Weird, I know. And it's about my greatest fear. And my greatest triumph.
I read this blog entry by my Twitter-friend and beta reader extraordinaire @quickmissive and couldn't stop thinking about the boogeyman.
I think I've mentioned the manuscript she references, INK & BONE. It's a creepy YA and a book very close to my heart. One of the central themes is that everyone has an encounter with a boogeyman, whether it's a real threat or an imagined one. I've had both.
I remember when I was in middle school, there was a big kerfuffle over a dude driving around our area, trying to lure girls into his car. It was a red Honda CRX hatchback. And for years, whenever I saw a red Honda CRX hatchback, I FREAKING RAN. They still give me the willies.
But that wasn't the real boogeyman, not for me. Mine was the boy who stalked me in high school, who lured me with a plea for help and understanding. I would have run from the red hatchback, but my boogeyman knew just how to lure me in. I wrote him into a book, too, but you'll probably never get to read that one. Let's just say the lead female turned into a zombie and bit off his... yeah. Maybe I'll self-publish that one, one day.
My point is this: The boogeyman wears a different face for everyone. And surviving him isn't about being smart or learning rules. I was smart, and I knew the rules, and I ran from red hatchbacks, and just like a monster in a Stephen King book, my boogeyman came from a different direction with a different weapon.
But I survived him. And now, when I think of my tiny daughter out in the world, I'm terrified. I want her to be better prepared to identify and fight the boogeyman. It's not always a dude in a mask in a conversion van. It might be a friend's father or older brother. It might be the dad she babysits for when she's 14. It might be a boy at high school who just wants to talk somewhere private. And I want to empower her to understand that whichever boogeyman she faces, she doesn't have to give in, she can fight. And thanks to her dad and Gracie jiu-jitsu, she can choke him unconscious.
And the other lesson that I want her to learn is the one that finally helped me heal:
Surviving is the best revenge.
The second best revenge is writing your boogeymen into books and having him emasculated by a zombie.