Archive for the ‘real life’ Category

“Did you miss me?” she said into the abyss.

I have been out of it as far as writing, posting, connecting. What happened to me?

Christina Bergling

https://linktr.ee/chrstnabergling

Like my writing? Check out my books!

  • Followers – You never know who is on the other side of the screen. Followers is a mystery and thriller that blends women’s fiction with horror.
  • The Rest Will Come – Online dating would drive anyone to murder, especially Emma.
  • Savages – Two survivors search the ruins for the last strain of humanity. Until the discovery of a baby changes everything.
  • The Waning – Locked in a cage, Beatrix must survive to escape or be broken completely.
  • Screechers – Mutant monsters and humans collide in the apocalyptic fallout of a burned world. Co-authored with Kevin J. Kennedy.
  • Horror Anthologies

I don’t know how I feel about summarizing this past year–2021. In some bizarre time anomaly that is the current state of things, it simultaneously feels like I was just reluctantly typing my 2020 in Review and as if 2021 alone spanned five normal years. I am not sure how time can sprint by in a blur while raking in painful slow motion. Yet, here we are.

2020 was simple and easy to review. It was shit. 2021, however, was more complicated as so much continued to be messy and challenging while other components attempted to limp back toward “normalcy.” I found myself weak and damaged.

Floundering is a good word that comes to mind. Yet I did flounder through, and when I look back from a more pragmatic hindsight, I can see progress, accomplishments, and healing mingled with my struggles.

When I compare 2021 to 2020, I can truly appreciate the highlights. Right now (and in this post), I am choosing to focus on the highlights.

Followers Release

Perhaps the largest highlight of my year was the release of my fifth book, Followers, by Crystal Lake Publishing.

Crystal Lake Publishing was a pleasure to work with, especially in challenging times when I could not celebrate or promote a new novel in ways I have in previous years.

Followers is a novel that allowed me to question and play with themes and concepts that have come up during my time in the horror genre. It also got me to stretch and grow writer muscles. I feel like I took a step forward with this book. And it makes me want to take another. (I think I did with my yet unpublished WIP, and I stand poised for another with the next I plan to start.)

Publication is always an accomplishment for an author.

Telluride Horror Show

Telluride Horror Show was back in person this year! Vaccinated and masked but in Telluride!

After traveling next to none in more than a year prior, it felt so good to go somewhere. It was comforting to be in one of my favorite places. Even with the precautions, the event maintained itself. Most of the festivities were able to happen unchanged or simply migrated outdoors.

There was no more appropriate time to go than right after releasing Followers since I included the Telluride Horror Show in the book. While writing and editing and reading and re-reading Followers, I had been dying to walk to streets of Telluride again.

It was the vacation I needed.

And of course, we snuck in an amazing winter hike. Because one cannot survive on horror movies and booze alone… right?

NaNoWriMo

Yes, I returned to the challenge, the torment, the sprint for a second year. Last year, I used the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo – 50,000 words in one month) challenge to complete my novel Green Eyes. A novel I am still working and querying a year later.

This year, I was struggling with my relationship with the craft. I wanted to use NaNoWriMo to find my way back to my passion for writing. I wanted to strip away all the collateral parts of writing–the querying and editing and publishing and promoting and marketing–and return to just the act itself. So I turned to a genre I have never attempted, fan fiction.

Fan fiction can never be published for profit, due to copyright infringement. Since I could never do anything with the story, there was no pressure in writing it, just the creation of the story, just the pure act.

So I took my first and one of my favorite horror movies: Scream. I focused on the original movie from the perspective of the killers, with some before and after. I watched Scream a bunch of times and combed through the script. It was an experience, and it accomplished the goal.

I don’t know that I’ll ever do anything with Father Death. I have mused on polishing it up and posting it to this blog. However, it was fun to compose and brought me back to wanting to write again.

Now, I just have to wait and see how it aligns with Scream 5.

High School Speaking

Odd and out of character, one of my favorite author things to do is speak at schools. During lockdown, I even did it over Zoom. But I did miss it, especially during spooky season when everyone wants to talk about horror.

This fall, I got to return to one high school and talk to classes all day long. There were a lot of masks and distance involved, and the pandemic has definitely changed how students behave and interact, but I loved it just the same.

