Hail To The Chief : An Open Letter To The Heart Of HorrorFuel- Kelli McNeely

An open letter is usually written by one person to another for the purpose of criticizing them in a public forum. But I say fuck that. Instead I am using it as a way to express my gratitude. And while it’s meant for her, I’ll probably also talk directly to you other readers as I give my spiel.  Let me preface this letter with a little history.

It was July 21st of 2016. I remember this because it’s my father’s birthday and he had passed away two years prior. I was writing for another publication, which will remain nameless, and I was struggling with my motivation for writing. It wasn’t that I didn’t have any ideas, it’s just that I was feeling in a rut. I mean there were only so many identical entertainment stories I could write before just wanting to say “FUCK IT!”

What do I mean by “identical entertainment stories”? Imagine that one day you write a story that says Asa Butterfield has been cast as Spiderman for the new film series. Then you find out there is somebody else being sought, then somebody else, and so on and so forth. As we all know now, Tom Holland got the role…not Fright Night director Tom Holland, NO. But as you can probably imagine it becomes pretty mundane writing the same story about the same role only with a different young actor or actress every other day. Granted many of the stories I wrote did involve subject matter I was very interested in, but there was a great deal of repetition and that got BORING.

Of course I was originally brought on to that staff to do movie lead ins/previews and subsequent reviews of said movies. And as long as I could afford the ticket price and I actually wanted to see the movie, I was completely OK with the arrangement. But there came a time when paying to see one or two movies on a weekly basis was not allowable by my budget. It was something I had hinted at and also discussed with another of the chief members of the staff, but it went no further than him…or at least it was never touched on again that I know of.  So I continued writing what I could and scraping change to see the occasional movie, all the while the editor let all staff writers know that there were dozens of other writers on staff who can pick up our slack. I felt like I was writing for the online magazine version of a sweatshop, and became rather disillusioned with the idea of writing. This likely became evident to the “CEO”, who decided to “move on” from me as a staff writer (an unpaid one at that), and on my deceased father’s birthday of all days.

Well, I had almost resigned myself to not giving a shit about ever writing again…that is until  days later I saw a post on Twitter. I had been following HorrorFuel because…well, I fucking love horror films. It is likely my favorite of any genre, despite the fact I am a huge cinephile and adore pretty much every genre. Now as a cinephile, it doesn’t mean I have some perverse fascination with movies or doing anything inappropriate to them or during them. Of course one would have to determine what would be considered inappropriate to do to a film or during one…but that’s a whole other conversation for a different time completely. Where was I? Oh yes, a Twitter post from HorrorFuel. This post was in the form of an inquiry for anyone interested in writing for the publication. I answered and sent a sample of my work. Kelli wrote me back and welcomed me aboard, and now I have been writing for the magazine for one year and ten days.

Kelli , you have given me freedom in my writing style, including allowing me to use expletives if I so wish. Now, the biggest percentage of my articles are clean, but every once in a while an expletive really helps get ones point across. You know what I mean…it definitely nails down the sentiment of a statement. However I understand some words are an absolute no-no. I know I’m not allowed refer to anything in the parlance used to describe a female dog unless referring TO a female dog, and never ever ever use the word that starts with C ends in T and has an UN in the middle. Is everybody picking up what I’m putting down? Yeah, I knew you would.

You have also been incredibly understanding about the recent change in my work situation and how it effects my availability to write.  Also allowing me to kind of “bird-dog” for my own material, and allowing me to start my weekly Woman (In Horror) Crush Wednesday piece, to feature those women who are the heart and soul of the genre. You make me feel like I am an important part of HorrorFuel and NOT like I am one in a stable of dozens. When I get behind or feel like I have let you down..well, it goddamn bothers me. It wracks me with guilt, because you are the very heart and soul of this publication. As the CEO, the editor in chief, the big cheese, el Jefe, numero uno honcho, you have proven to be a great boss and I am proud to work for you.

So to sum up…Kelli, I can’t begin to express my thanks for the opportunity you have given me over this last year, and I eagerly look forward to AT LEAST one more year with HorrorFuel. You are, yourself, a wonderful Woman of Horror, since this publication is your creation and every reader should be as grateful as I that you have poured your blood, sweat, tears…quite possibly your soul into it.

Sincerest gratitude,

T. Love aka that crazy jackass that writes stuff for you


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