Back in Action

love letter

Beginnings always seem to be the hardest, and here I am, ready to begin again. I’ve taken far too much time off from the things that I care about, including writing. Depression will do that to you. And it was refreshing to find out last week that my goddess, my spirit animal – Jenny Lawson, is devoting her new book to discussing her struggles with depression and anxiety. This woman can make even the most painful ordeals something hilarious. Quite often, I find myself binge-reading her blog just to cheer myself up, and I’m counting down the days until I can hold Furiously Happy: A Funny Book about Horrible Things in my hands and devour it joyously.

“I think everyone can relate to the fact that a ton of bullshit happens every single day and the only way we can battle that bullshit is choose to be furiously happy whenever we have the opportunity.”

So lately, I’ve been choosing to be furiously happy instead. I’m pushing myself back into art, writing, and time with the people that I care about, and I’ve discovered just how much I missed myself.

There are a couple of new writing projects on the horizon:

1) A new W3 anthology – Wicked Wordsmiths are all currently hard at work writing new short stories that are themed around libraries for this anthology. I’ve got one story down, heavily in need of some painful editing and at least one more brewing in my brain currently.

2) “Captive” – It’s a working title. I wrote a piece of flash fiction recently that really started to eat away at my thoughts. It begged for something more to be written. So, in my free time, I’ve been adding bits and pieces and watching a story develop. It will likely end up a much longer piece, ideally novel length. Without giving too much away, the story revolves around a kidnapping victim and the nightmares she encounters as her captor creates a sinister choice for her. The theme of captivity seems to be popping up a lot in the pieces I’ve been writing recently, so I’m just going to roll with it and see where this goes.

As the weather gets warmer, I become more active, and thankfully, that is making my brain be more active as well. Just have to keep the motivation and keep choosing to be furiously happy. I can do this, and so can you.

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The Zombie Dilemma

Recently, a rather fierce plot bunny attacked me and sank its tiny little teeth in, refusing to let go until written. I haven’t been able to shake this idea for a story, and I have decided that it’s the perfect project for the upcoming NaNoWriMo season. Scenes are starting to form in my head and take shape in my outline, but I fear I’ve hit a snag. For, you see, I’m working with something entirely new to me… ZOMBIES.

My dilemma is this – In most anything I’ve read that involves these moaning and groaning monsters, it’s entirely too taboo to use the “Z” word. Call them “the infected”, “walkers”, “the living dead”, “undead”, etc….but never just zombies? I’m torn on how I feel about that.

The reason I’ve never written anything with zombies before is, well, because I thought they were pretty much the lamest monsters of all things that go bump in the night. Vampires? Yes, I’ll write those all day everyday. Werewolves? Sure, why not? But zombies? I didn’t see the appeal. There wasn’t anything scary about a monster that lurches towards you at the rate of a handicapped sloth. No, thank you very much. So, what changed? Someone turned me on to The Walking Dead recently. By recently, I mean, season five is starting next month, and I’ve marathoned all episodes up until where I’m at in season four. If I didn’t have to work and could sit at home with a box of Capri Suns and only my television for company, you can bet your bottom that I’d have not only finished all the episodes, but I would probably already be rewatching them all again. I thought I would hate it, honestly I did, but the biggest shock to me was that I just couldn’t stop watching. The storylines are compelling, I’m attached to the characters, and I’ll be honest…on more than one occasion, I’ve driven home in the pitch dark on the lookout for walkers.

Now I’m here with the beginnings of a young adult novel that has me more excited than any recent project I’ve worked on, and I’m stuck up against a fence full o’ zombies. What do I call them? Do I try to create some new alias for the creatures, use something familiar to readers, or do I just go ahead and drop the big “Z” bomb?

I asked a fellow writer for his opinion and received a somewhat unexpected answer. He said, “Call them what they are. Zombies. People get so caught up in creating other words for what something monstrous is, like how we have so many names for the Devil, but fear of a name takes away fear of the thing itself. Have a character rebel and refuse to call them anything but what they actually are – zombies.”

Interesting…I like it. I enjoy the name it, claim it attitude, and it could be used reasonably well alongside those less willing to acknowledge what’s around them. I can even see the character who would say it. At the same time, I can feel my main character staring at me scrupulously from across the table, arms crossed, saying, “Zombies? Really?! That’s what we’re going to go with?” And that’s when I bang my head into the keyboard repeatedly, waiting for some better idea to spill from my brain.

So what do you think? Would seeing the “Z” word in the back blurb of a book turn you off from reading it? What’s your favorite name for zombies? I’m looking for any help I can get, because right now my outlining is progressing at a dragging zombie-walk pace until I figure this out.