At these sessions, one of the teachers read one of my pieces to the auditorium. It was multiple layers of surreal. Reading my own work aloud is always a trip, but having another person read as I listened and watched the reactions added another layer.

It was not the same as when I have visited before the pandemic, but the world is not the same. We cannot expect things to snap back when years have passed and so much has happened. So instead of noting the differences, I appreciate how fun it was.

Metal Fusion Dancing

One thing that is better, that I do more of since the pandemic is performing, which seems odd. My metal fusion dancing is unrelated to writing. However, it does share a lineage with my love of horror. I often include horror themes, props, or imagery in my performances. For example, Pennywise or fake blood.

I used to dance and perform constantly with my troupe in Tennessee/Georgia. However, it has been slow returning to the activity since moving home to Colorado. I began finally dabbling and finding my way back to the stage preceding the pandemic and lockdowns. Yet as things have opened back up, I have found more opportunities, producers, and shows. I am seeing more traction.

I also continued to dance with my Southern troupe over Zoom and joined an online metal collective. So dance is firmly rooted back in my life.

Onward…

It would be inauthentic to gloss over the depths of my depression in the past year or the ripples my struggles are still sending through my days. However, that darkness does not mean the entire year has been dark. There were plenty of highlights and joy. The best way to keep my head above the waves is to keep my eyes on those points of light and remember the tide will swell and recede.

So it is onward into another year. No resolutions. No expectations. Just the ambition and hope to continue progress and recovery and hopefully grow the ratio of highlights versus darkness.

Christina Bergling

https://linktr.ee/chrstnabergling

Telluride Horror Show, back in person! If I can accurately stalk my own social media posts or count my own souvenir badges correctly, this was our fifth Telluride Horror Show attendance (inclusive of last year’s virtual rendition). I was thrilled to back in Telluride this year.

For the past two years and pandemic, the festival itself managed to go on largely unchanged. There were masks indoors and wristbands to verify vaccination or negative test status. Some events were held outside. Otherwise, all the things happened.

However, this won’t be my typical Horror Show write up because this was not my typical Horror Show experience. Not due to the fest–the fest itself was as normal as it possibly could be. The call was coming from inside the house. The trip to Telluride afforded me the time to finally take a breath, and when I did, many things surfaced in my mind. Horror has always been a coping mechanism for me, so I supposed it was an apt time for some processing.

In all cases, it was much needed.

Bridal Veil Falls

Sure, three days of horror movies and events is enough to fill a weekend. However, considering we have to drive across the state to get to Telluride, we decided to cram more into the trip. Plus there is always that masochistic outdoor streak.

My father has been scolding me yearly for being in Telluride and not doing the Bridal Veil Falls hike, so this year, we finally got it together and did the thing.

The weather was amazing. My Viking heart was singing through the frigid snow contrasted with the blazing fall colors on the trees. I was euphoric and zen, in my total happy hiking place. We took the long walk through town to the trailhead to truly absorb it.

When we got to the trailhead, there was even more snow on the mountain and we were the first on the trail, so there was no trail. We had to trailblaze through the untouched powder the entire way up. It was an adventure. And a slog. Lots of slipping and sliding. For just over a mile, it was a journey.

Totally worth it. Gorgeous frozen falls times three. It was the perfect way to kick off the weekend and get the blood pumping before sitting in theaters for three days.

Author Stalking

One of the highlights of Telluride Horror Show for me this year was all the author events. Telluride always hosts an enviable set of author activities. I have seen Paul Tremblay and Jeremy Robert Johnson in previous years. Yet this year included Stephen Graham Jones.

I was introduced to Jones’s work this year when a beta reader suggested The Only Good Indians as a comparable title to my WIP novel. I read it and fell in love with that book and Jones’s style in general. I immediately devoured My Heart is a Chainsaw and Mongrels. I was hooked and so excited to see him in person.

Jones and Tremblay both read (and Johnson riffed) at the Creepy Campfire Tales. Then, prior to a book signing, the three held a Horror Summit to discuss writing and horror genre topics.

This all hit at a strange time for me. I find myself a bit lost in my writing career, and I’m not entirely sure why. I just released my fifth book (Followers) with Crystal Lake Publishing. I have wanted to work with Crystal Lake for a long time, and releasing a book is always a success, so I should feel happy and accomplished. I already have another novel drafted and ready to submit. Though it has garnered a bunch of agent rejections, I still love it.

