As I announced two days ago, I’m beginning to journal again for a short period to see if it will give me some productive material to work with. The verdict: so far, so good. This is excerpted and cleaned up from my journal this morning. I had a restless sleep, filled with nightmares and tried processing it when I awoke.
Ghost stories are usually about the unfinished business of the dead. There’s also generally a psychic touchstone person who is able to create contact or a bridge. In times of powerful hauntings, multiple people may witness the haunting but it usually is provoked by one person, even in such cases.
From a literary standpoint this person is the protagonist and they usually spur the story onward. They allow the ghost to tell their story, allowing the reader to gain a better understanding of the ghost for sure, but more importantly, of the person experiencing the haunting. The ghost story is in some ways a take on the mystery genre. The reader may even be tasked with solving a crime- how did they die or how were they murdered? Is someone responsible? Can they be brought to justice so that the dead can rest? Or is there simply an unfinished task that the dead wish us to complete?
In some stories, the murder has such a profound psychic disturbance on the community that it becomes a haunting sans etherea. There’s not a proper ghost with the stereotypical strange noises and things caught out of the corner of your eye. It’s the absence of the dead person that is haunting. A couple of TV shows that immediately spring to mind for this are The Killing (the first season of the US version) and Twin Peaks, which I’ve recently been re-watching. In both of those a young woman is murdered and the loss devastates the community of which they were a part. This leads to a confusing, frightening search for answers, much like you find in ghost stories.
Finally, ghosts, whether real or imagined, represent us. They represent our desire to accomplish our goals before death spirits us off.