After you’ve been writing for a while, the bloom starts to fall off the rose. There are a lot of reasons this happens, but unless you’re incredibly lucky, moving from project to project, the next bigger than the last, and constantly the recipient of admiration from all corners, at some point the grind of it all is going to get to you. I’ve sometimes wondered if becoming a writer makes a person more susceptible to these bouts of moodiness, or if it’s just that one must be the moody sort to become a writer.
Either way, a few years ago I hit a spot of disillusionment where I couldn’t find the motivation to write a story, spend weeks editing and revising, then spend another who-knows-how-long looking for places to send it. I just didn’t have it in me at the time. But, strangely, I still had stories I wanted to tell. So what I did was tell them. I wrote. And once I completed a draft of a story I filed it away and started on another. I knew one day the dark clouds would break, and I felt pleased knowing that when they did I’d have a stack of pieces ready to be finished. I guess you could call them parboiled stories.
“That House” (Bourbon Penn 25, 2021) is not one of those stories. “That House” is the story that broke up the clouds. Or, at the very least, was there when the clouds broke. It was the first story after this period that I wanted to finish. I needed to see not just how it ended, but how it looked when it was complete. I needed to finish finish it.
There’s not a lot of backstory about what led to me writing this specific story. It came from the same place stories come from—a constantly churning sea of influences that produce some unique combination that can’t be attributed to any one source. The biggest point of interest (by which I mean that which is most different from my other stories) is it’s a story about stories: the ones we tell, and the ones we tell ourselves. It’s one of those meta stories, whatever that means.
But if you’re looking for a reason to read it, maybe the description I posted to Facebook about it once sums it up: it’s a haunted house story that makes you ask your loved ones, “Do you think this might be a haunted house story?”