Personal Essay: Moaner T. Lawrence
Hi, I’m Moaner T. Lawrence, and I haven’t taken a writing class since freshman year of college. I began what would eventually become my writing career at an office job in Long Island, New York during my lunch breaks. Instead of going out with the rest of my co-workers, every day, for about 30 to 45 minutes, I’d do my best to crank out 1000 words.
I was in my early twenties, had recently lost my mother, and was helping my father to run and support our household, while assisting in raising my baby brother who was thirteen years my junior. That meant working an average of two to three jobs, attending college part-time, and, as you can imagine, at the end of the day I was just too tired to read at the pace necessary to become a professional writer. Stephen King tells us (And he’s right!) if you don’t have time to read, you can’t be a writer. You need to be acquainted with as much literature as possible in order to successfully create a product for the today’s audiences. Readers pay to be entertained. How are you going to entertain anyone if you show them something they’ve seen already?
However, at the end of the day I’d seen so many horror movies that I hated, that I was determined to create something that at least entertained me. It occurred to me that I had a fairly good pocket of time between commutes on the Long Island Expressway and Old Country Road. I also owned an anthology of Poe stories read by celebrities like Gabriel Byrne and Christopher Walken called Closed on Account of Rabies. So every day for about two years, I out-Heroded Herod, spending my commutes with the father of American Gothic Literature. It was great, but as I continued typing, I noticed my writing either sounded an awful lot like Poe (there are worse things), and there were times I was stumped on how to say something because I couldn’t find the right words. Oh, I knew what I wanted to convey, but I wasn’t sure just how to say it most effectively. That is the difference between selling your manuscript and a rejection notice. I didn’t understand concepts like pacing, I wasn’t sure how long my stories should be, and I was very limited in my understanding as to what I could do.
In 2007 I discovered Pseudopod: The World’s Premiere Horror Fiction Podcast in Rue Morgue #83, and my whole world changed. Pseudopod promoted modern horror writing—some amateur, some not, and it was free to download. Stories like Simon Strantzas’ “Fading Light” and Christopher Michael Cummings’ “Full Moon Over 1600” pushed me to aim for something greater. Pseudopod is where I chose to debut my fiction career, and today I’m Pseudopod’s assistant editor. I’m proud to work for this podcast because while there are those who still deny the format even exists, The Pod raises the bar for what horror writing should be. Pseudopod advances our genre and format while offering deep insights on the stories. If you’re a horror writer, you know getting into Pseudopod means something, because it has a 3% acceptance rate. Pseudopod helped me break in, and if you’re committed and determined enough, it can help you too.