When I was in high school, I wrote articles for my church youth group’s newsletter. Usually I contributed silly short stories, or a report on how an activity had gone, but sometimes I promoted upcoming events. In tenth grade, I was asked to write about a retreat planned for Halloween weekend, at a nearby camp called The Highlands.
I had been there many times, and enjoyed spending time with my friends in the cozy cabins, surrounded by essentially old growth woods and fields. Particularly beautiful in the fall, the property had been purchased for use as a camp by a group of Presbyterians in the late 1800’s.
The previous owner had been an early Ohio pioneer named Hezekiah, who had lived on the property with his wife, Martha, and their two grown sons. A mile or so from the camp’s cabins were four graves under an old tree, their final resting place. Misfortune had stalked the family in the form of a large white dog, who had contracted rabies and attacked them all before meeting his own unhappy fate. One by one, the family succumbed, until no one was left. Legend had it that for some reason, Hezekiah’s head stone would intermittently topple over, and when that occurred, the white dog would roam again and attack unsuspecting campers.
Inspired, I wrote a great article for the newsletter, incorporating the sad story of Hezekiah and his family, making sure to mention that Hezekiah’s headstone was in fact down again, just in time for Halloween. Mwa ha ha.
It turned out to be a very successful event. More people than usual attended, and everyone had a good time. Except for me. After relaying the details of Hezekiah’s unfortunate demise, I was too scared to go!
When I write, it is a little like being a fly on the wall of my own imagination. Last week, when I decided to provide a murder scene for the blogfest, I wasn’t sure that I really wanted to buzz into the “morbid” room again, but I did it as a personal challenge. It ended up being creepy, but fun, and I got a lot of nice comments. (Thank you, Commenters!)
The moral of the story: Take a chance and write something that you might not be perfectly comfortable with. When the retreat is over and you didn’t go, you’ll only regret it.