So, why am I questioning my writing career? Why is my resolve weakening now? Listening to these professional authors speak somehow left me feeling even more conflicted, made the real dream seem even farther away. I left the events full of admiration… and increased self-doubt, which is uncharacteristic for me.

The Movies

The Telluride Horror show is really all about THE MOVIES! So what did I see?

Admittedly, I saw less this year than I usually do. My social stamina was not where it used to be, so I did not have the drive to attend every round of every day. We also had a baby in our party, so I took several child care shifts. Then I devoted a good portion of my time to the other events (authors and trivia). Plenty of horror movies still happened.

The viewing experience was somewhat off for me this year too. At first, being in a full theater was bizarre. It had been two years since I was in a packed theater. The first time I was seated directly next to a stranger, I found myself curling toward my husband, as if I was going to crawl into his lap like a cat. But I got over that quickly and reacclimated to being social.

More than that, my triggers were misaligned. Movies that were hyped up to upset me passed over my mind smoothly, while others that seemed inane stirred unexpected responses. Ghosts were moving beneath the surface of my mind that I could not identify. The horror called to them.

The Sadness

HOLY SHIT this movie. The Sadness gets every trigger warning. Graphic, gory, disturbing, fucked… but brilliant.

The movie is unsettling enough with its COVID parallels. The news reports sound all too familiar. Then it takes a swan dive off into horrific. Yet it is not splatter or shock gore. While traumatizing, it is all calculated. The despicable things depicted contribute to the story, drive the plot points.

The movie is about showing what terrible things are right below our surface, right under our thin veil of control or civilization. The Sadness renders a sublimely sickening vision of what is behind that veil. Yet it maintains lines where the camera pulls away and leaves even worse things for the imagination of the audience. That control made what is deliberate on screen all the more effective.

While a challenging and one-time watch, The Sadness is my favorite from the fest and a movie I needed to see.

Sinister Stories Shorts

The “Sinister Stories” shorts block included some creepy and interesting offerings.

Koreatown Ghost Story was my favorite short of the fest. Extremely succinct and unnerving, it offers just enough to draw you in and deliver the right impact. I loved it.

Face Not Recognized. Try Again has an interesting concept that left me with numerous questions. You’re Family Now delivered a creepy interpretation of grief.

Let the Wrong One In

Horror comedy is always a solid bet for our group. We love it, and even when it goes wrong, it is usually ridiculous enough to keep us entertained. Let the Wrong One In brings Irish vampires. One junkie brother shows up bitten instead of strung out, and things unravel from there. The movie is funny and entertaining as long as the brothers fumble in their own house. Once the story left that structure, it sort of lost cohesion.

Antlers

The big budget, mainstream closing night movie. I have very mixed feelings on Antlers. On the surface, it is a formulaic, highly produced, entertaining horror movie with a very good monster.

Yet the formula is also a bit tired. As the story borrowed the wendigo from Native culture, it felt like another instance of white characters telling a not white story. It could have been more interesting with a couple steps out of the typical box.

The ending is also pretty weak.

When the Screaming Starts

More horror comedy. When the Screaming Starts is a pseudo mockumentary about an aspiring serial killer starting a cult. The story has a lot of potential, yet much of the comedy does not land as strong as it should.

Broadcast Signal Intrusion

To be honest, I slept through part of this movie, so I’m not sure how inclusive my opinion can be. I was well schooled on the inspirations for the movie, which definitely made it more interesting. I found the first half very intriguing, a solid mystery. Then the movie lost steam. When I woke up for the ending, I was left confused and wanting (more so than from being unconscious).

Black Friday

I was potentially the most excited about Black Friday. Holiday horror comedy with Bruce Campbell? Yes please! I was expecting something in the vein of perhaps Krampus. I’m not sure what the fuck I got. I don’t know that the movie knew what it was.

I think I was expecting the commercial commentary to be foundational, a la Dawn of the Dead. Instead, it was more sprinkled like salt as random references. Then the threat shifts from zombie-like shoppers to some sort of amalgamation monster, and that transition is poorly portrayed. All the characters are extremely cliché, but it is not pushed far enough to be caricature. Ultimately, just so disappointing.

