Print Story A Walk Through Brooklyn: A late WFC post-mort
Diary
By aethucyn (Sun Nov 18, 2007 at 10:34:38 AM EST) (all tags)
The Post-mortem for "Haunted House" within.


When the contest was announced, I started the story in the first weekend. I then spent a couple of weeks not so sure that this was the story I wanted to write. In fact, what appeared was probably my third go, but all of them kept returning to Brooklyn and ultimately to that house (in earlier versions, it began in the house, only in this one did it start out on Coney Island).

There is a lot of truth to "Haunted House," but it isn't as such my story. Jackie is based upon my ex-wife, and the ghost is my former mother-in-law. That in some ways explains my own ambiguity when writing it. On the one hand, I wanted to tell the story, but on the other, I felt overly cautious while writing it. There are details that I chose not to go into, because it was a little too much of airing other people's dirty laundry. I'd have no qualms sharing my own details, or those of other friends who have never been quite so close, but I was more hesitant to reveal in regards to this.

One of the things I was thinking when I wrote this is that piece of wisdom which people offer up about learning how to be alone without being lonely. It was advice I was given when I was first single, and honestly, years later, I don't think I've quite figured out how to do it, at least not consistently. In fact, I think getting to a point where one is alone and yet never feels lonely is a terrible way to live, and that's the sort of life I give to the mother. That despite Jackie thinking that her mom was terribly lonely and pining for her mother, instead the woman was perfectly content. I think ana's review most picked up on that. The idea that as a ghost she didn't return to communicate with the living or scare them but simply to watch "Witness" again.

When I hit the end, I did give it a quick last couple of lines and leave it as that. I'd considered ending it a little differently, but I didn't want to say too much. I didn't want to come out and sum up the story, so instead I went the other extreme and just ended it.

Oh yeah, and somebody noted that they liked the way the character didn't freak out about seeing a ghost. I have a personal belief that one major difference between fiction and reality is that real people can deal with weird shit much more easily than fictional ones. The prolonged element of somebody coming to terms with ghosts or monsters, or aliens is one that bores the crap out of me. I think real people are more fight or flight. When dealt with the impossible, we don't say, "This can't be," we do what we need to, and hope there's time to make sense of it at a later date. Maybe I'm wrong on that, but I think even if I am, there's something to be said for leaving the "coming to terms" scene out, just as you don't have to include every trip to the bathroom in fiction.

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I may be biased by Kellnerin (2.00 / 0) #1 Sun Nov 18, 2007 at 12:38:18 PM EST
but I liked it a lot, and I liked the portrayal of the ghost. It does feel like you edited yourself a little severely, though.

I agree with your take on the "coming to terms" issue -- I had the same choice in WFC3, though I'm not sure I handled it quite right. It can be a tricky balancing act -- eschew the cheap "oh my god, oh my god" emotion and you may end up a little too flat (for "you", of course, read "me").

--
"Late to the party" is the new "ahead of the curve" -- CRwM

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