Sunday, March 18, 2012

Getting Gritty

Anyone who knows me well knows that I have quite an infatuation with all things zombie.


I think it started when I watched The Night of the Living Dead for the first time. I was petrified. Yes, of that old black and white movie with the bad acting. I could not get those opening scenes out of my mind!

After watching that, I didn't watch anything zombie-related for a very, very long time. Then came one of those years when the Sci-fi network was showing a month of Halloween movies. And there it was. The Night of the Living Dead. I remembered the way my heart pounded the first time I watched that film, and it being Halloween and all, I wanted that rush of fear and adrenaline again.

So I watched it. And fell in love. Now, my home DVD library includes no less than 10 of my favorite zombie films. I own several books based on a zombie apocalypse. And I am completely addicted to the series The Walking Dead.

Heck, I'm even writing my own zombie novel!!

And it's that last that I want to talk about. I started writing that book years ago. It started with just a blurb that I forgot about and resurrected after a while. Then, I began working on it for real during National Novel Writing Month a couple of years ago. Since then, I tinker on it from time to time. I am about 100 pages in and I have the rest of the story mapped out--depending, of course, on the decisions the characters make along the way.

But I've been feeling stalled on it. I write. I close the program. I feel like something is missing and I don't write again for a long time.

Stephen King wrote a book called On Writing. My sister gave a copy to me several years ago as a Christmas gift (one of the best I have ever received). Now, I have never been a big King fan. I love The Stand but I want nothing to do with Pet Sematary. Anyway, I love his book on writing fiction. And of the many sections that have resonated with me, there is one that I want to talk about now.


King says that it is important to be honest in your writing. That if you hold back and don't let the characters and story ring true, people are not going to read or enjoy what you have written.

And I thought about that. And realized he is right. Part of the reason that I have disdained his writing is because it is very the point of making me uncomfortable.


Hubby and I caught up on an episode of The Walking Dead yesterday, and it was at the end of the episode that the epiphany finally hit.

The episode ended horribly. Not horribly in a "This show is stupid" way but in a "I am so disturbed right now" way. I thought about that, about the way my guts were filled with a creeping unease. Then, I thought about Stephen King's words. And then I realized what I have been ignoring for a while.

As I have worked on my zombie book, I have included some fairly disturbing parts. It is a zombie novel after all.

But I realized that I have been dishonest. In the back of my mind has been the fact that family members might buy and read this novel simply because I have written it. And I have filtered certain things that my characters might say out of respect for those family members who might be shocked that I know such words...and would put them in a book! I have been mindful that I am a teacher, and there are teachers (not in my district) who have lost their jobs because of the books they have written (usually steamy bodice-rippers but nonetheless).

I can't let those thoughts block me anymore. I've hit an impasse with my book because I have not been honest. The world that I am writing about is not a world that is concerned with niceties. It is a world that is about survival and death. It is a raw, gritty, dangerous world, and "Aw shucks" is out of place when weilding a fireplace poker and using it to bash in the brains of your ravenous neighbor.

I'm going back to the beginning. I am going to write the story the way it should have been written in the first place: with no regard to to anyone except the characters and their story. And I am going to see if that brings me to a place of peace and pride with my writing.

I may have to publish under a pseudonym, and I may have to tell some people in my life not to read the book because I use lots of dirty words and I describe some truly horrible things.

But I think that's what I have to do...


  1. I wish you good luck on your novel! I love the image. I have On Writing as well and the man is a genius! I can't wait to buy your book and read it and maybe you'll do the NaNoWriMo again this year as now you'll have a direction and the purpose of truth to lead you through! :)

  2. Good for you! Write it how it's meant to be written.
    ps - I love Stephen King :)