UGLY DUCKLINGS

Since rebuilding my Powersurge Blog after almost a decade, I contemplated what to first write about. I drew a blank, and this blog has sat empty for weeks. I don’t want to do reviews here, I can do that all day long at my podcast or for a publication I’ll get paid to write for. So what to do… what to do…

Then it hit me this past weekend as I tossed and turned in an unfamiliar bed at a friend’s camp, secluded in the Adirondack Mountains, an hour drive away from any cell phone or internet access. Twenty-nine blissful hours of unplugged glory led to a single conclusion.  

I’m not one of the pretty people. I’m okay with this.

I never have been. It leads to the cliche joke in podcasting, the self-deprecating “I’ve got a face only radio can love.” Groan or laugh at the remark, it’s true. I accepted it years ago. It’s not necessarily my appearance. I’m not a bad looking guy, but some aspects of my personality are tarnished by hubris or bruised by failures. Thankfully, I’m not alone. I’ve noticed something on my walkabout through the creative community, the last five or six years, and especially the niche that is horror. 

None of us, not a single writer or artist, are the pretty people. 

We’re all a bunch of ugly ducklings. We’re all damaged goods in some aspect or another. Some of us fight against personal demons, while others hide them. We’re outcasts. Too dark for fantasy. Too grim for the utopias of science fiction. Too weird to fit into the mainstream. Too real to be romantic. We’re ugly ducklings others keep at arm’s length. We’re the literal embodiment of the Island of Misfit Toys. 

I say we’re ugly ducklings and I mean it, but I don’t say it as a negative or as a dig at anyone’s appearance. Much like the fable surrounding the maligned waterfowl, we are able to overcome our ugly shortcomings and we are blessed with the ability to channel our fears. Not all of it is pretty, some of it is as deplorable as our own Ids and Egos. But through this magic, we can produce unmatched beauty. 

Many of our fans are ugly ducklings themselves and find solidarity with us as a result. Because horror is so diverse with its subgenres, it opens doorways. Quiet horror shatters your will to live and fills you with dread on par with the worst anxiety attacks, yet it is this very rollercoaster of hormonal influence on our thoughts that our readers crave. On the flip side, extreme horror, a carnographic mess, finds beauty hidden in the chaos of violence. 

We may be ugly, but our art allows us a privilege, one we are bound to share with our fellows. It shows the other ugly ducklings, they’re not alone. Our art shows these people it’s okay to be ugly, it’s not a flaw. When a person realizes they are not alone, they, too, can achieve wonders. It’s funny how that works, the more we, as creatives, practice our art, the more disciplined we become, the better we become. Then later, at the end of the day, just like that fucking duckling, we can go to bed feeling sexy about what we accomplished.

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