out of the way

Welcome Great Pumpkin

“There are three things that I’ve learned never to discuss with people:
religion, politics, and the Great Pumpkin.” – Linus

I’ve always liked Linus. Of the Peanuts characters, no other embodies idealism, kindness, and even wisdom in quite the same way. As a kid, I never missed his annual attempts to woo the Great Pumpkin with “the most sincere” pumpkin patch. Hell, as an adult, I have that (and every other) Peanuts special on DVD. I still appreciate his wide-eyed devotion.

I think it’s because I still believe Halloween is a magical night. Really.

Anyone of any age can dress up and it’s okay. You can be whatever you want on Halloween. Yes, there are plenty of adults who scoff at the idea of participation, but I fail to understand why. It’s fun, and I don’t ever plan on outgrowing it. Call me childish if you want. I like dress-up. And candy. Who doesn’t like candy?!

Halloween is one of the rare times when we can truly drop our guard. And yet, like Linus, I’ve learned there are things you shouldn’t discuss with just anyone. Guard-dropping is right up there with religion, politics, and the Great Pumpkin. Tell someone they have permission to drop their guard and watch them rocket to the emotional equivalent of DEFCON 1.

If you want to be a writer, you’ve got to get over that shit.

We writers sit in pumpkin patches, sincere pumpkin patches, mumbling soliloquies about our imaginary friends (we call them characters) and dreaming of epic events others would say never happen in the real world. At least, that’s what we do when we’re really on. But the moment we start to worry about what the other kids will think of our pumpkin patch vigils the spell is broken. Then we’re doomed to write flat stories about characters who don’t take risks, and it’s little wonder. A writer who takes no risks can’t very well relate the stories of characters who do.

Personally, I try to inject a little Halloween into every writing session, freeing my mind to wander wherever it wants. I strip away the rules of civility normally baked in and just go. And on All Hallows’ Eve, I really let loose. It’s not a day to be prim and proper. Not in my book. It’s a day to be as carefree as any kid. I revel in it. I watch horror movies, and attend (or throw) Halloween parties, and eat a shit ton of candy, and, yes, I dress up.

I’m not saying you have to mirror my approach. If Halloween isn’t your thing, that’s okay. But I think writers should practice the fine art of divorcing themselves from reality and giving their imaginations enough room to really romp. Your best stories are already inside of you. The challenge of great writing isn’t hunting them down. It’s getting out of the way so they can come out and play.

Have a happy and safe Halloween.


About Ash Martin
Ash Martin writes dark fantasy and horror, has a thing for classic monster legends, Nordic mythology, coffee, and sarcasm, and is currently working on multiple books.

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