May 26th, 2011 - Amanda Headlee
On this warm spring morning, I’m drowning in a miasma of wedding planning for a wedding that won’t occur until later in the year. But you know what… that story isn’t wholly my own to tell and doesn’t have a great ending. It’s a tale for another day. Instead, the story I’ll share is about where I became lost and how one of my inner demons helped me to find myself.
On that May day in 2011, The Sarcastic Muse (a.k.a. TSM) flourished to life. In the beginning, there were five authors: Robyn LaRue, Michelle Muller, Chris Musgrave, Kirsten Blacketer, and me. Each of us were at the dawn of our writing careers. We created TSM to document our endeavors and learnings as we progressed along our author’s journey. Combined we had wit, humor, love, seriousness, and bloodlust (the latter occurs when there are two horror writers in the group).
It was a time in my life that I’ll cherish because we collaborated as close friends despite being scattered across the world. For years, we publicly shared our writing experiences, successes, emotions, and failures. TSM had a nice sized following for a group of new authors. Our followers were incredible and lovely people.
Yet life has a funny way of shaking things up when things going well. Between 2015 and 2016, TSM slowly disbanded due to personal situations and constraints. For me, remember that mention of a wedding? In 2015, I disappeared from the writing scene due to events that led to a divorce. For almost four years afterwards, words eluded me. It’s shocking how one person can ruin your dreams. How they can destroy your trust and faith in others. Out of that situation, a little tormentor named Doubt was born into my inner demon family.
Just before things fell apart, I’d written a Wendigo horror story. The story’s feedback from my TSM family was incredible and they urged me to find it a home. Yet, Doubt convinced me the tale wasn’t good enough. She locked it away and hid the key.
Oh, those pesky demons. All authors have them. Some authors hate theirs. I’ve learned to love mine. While they are tricksters, in the end they only want what’s best. A few may say it’s out of selfishness because they cannot exist without us. Whatever the case may be, Doubt knew she was saving me because my Wendigo story wasn’t ready to be told. I needed to grow more before ‘The End’ was written.
Doubt relinquished the story at the end of 2019 after I began to find the writing craft and myself again. The trigger: I recognized I was continually pressured to put my goals aside for others—and I repeatedly caved to that pressure. As I became more self-aware, my demons quieted; they watched and waited. In response, the Wendigo short story expanded into my first novel, now titled Till We Become Monsters. The journey to complete this novel helped me to heal and stop placing my aspirations aside for someone else. Relationships are to be a balance between two people’s lives. If one can’t understand that or doesn’t want to participate in supporting each other’s dreams, then get out of the way.
I’ve come far in these past ten years. While there’s still a long way to go, I’m now in a peaceful place. My demons are content. We live harmoniously together. They watch out for me and I tell them what to do: Shut up, sit down, and hang on because this is going to be one wild ride!
Amanda Headlee has a fascination with the emotion of fear and believes it is the first emotion humans feel at the moment they are born. The fear of humanity’s insignificance in the vastness of the Universe intrigues Amanda and she has spent her entire life crafting works of dark fiction associated with folklore and cosmic horror. Amanda's short stories appear in several anthologies, such as CONSUMED: Tales Inspired by the Wendigo and Somewhere in the Middle of Eternity. She is also a book reviewer for The Horror Tree. You can follow Amanda on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and at her website.