“Folked Up Horror” Shorts

Folk horror is not my preferred genre. I definitely have selections I enjoy, but I am in no way an expert. The shorts in the “Folked Up Horror” block were bizarre. The musical taxidermist in Stuffed is fantastic and more entertaining than I usually find musicals. Then The Wet Nurse personally traumatized me with breastfeeding flashbacks and horrifying potential. The others fell relatively flat or outright confusing.

Trivia

We always attend Fright or Wrong trivia and muddle our way through. By some miracle of betting on the right question last (in person) year, we won. We managed to pull it off again this year. This time, the feat was accomplished by the combination of having two experts in 80s horror combined with two strangers joining us more fluent in filmmakers and modern horror.

Win or lose, it is always a fun time. And ridiculously hard questions.

In the End

Despite whatever cycles or processing I had percolating under my surface, the breath this trip afforded me to acknowledge them was so needed. Vacations or breaks of any kind have been scarce since the pandemic, and I am glad that we used it for Telluride Horror Show. The fest managed to preserve itself and return post lockdown with the same level of horror, community, and events.

Can’t wait until next year!

Christina Bergling

https://linktr.ee/chrstnabergling

I want to give it all up.
All the striving.
All the pushing.
All the trying.
I just want to stop
and forget I ever wanted to.
I won’t.
But that’s what I want right now.
To quit.

Upon reflection, I realize I have motivation cycles. Perhaps more aptly, I have bouts of despair or abandonment compulsion (I WANT TO GIVE IT ALL UP) cycles.

I seem to fall into these sinkholes in the following circumstances:

Annually

As a horror author, fall is a significant time of year. Halloween and spooky season are ultimately horror season. This is the time of year when I should feel the most engaged, excited, and inspired. This is the time of year when everything I love should just be in the air around me. Yet, more and more each year, I just feel daunted. The expectations of the season have almost sucked the joy out of experiencing it.

Launching a Book

Again, a time when I should be thrilled. I am an author, and I have a book being published. This is what it is about! This is the success! Yet it is simultaneously so draining. It is like the last mile of a marathon or labor at the end of pregnancy. Yes, a wonderful accomplishment and bliss is on the other side, yet as it gets closer, it feels farther away. As I slog through promotional preparations and launch requirements and steel myself for the incoming negative reviews, it feels like I will never cross the line, my baby will never see the world.

Querying a Book

Trying to get a novel published may be a torment only surpassed by editing the damn thing. After pruning, packaging, fluffing, and presenting the manuscript with more diligence than when job hunting, my tender heart is only met with a barrage of rejection or silence. Insecurity, doubt, and self-loathing are all that swell to fill that void.

Looking at the Numbers

Any numbers. All of the numbers. Sales. Downloads. Reviews. Followers. Works in my library. No matter how I grow them, they seem insufficient. No matter how I scrape, they never seem to match the effort. Comparison is the thief of joy, as I tell my children, but these numbers are all based in comparison to other numbers I never meet.

Any of these things, all of these things weaken my resolve, cue my insecurities. Each beckons sweetly to just set down the heavy burden of the dream and let it simply float away forgotten.

This round, it is more than a beckon, and it is surely not sweet. I don’t just want to quit writing. Life itself is beating me up, for many reasons, and I want to quit just about everything. Add to this that I am experiencing ALL of these triggers at once. Fall and Halloween are approaching. Crystal Lake Publishing is releasing my novel Followers on September 24th. I am currently querying my novel Green Eyes to absolutely no success. And all my numbers mock me as my socials seem to have died.

It is all the things, all the things that make me want to give up on being an author.

What makes me not want to give up? Writing.
What am I not doing? Writing.

If I remain calm, I know from experience that these things will pass. I will excavate my motivation again. Yet the confluence of all the triggers compounding the angst and depression from the rest of life is challenging.

I feel overwhelmed and burned out. The chorus of the world right now.

I want to quit, but I am not going to. This too shall pass. I will ride this wave back into the writing for which I am here.

Christina Bergling

https://linktr.ee/chrstnabergling

I have been a woman online for a long time. Not to date myself, but I was a young girl back on AOL, making IM friends with absolute strangers. The platforms and technology have advanced substantially since that horrendous dial-up tone, yet that cyber reach across the world, that pseudo-anonymous access to strangers remains the same.

