Horror, Insanity, and the Censorship of Both

Dear Subscriber,

I have often written about insanity because I was insane during my twenty years of substance abuse. I will include a poem about what recovery “feels like” to my poet self, but nothing can truly express the many stressful moments with the “crutch” of substances to keep me numbed to the world and its constant assortment of stressors and problems.

In fact, I am currently a little “crazy” concerning censorship in the United States, especially as it concerns fiction and horror/thriller fiction specifically. I will give you a free read (attached), and briefly discuss my concerns as an author and creative artist:

Censorship and the consideration of what is truly “horrific” is, changes with the times. This story (attached), “The Small Assassin,” came out with the collection by artist/writer Ray Bradbury in 1962: The October Country.
Not only is this collection a primer for any author who aspires to write, but it is especially important for anybody who aspires to break down taboos that any cultures might weave to screen out unpleasant and very scary thoughts about the world as it exists.
I would hazard a guess and say that if Ray had turned this story, “The Small Assassin” in to any of the online horror anthologies and/or publishers in most countries in the world today, it would be rejected immediately. Political Correctness (on both sides of the political divide) would not approve of its tone, it’s subject matter, and its inherent violence with underage children.
Me? I think it’s probably one of best crafted, high concept, pulse-throbbing and horrific pieces of horror “art” ever written. But that’s just my opinion, of course. Like assholes today, everybody has one, I guess. Trolls, gripers, protectors, religionists, holier-than-thouists, and all manner of self-serving folks would find this story extremely repulsive, but if we examine what Bradbury does in it, we find it is merely an author’s trick or slight of hand.
Any creative writer worth his/her salt thinks up cool concepts about which to develop into way cooler plots and stories that occupy a reader’s head for an hour or so, depending upon the speed of this reader and his/her attention span (a big consideration, as we today have micro-fiction stories!).
I read his horror story “The Small Assassin.” It’s an almost perfect story concept. A newborn who has evil “adult” intentions coming out of the womb. He wants to kill his parents, and he does it! Bradbury knew about folk tales, like the one about the baby Buddha being able to talk and walk shortly after being born. So, I guess he just turned it around and made this baby the “evil mirror” of the Buddha or Jesus child. What a great fucking story! Makes me think I’ll never be a superb writer like he was.
But one thing is for certain, I can learn at age 77 about how a great horror story is crafted, and how it gets from the brain of a creative to the written page. Perhaps you might also agree. We need to break down these barriers to true art and allow readers the pleasures of finely wrought and tremendously crafted fiction!
You can read novels and stories about insanity in my work here, here, here, and here.

Poem about escape through drugs/alcohol.

The Pink Cloud
I forgot about the pink cloud.
The early mornings waking up sober.
In the recovery home. Steak for dinner!
Where was I? In drunk heaven?
After living sober 38 years, one loses touch.
With those early, poignant days.
Rushing around, hundreds of meetings.
Shaking newcomers’ hands.
Your body shaking at the beer signs at ball games.
The abusers in the films about drunks and addicts.
Becoming a bawling idiot at anything remotely
Spiritual. A song. Lips. A blade of grass. Anything.
The Pink Cloud Syndrome of early sobriety.
Tracking your sponsor down after you got drunk the last time.
He finally releases you into the “real world.”
A stamped brother mark on your personal and honest inventory.
Then, after the gild has been scraped off the lily.
And years go by, like fleeting sparrows in the bushes.
You meet a female. A newcomer. Six months clean.
She asks you about drinking wine.
You share, remembering you planted your second wife
With the daisies, only six years before. You never drank.
Two years of changing diarrhea diapers, washing, kissing,
Communication with silence and with smiles.
This one, too, sees that silence is truly golden.
That we humans talk too fucking much about everything!
We analyze and don’t utilize much of anything.
She’s an abstract artist, not a writer, like me.
Men aren’t supposed to work with women in sobriety.
The target is on both your backs.
But each day, each moment, sharing from afar.
The days get better. Your writing gets better.
You open again, like a sunflower, to a new, precious world.
Seen through her eyes. Her promise. Her hope.
Don’t crush me now, H.P.—please!
It’s too good to be true.
2023 by J. Musgrave
Finally, here’s a recent horror story I crafted referencing the character (above) in my poem about early sobriety. It’s in my Google Doc. Let me know if you like it.
Thanks, and have a wonderful weekend and stay safe!
Kind Regards,
James Musgrave
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