Facets of a Muse

Examining the guiding genius of writers everywhere


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Ah, it’s the week before All Hallow’s Eve. Bats, ghosts, goblins, and everything else we like to associate with October 31st are plastered everywhere we look. Enthusiastic individuals even practice for Christmas decorating by hanging Halloween lights and planting inflatable pumpkins and skeletons on their front lawns.

Halloween is a great muse for a lot of people. The occasion inspires everything from horror stories to costumes to haunted houses or yards. Some people spend months designing that year’s Halloween display or party menu. Of all the holidays we celebrate (or observe, at the very least), Halloween seems to be the most inspiring muse, with Christmas a close(?) second. No, really. Think about it. There’s even multiple movie franchises based on Halloween, or Halloween characters, or Halloween nightmares.

The characters commonly associated with Halloween have invaded more than just the October 31 festivities. The number of books and movies and television series highlighting vampires is mind-boggling. And zombies. I cannot believe how many people are zombie connoisseurs. Just look at success of The Walking Dead. There was even a zombie pub crawl in Minneapolis this year toted as the largest of its kind. I met with a group of writers last week, and of the four of us, two were serious zombie fans. My husband is a member of that fan club as well; we’ve been binge-watching the Walking Dead on DVD (since we don’t get cable), plus he recently discovered a DVD with 15 zombie movies on it. Let the eye-rolling commence.

Zombies, vampires, werewolves, Frankenstein’s monster, mummies (hey, sounds like a Lon Chaney, Jr. and Boris Karloff reunion), ghosts, goblins. Witches. Evil clowns, dolls, cars, leprechauns, dogs. Halloween is traditionally a holiday that emphasizes the things we are afraid of, though we try to make things far more fun for kids (no parent wants to be woken by a kid who has nightmares). But originally the day was a celebration of the harvest and the eve of Winter.

Halloween for kids from about 15 to 115 tends to be on the scary side. Terrifying even. If a haunted house doesn’t make you scream, or a movie doesn’t give you goosebumps or make you turn on all the lights in the house, it isn’t scary enough for Halloween. Maybe it’s cute enough for Halloween, though, like the Great Pumpkin. Or Shrek.

So here’s a challenge for you and your muse. Write a short story or a couple of scenes where October 31 is a fun, bright, happy day everyone looks forward to. Think of it as the bunny/duckie side of autumn (as opposed to spring). It’s still autumn, and on the cusp of winter (in the Northern Hemisphere). Call it Halloween, or Samhain, or Winter’s Eve. Use the muse of Halloween to reveal the other face of the holiday, the one not dark and spooky and scary. But no zombies. I am beyond tired of zombies. Make that no zombies, vampires, werewolves, mummies, or Franken-whatevers.

Can you do it? Can you make Halloween fuzzy and cuddly and fun? Share your answer if you like.


Author: Julie Holmes, author

Pen names: J. M. Holmes, J. M. Goebel A fiction writer since elementary school (many years ago), and NaNoWriMo annual participant for a decade, I've been published in small press magazines such as "Fighting Chance" and "The Galactic Citizen". I write adult mystery with a touch of romance, mystery with extrasensory elements, contemporary fantasy, and epic fantasy, and I'm represented by the fabulous Cynthia Zigmund of Second City Publishing Services. In real life, I am a technical writer with a family of two teens, a wonderful hubby, one cat (what writer doesn't have cats??), two dogs, two chickens, and more chipmunks, squirrels, and rabbits than any garden should have to deal with. My garden, our hobby farm, and Nature's annual seasons are some of my muses.

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