instead. Other times, the black-haired precocious child is the houseís vessel of chaos. No matter what, somebody falls down the stairs, somebody sees a ghost and somebody else suggests moving out way too late.

I love this sub-genre so much that I sometimes dream of it. Two years ago, I awoke from a particularly vivid dream, or somebody elseís nightmare, around 4 a.m.. Normally Iíd toss and turn until my alarm goes off, but that night I took out my journal and jotted down the important parts of the dream. I never remember my dreams the next day. I wanted to remember this one.

Somehow, I still remembered it when I woke up. I still remember it two years later ó it was apparently that jarring. In the dream, a woman is walking through the Eureka Springs historic district late at night. The trees are lush with life and itís muggy as all get out. From those details, I assume it takes place during the summer.

As she approaches her house, one of those big Victorian homes people buy when they have plenty of time for renovation projects, she sees a home decorated for Christmas. Thereís a Christmas tree shining bright through the bay window and a family exchanging gifts inside. She blinks and the house turns dark. Itís got to be July or August ó she knows thereís no good reason for her house to be decorated for the holidays.

She tells no one in particular that sheís just tired and seeing things, opens the gate and goes inside. Itís a story weíve all seen in some form or fashion, but experiencing it in a dream made it feel so real. I decided there was a book there, an epistolary set in Eureka Springs. Then I wrote a few entries and got writerís block.

Well, last Tuesday night I couldnít sleep. Thatís nothing new. Iíd qualify for the insomniac event at the Olympics every time, if that were a thing. Hit me up, Uncle Sam! Most sleepless nights, I lay there for hours until hours and hours thinking of everything that could possibly go wrong in life. Not this night.

In a surprising surge of creativity, I pulled out my laptop and added a few new entries to my horror novel. I continued writing the next day and realized the story was really becoming interesting.

With this weekly column, I have probably tricked you all into believing I finish my writing projects. That couldnít be further from the truth. I have started and stopped so many novels, memoirs and poetry books over the years. Once I start to get deep into the work, a part of my brain shorts out and writerís block sets in.

At least I thought it was writerís block. Upon examination, Iím not so sure thatís true. I am a creative piŮata, constantly bursting with ideas for books and paintings and poems. I can write strong copy in a short period of time. Iíve got the technical aspects of writing down pat.

No, itís not writerís block that plagues me. Itís fear, plain and simple. The fear of sharing my work with someone who doesnít tiptoe around my feelings. The fear of rejection. The fear of putting so much time and effort into a project that nobody likes. Itís palpable, and it has prevented me from making progress on so many promising projects.

So last week, I decided to flip the script. I doubled the progress on my horror novel and called the Writersí Colony at Dairy Hollow to ask if there was an upcoming event where I could share an excerpt of my work. Somehow, I got the go-ahead to read my writing at a little get together in September.

Then I hung up, freaked out and wondered aloud what I had done. My novel is still a work in progress, just like me. And if I can push through the fear to share my work with the public, I can definitely finish writing that book.

I think I can. No, I know I can. Hereís to taking a blind leap.