Inevitably, the conversation goes something like this:
"I'm a writer, are you a writer?"
Me: "Oh, yes! It's so great to meet you!"
"So what do you write?"
"I write horror? Pretty sure I said horror..."
"Oh. Well, I can't do horror. I'm too scared. I could never read your work."
Horror. That's my word. If you know me, talk to me more than five seconds, that's the word that inevitably will fall out of my mouth. Each time, I get the same response (unless the other writer likes or is considering writing some vein of horror). Yeah, no really, I pretty much write only horror for all ages. It might have science fiction or fantasy or supernatural elements, but yes, always.
Here's the thing. I am probably as big, if not a bigger chicken, than you.
For example, I can't stand visceral gore, creepy children, zombies or anything to do with organs, children getting hurt in any way, surgery, hospitals, demons, the list goes on. And by can't stand, I mean I will stay awake all night with the lights on because I can't get the images out of my head. Ninety percent of horror films scare me. No, really.
So when I say my word is horror, I come to it with knowing that at one time I was too scared to write it. I thought, I love going to horror movies and reading Stephen King, but could I do it too? I tried it out for one class in college and my teacher thought I should push it farther. I was scared to. I froze up. I didn't want to write horror! That was for "CREEPY PEOPLE," or so I thought at the time. After much coaxing, I tried a little more. I made my scares bigger, my reactions larger. I wrote about the stuff that scared me and a light bulb went off.
I could combat my own fears by writing about them.
I've grown a lot since the first feeble steps into this genre. My latest book is all about anxiety, panic attacks, and how to deal with your body's inability to cope when the world may or may not actually be crumbling all around you. You can't shut it off, you can't stop panic attacks from happening - you can only learn the triggers and try to avoid provoking the sleeping dragon. Horror gave voice to my reality, to my worst fears, and allowed me to conquer them on the page.
Now I have come to realize happily that my word is definitely "horror." No matter how many funny looks I get, it's a genre I plan on sticking with for a long time.