In my tenure, I have seem some things. In more recent years, I have had the decided displeasure to experience one laughable phenomena: the unsolicited dick pic.

Now, we could delve into the psychology of photographing one’s genitals then thrusting them upon a stranger via their DMs. I’m sure plenty of smarter people have already analyzed the topic. I definitely included it in my horror novel about online dating, The Rest Will Come. Because, honestly, can you write a book about online dating without including a few dick pics?

Maybe you have never snapped a picture of your engorged member. Maybe an uninvited phallus has never graced your inbox. Maybe they are part of your daily ritual. Maybe you love receiving a foreign eggplant snap and they brighten your day when they pop up on your screen.

Leaving motives and judgements aside, for those of you who send, let’s instead just touch on some basic dick pic etiquette. (Of course, “dick pic” suggests one kind of genitalia; however, I think these guidelines can be neutralized and applied to all gender expressions. Take the “dick” vernacular to mean whatever you like.)

Dick Pick Guidelines

If you feel compelled to document and share your anatomy, consider the following:

1. Consent – No dick pic should ever be unsolicited. There’s a reason exposing yourself without permission or in public in the real world is illegal. No one should open a message and be confronted with a piece of your body they did not agree to see. I suppose with a large enough sample, you might see some success and positive response. However, I have to think a targeted approach where you secure consent before the dick comes out would be more successful in the long term. Like real life, talk before you whip your dick out.

2. Sender Beware – As you are blasting pictures of your anatomy across the internet, consider permanence. Let’s remember that things on the internet are forever. Even with an expiring, view-once message, there are screen captures. Even a deleted thread still exists on a server somewhere. Just because you can no longer see it does not mean it is gone. I would caution not sending anything you do not want popping up in a more public forum. And if you are stepping out of a relationship, recall that your partner may recognize your member out wandering through other people’s inboxes. And if you did not refer to #1, this could become more of an issue.

3. Realism – No one thinks that porn still is you. No one believes you have studio lighting and a professional manscaper. If you have followed #1 and found someone who wants to see it and considered #2 and feel safe sharing, maybe use your actual dick. Otherwise, what are we even doing here? Unless perhaps the purpose of the exchange was phallic catfishing. If your intent is ultimately a physical follow through, they might notice.

4. Composition – If you have made it through #1 and #2 and even committed to #3, let’s talk about picture composition. I understand the convenience of shooting in the bathroom. Your pants are already down. Perhaps you saw your dick and thought it was popping in the lighting. But perhaps you could angle yourself to exclude the toilet. If you cannot crop that out, could you at least flush? You may be undermining your goals by not considering your background.

I appreciate the tempting, seeming anonymity of the internet. It can appear like a dark corner where no one will notice. In reality, it is more tracked and surveilled than the real world. When in doubt, follow the same rules that apply in the real world. Get permission. Don’t do something you’ll regret. If you’re going to do it, make it real and look good.

Ultimately, this is the internet. This is THE place to find the person who is into whatever you are into. So if you are into sending off pictures of your genitals, I wish you the best in finding a willing and happy recipient. A little cyber etiquette could not hurt in that endeavor.

Christina Bergling

https://linktr.ee/chrstnabergling

It’s June, so Happy Pride!

I never really talk about my own identity much because I have been in a monogamous heterosexual relationship for years now. I never had to come out or work to identify myself because I have never left that relationship. My bisexuality was always ancillary to it. I figured myself out under the safety of that umbrella. Since I am a white cisgendered woman living in a heterosexual relationship, I am cushioned by a lot of privilege, which often makes me feel more like an ally than a member of the community. I don’t want to occupy space on the platform I did not have to fight for. Yet, I still am what I am.

Since it is Pride Month, I thought it an appropriate time to write about representation, particularly in my own writing.

I am old enough to have watched representation drastically evolve in media. I can look back on some of the things from my childhood that were deemed so “progressive” that are now utterly cringy. That, in itself, is a sign of progress. Humans are slow to change, but representation does matter, perhaps for the people in the community seeing a reflection of themselves most of all.

But I, and the tiny little slice of media I produce, am changing too. My approach to representation in my writing has evolved lately, deliberately, and I can acknowledge that I don’t think I handled it correctly my entire writing career. Hell, I still don’t know that I have it figured out.

