Guest blog post by a co-author of The Box Under The Bed, Curtis Bausse
I’ve never met Dan.
I imagine him as a bundle of concentrated enthusiasm,
which, if it’s true, makes him rare indeed: entheos, from which the word is derived, means “divinely inspired, possessed by a god.”
In this case, the god of blogging, self-publishing and book promotion. But I’ve seen him on YouTube, and he moves and speaks just like the rest of us (except with an American accent), so on the whole I lean towards the conclusion that he is in fact human.
Nonetheless, the mystery remains:
How does he do it?
Divine or not, there’s a whole lot of entheos in his commitment to writing.
And not just his own, that’s the thing. He cheers us all on tirelessly, spreading entheos through cyberspace till eventually some of it even seeps into jaded souls like me.
So when he asked for contributions to The Box Under The Bed, I thought, ‘Hmm… Maybe I’ll give this a shot.’
A month to write a story, a scary one. The deadline itself was scary. Not that I write very slowly, but I like to set my work aside for a couple of months before I revise. So this was a challenge. And scary, I discovered as I hunted for my inner Stephen King, isn’t easy. In films, yes – all it takes is quivering music or a sudden scream.
But in writing?
You’ve got to take the reader to a place they believe in, get them to leave the world they know, where ghosts and ghouls don’t exist, and see what your characters see, be with them in their terror.
To me, that’s a matter of point of view.
You’re not asking your reader to believe in the supernatural, but in your characters’ perceptions.
And people, as we know, see all sorts of things we don’t believe in ourselves. The face of Jesus in a tortilla. An eerie light hovering in a graveyard. Why, I’ve even heard it said that Donald Trump is President of America. How ridiculous is that? But it makes for an excellent horror story.
I got mine done with a few days to spare, which is just as well because it needed considerable revision. Dan, like any good editor, pointed me in the right direction, especially with regard to cutting.
The reason I usually lay my work aside is that when I come back to it, it’s easier to spot those passages I thought were brilliant at the time but in fact only get in the way.
But Dan did the spotting for me, whole paragraphs getting the chop till the result was leaner and fitter. We had a little exchange about ‘show, don’t tell,’ which in my view puts it too simply, but once you take it as a sort of shorthand for a principle that in general is sound, it’s easier to go along with.
It’s been a great experience all round.
Collaborating with other writers is always rewarding, and Dan’s infectious energy is uplifting.
I edit an anthology myself, now in its second year, and working with Dan has taught me a lot. Furthermore, it’s broadened my scope as a writer. I was never tempted by the horror genre before, but now I have two more ideas begging me to put them into words. Just be patient, I tell them, I’ll get round to you in due course.
And of that I’m sure because now, thanks to Dan, I have the entheos.