I’ve said before that I conceived of DEEP DOWN in a bad place, and it’s a bad place that I’ve returned to a lot over the last four years, but during this current plague, I’m returning far more often. All I want to do is hide in my closet with the lights off and never come out. It’s a place of despair, but it’s somewhere I can’t get sick, a place where nothing can hurt me except myself–and I’m all too used to that.
Social distancing/quarantine appeals to an alarming tendency inside of me toward agoraphobia. On a daily basis, I once made myself leave the house, get in my death trap (aka, the car), to be around people, which is good even for this extreme introvert. I was a productive member of society, because I had to be. I am compelled to be useful, because I don’t have a lot else that I can do for this world.
But now I’m afraid of people more than usual (I suffer from a fairly mild paranoia that has only slipped from neurotic to psychotic once, and I’d rather never relive that experience), because everyone’s a potential carrier, and I’m not sure under what circumstances I would feel safe entering my death trap just to walk into a few more on a regular basis. I’m concerned about whether I’ll ever trust the end of this nightmare. I was lucky enough to keep my dayjob, because I can telecommute and it’s a 24/7 business even during a pandemic. Would that accommodation continue indefinitely? Or would I just accept my fate as a red shirt, like I always do, accept the risk because I’m cosmic cannon fodder and know it?
I’m scared, because I have things I still want to do, things I want to finish, and I don’t trust that I will make it out of this. Because I wouldn’t be that lucky.
So this is a perfect time to be preparing DEEP DOWN, my utterly bleak apocalypse novel, for publication. I submerge myself in that place on purpose every day to make it better. In a way, it’s wallowing. In a way, it’s therapeutic. Because I’m in that place all day and all night now, I can recognize the feelings that the story invokes, appreciate that I achieved such a reflective translation into fiction, because it doesn’t feel enough like fiction to me while I’m in it.
I’ve been listening to THE RING and SILENT HILL soundtracks on repeat all during the editing/proofreading process.
I’m insanely pleased with DEEP DOWN on so many levels. I’m proud that I managed to write a short novel when I didn’t think I was capable of it, worried that I was, in fact, too wordy. I’m proud that I tried a new style of writing. It’s completely mine, of course, not a mimicry–I still recognize my narrative voice, no question. But I’m a fan of form following function, and DEEP DOWN was a different kind of novel than I’d written before, different feel, so the form of it needed to change. As terrible and unrelenting as the subject matter is, I’m proud that I faced it without compromise. I’m a coward at heart. Writing is as close as I get to brave, even if it’s not an uplifting outcome.
It’s not a contagion horror story, but it’s an apocalypse, and perhaps this isn’t the right moment, if anyone’s listening or watching or interested. But DEEP DOWN is coming soon, hopefully within the next week. You don’t have to enter that world now. You can save it for when the lion’s out of the room again. I still have trouble making that distinction.
A man and his dog enter a cave to die.
Enter with them, but I make no bones about what kind of story this is. Know where you’re going, and enter freely. It’s good–or at least I think it is–but it is what it is. I can only think of one person in my vast circle of family, friends, and acquaintances (I exaggerate) who wants or would want to read it. Do as you will.