In my earlier writing, I physically describe my characters very ambiguously. As in, I never really fully physically describe them, or I never describe how they look at all. I may give you a detailed landscape of their entire marred psyche, but I leave their bodily traits nebulous. I may say a man has a stubbled chin, but what color is that stubble? What color is that skin? Is that chin on a square jaw or thick, doubled chin? Nope, nothing.

It is not that I did not visualize these characters in my mind. I saw them fully, every minute detail in full color and clarity. I just did not want to force my vision of them onto my readers. If my protagonist was a green eyed brunette with freckles, I wanted to allow one of my readers to make her another color or height or weight. I wanted to leave them open. I wanted my characters to be a “choose your own avatar” sort of experience.

The intention was inclusive. However, as I reflect on it, I do not know how effective it is. I question if, instead, it was more avoidant, just lacking the courage to tackle authentic representation. Can a character be a fully developed person without the influence of their race, size, all the physical traits that affect how the world treats them? Have I been doing my characters and their readers a disservice by leaving these details open?

I also did not make deliberate representation decisions. My writing ideas come to me like dreams, and I just capture them in words. I didn’t make calculating decisions on who and what to portray, like hitting demographics. Many of my characters have been in interracial relationships or have interracial children because that is my life so that is what my mind repeats to me. It is not exclusion so much as simple narcissism.

I could not leave my characters’ relationships as open to interpretation as their appearances. Their orientations were apparent when I included their partners. Yet, if I did not include their relationships, I did not really identify them. In The Waning, my narrator Beatrix is a lesbian and spends the majority of the book thinking about her girlfriend. In Followers, the friend and photographer Brady is a gay man living with his partner. But characters who are not active in dating or a relationship could be straight or queer or asexual. But should I have defined them? For everyone or just the significant characters?

So in my writing prior to 2020, I kept things open and flexible to be filled by what my reader brought to the page. Then I changed my mind and my approach, and true to my extremist nature, I went in the opposite direction. Where I used to avoid describing race, I made race a thematic element. Where I included LGBTQ characters, I made their experience part of the plot. In my new work in progress (WIP) novel, I made the deliberate choice to take the story and attempt to look at it from perspectives besides my own. I took what could be considered by experience and attempted to shove it away from the center of the narrative.

I don’t know if I am doing representation correctly now. The WIP has not even seen publication yet. I’m not even sure how wrong I was doing it before. But I am trying to learn, evolve, and do better. I am trying to find a way to tell my stories in a way that resonates with people, not just myself and not just people like me.

I enjoy seeing representation evolve and diversify in media. I know it still is not perfect. I know it still has strides to make. I just hope I can contribute in a positive direction. And if I am not, I hope someone out there will gently call me in to suggest where I can do better.

Christina Bergling

https://linktr.ee/chrstnabergling

So this month has been all author memes, which has been super fun for me (and hopefully you). But why all memes brilliantly created by others and no words from me? Here’s a mini vlog to explain!

Christina Bergling

https://linktr.ee/chrstnabergling

Every year, I do a review blog where I catalog all the writing and festivals and horror-related activities I have accomplished in the year. This year, frankly, I just don’t want to.

2020 was a shit in show. In 2020, I survived.

There will be a wave of blog posts this week, next week that say these same things. So again, I didn’t want to waste the keystrokes. But I am not working this week, so for the sake of consistency… here is my 2020 in review.

2020 began normally enough, but then as the COVID-19 pandemic erupted, it became something else entirely. Largely, everything I would do in person (horror movie festivals, book signings, horror movies, travel) was cancelled. I told myself that I would redirect my energies, that I would use my time at home to actually do the writing part of being an author.

Instead, I just sort of scraped through quarantine; I muddled through remote learning; I floundered through the “new normal.” Rather than redirected, I just kind of existed. At times, I fell apart.

Rather than rehash all the things that didn’t happen because of the Rona or lament how virtual experiences aren’t the same or summarize the rants I have spouted in therapy these past few months, I am going to focus on two simple things from my 2020. Two author things. I am going to step way out of character and silver lining 2020 a bit by looking back through a very restrictive lens.

Book #5

If nothing else during this abysmal year, I got a novel under a publication contract with Crystal Lake Publishing. Crystal Lake Publishing finally had a submissions window and accepted my novel Followers.

I am thrilled to be working with a new publisher and see this novel come into the world, especially during such a strange time.

