America has a new president, and I keep writing out it. Not in a direct way, but in the way that I’ve pretty much always written about my fears. Take a look at 2016. That was the year where much of my writing involved either slugs or self-mutilation (of the eyes in particular). Slugs (or, more accurately, soft amorphous bodies) and objects inserted into the eye are two pretty major fears of mine. And without even knowing it, I wrote about them and more than once. They cropped up in my surrealist prose and my poetry and in my horror fiction. Sometimes I wrote about them with affection. Sometimes with fairly obvious disgust. Always with fear.
This past week, I attended Edinburgh’s Fantasy & Folklore conference whose theme was fear. The attendees and participants comprised perhaps the largest group of self-proclaimed fantasy nerds I’ve ever had the honour of being a member of. Everyone I spoke to was passionate, genuine, kind. I’m not going to make some wild sweeping statement that all fantasy lovers are wonderful people, but… The presentations, on everything from Harry Potter to the Lord of the Rings to pirates and witches and vampires, were thought-provoking. I was inspired.
I also presented my first-ever conference paper. It was a brilliant experience. I got to read a little-known surrealist woman writer’s (Gisele Prassinos) horror fairy story to a captive audience. There was a worm, and brains were eaten. I think it went over well.
For the final hours of the conference, I attended back-to-back creative writing workshops hosted by Harriet MacMillan (@harrietta3), one of the conference organisers, and Kirsty Logan (@kirstylogan), a local horror/fairy tale writer who I greatly admire. We talked about our fears. We wrote about them. I’ve never done this before — putting my fears onto paper and reading them aloud to a kind group of strangers and then actively writing about them. I was surprised by what I uncovered.
This year, buoyed by a fantastic writing group and Pret’s 99p filter coffees (goodbye, Starbucks! A new cheap coffee alternative is in town, and it won’t cauterise my intestines, ha!), I’m still writing my fears. I’ve written about Trump’s ‘alternative facts’, his bullying tactics, his gaslighting. Yes, I’ve written about slugs (again), but this time, as a thick slug-like rain threatens to immobilise a town, the townspeople strap shovels onto their backs, tighten the laces of their spiked boots, and get ready for the resistance.
Angie Spoto is an American fiction writer and poet. Writers who inspire her include Angela Carter, Leonora Carrington, and Ursua Le Guin. Her most recent endeavours include a lyrical essay about her Italian family, a horror fairy tale, and a supernatural crime novel.