This is the season for scaring ourselves. Many people -- including my husband -- love to binge horror movies. They seek the thrills of monster mayhem. Grotesque ghouls. Dastardly demons.

I don't like to watch those things. My demons will whisper to me any time of the year. But the awful things they tell me are not what scare me the most.

I'm terrified of nodding off to sleep in front of the TV. Being spoon fed bland mush. White bread. Weak tea. In other words, the thing that scares me most is BEING BORED.

I distinctly remember facing that fear during a trip many years ago. I had finished whatever book I had brought along to read. I was at a bus station -- preparing for the next leg of my journey. But I would have to travel sans novel! Horrors! That could not be. I had to select something from whatever was being sold by the magazines and papers at the station. There was a copy of Norman Mailer's MARILYN -- probably because of its racy cover. I snatched it up and somehow survived the rest of my trip.

Being bored has other dangerous implications for a writer. Sometimes when I am rereading what I have written the worst of all possible things happens. My mind wanders. Hmm. What's for lunch? Did I remember to make that dental appointment? Is that a squirrel scampering across the backyard? Yes, the worst has happened. My own story fails to interest me. I AM BORED. 

And if I'm bored, then pity the poor reader -- even if he happens to be my husband who vowed to love, honor, and be my beta reader. 

Fortunately whenever I make that discovery, I have learned that something has gone really wrong with my plot or my character -- or probably both. It's time to dig deeper. Raise the stakes. Add a subplot. Delete delete delete.  

I suppose that is the reason that we fear anything––to avert disaster. My fear of boredom has saved me many times in the past. I hope it will continue to do so.

JANE KELLEY is the author of many middle grade novels, including the ghost story THE GIRL BEHIND THE GLASS.  




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