In Followers, Sidney escapes from the disappointments of her life into the horror genre and conversations with online followers—until those virtual followers bring horror into her real life.

NaNoWriMo

I have never participated in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) before. I have always been too busy to commit to writing 50,000 words in one month. Yet a pandemic and successive quarantines seemed like the perfect opportunity. By November, I seemed to have adapted enough to actually begin to utilize my time.

50,000 words was much more challenging than I anticipated. It sounded so easy until I was grinding. It took undivided commitment on multiple occasions from me. Yet it was also nice to imagine what it would be like to write more. I proved to myself I could do it… and finished my novel in progress in the meantime.

During NaNoWriMo, I completed my novel Green Eyes. Green Eyes is my first meandering out of the horror genre since I have been published. Instead, I felt compelled to approach more real horrific topics.

As I cross into 2021, I will need to start editing the manuscript and finding a home for it. 2020 has taken the strive out of me. I am giving this book time, working it at a more natural pace. Maybe it was a lesson I needed to learn.

Happy New Year!

I don’t think the rolling of the calendar will magically change things. I don’t think the numbers humans assign days will influence global events. Yet I am still ready for the arbitrary close of the year. Even if it means nothing, I am going to attempt at the fresh start nonetheless.

2020 was not a completely loss. Every experience is worth something, but I am still looking forward to putting many experiences from those months behind me.

If nothing else, I will keep writing…

Christina Bergling

https://linktr.ee/chrstnabergling

Christina Bergling

https://linktr.ee/chrstnabergling

Well, here we are: pandemic Halloween.

Restrictions may vary by region, but in Colorado, Halloween celebrations as we know them are largely cancelled. No school costume parades, no drunken costume parties, no trick-or-treating. I hear pumpkin patches and haunted houses have been operating, but I have not been. Largely, the season has been reduced to decorations and horror movies.

Which begs the question, what is Halloween? What is the Halloween spirit? What makes Halloween Halloween?

Is it Halloween without trick-or-treating down a dark street, dead leaves crunching beneath your feet? Is it Halloween without disguising yourself in another character in a drunken crowd, losing yourself in the night? Is it Halloween without being scared in a haunted house or during horror movie marathons, clutching someone’s hand tight as you cry out?

For me, I would say Halloween is all of these things. And more. I take the entire month of October to indulge in Halloween, and I truly try to do it all. Pumpkins, haunted houses, horror film festivals, parties, costumes, trick-or-treating, all the things. And I have missed all those things this year.

I resolved earlier this month to try my best to adapt and enjoy October 2020 as best I could. I decorated, even though no one will really see the house. I got my kids Halloween costumes, even though they won’t be trick-or-treating. I attended the Telluride Horror Show, even though it was all online. I decided to go all in, even if there wasn’t much we could do.

Even though it feels frivolous and borderline fucking stupid this year, I am wearing and posting my Hallowear every day. I am playing #31DaysofHorror bingo and watching a horror movie every day. Inside the house, it is still everything October and everything Halloween. I try to force myself into that Halloween spirit.

Yet it does not feel the same. Because the Halloween experience, like so many things, has a community element. Trick-or-treating includes going around a neighborhood, to other doors. Parties include groups of costumed friends, neighbors, or classmates. Haunted houses are filled with the screams of people.

The real terror this year is the distance and the isolation. The real fear is all the unknown ahead. And those are not the fun kind of horror that Halloween is about.

I just finished writing a novel that ultimately questions if someone can love the horror genre after real horror has happened in her life. That theme echoes strangely in my head these days.

Personally, I do not think Halloween is embodied by any one activity or celebration. I think it is a unique expression for each person. It means different things to different people so can’t be quantified by trick-or-treating or getting drunk dressed like a slutty pumpkin. So a pandemic Halloween can still be Halloween. It just might take some creativity and commitment.

Every year is not going to be perfect. Every year is not going to be the same. I can resign myself to letting 2020 go, to doing the best I can with the options available.

This year, Halloween might be watching Trick ‘r Treat with a bowl full of Reese’s pumpkins and a tall pour of whiskey in my Morticia costume on the couch… but it would still be Halloween. Just Halloween 2020.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is christinamaskmeyhem-5.jpg

Christina Bergling

https://linktr.ee/chrstnabergling