Summer of the Zombie Novel

My daughter has been working on a zombie novel. She is very excited about it. It’s a about a kid named TJ and begins with him day-dreaming in school about this girl, Debbie, that he kind of likes. After that the structure gets a bit fuzzy, but still it sounds cool.

Anyway, it got me to thinking that maybe it is time I started work on my own zombie novel. I’ve been kicking one around in my head for awhile now.

Here is the opening:

For the past thirty-seven hours I have been trapped in my ex-wife’s attic. And I can still  hear them down there. By them I don’t mean my ex-wife, Carolyn, or her new husband, Roger, or my daughter, Melanie.

No. I mean the zombies. That’s right — zombies, undead, walkers,  biters, ghouls, legends of the undead. Whatever the fuck you want to call them. They are down there.

It happened. The dead came back to life. I don’t how it happened or why. I just know that it did. And I don’t know where my daughter is. I need to find her and make sure that she’s safe.

What do you think? Does it grab you?

I thought this could be a project for the summer, for my daughter and I — we could work on our stories together.


The B-side of reluctance…

…is anxiety, which I seem to wake up with each morning. Whereas at the end of the day I’m reluctant to leave work in the mornings I can’t seem to wait to get going and doing for the day. What’s it going to be like when I don’t have a place to go in the morning, a schedule to keep?

Of course, I will have things to do. I’ll just be doing those things in my apartment, which will effectively be my office. It’s funny, when I was working toward being a writer I imagined that this was precisely how my life would be structure — I’d work from home, writing my fiction, my novels and short stories. I wouldn’t have an office, a place of business to go to. That was what I wanted. But now… I don’t know. I’ve gotten used to having a place to go.

I wonder if I will do any writing once I am unemployed, provided I haven’t secured a new job by then. You’d think it would be a perfect opportunity to do some writing. But I’m not so sure I’ll be able to. I haven’t done much writing in recent weeks. I’ve been too concerned with finding a new job. I cant seem to concentrate on writing fiction. In a way I’m too tired. In another way, it seems a not very productive way to spend my time. I don’t know. Maybe I’ll feel differently once I transition.


Behind my eyes…

Usually when I retreat to the employee lounge at work to eat my lunch I try to read but more often than not end up taking a nap. It’s not a deep sleep but rather more of a half-waking slumber. In the past it has been a time for me to work on writing. Behind my eyes I would envision a piece of fiction that I’d been working on and imagine myself tapping out a new bit of it on the computer screen in my head.

However, this past week that hasn’t been the case. I’ve simply been napping. I’m still in my half-waking state but my mind does not conjure up any writing to be worked on. Does this mean I’ve given up on my fiction writing? Or perhaps I’m just taking a break from it? Or perhaps I’m simply too tired these days to do it? I have to say I don’t know.

But how could I not know? You ask. Excellent query. After all isn’t writing a decision that is conscious? One would think. That’s what I’ve always thought. But I’ve tried to stop writing several times in my life. Just give it up. But I’ve always returned for one reason or another. This time was not a deliberate action. I just sort of stopped one day and did not pick it up the next. Maybe I’ve just run out of fiction writing gas.

Or maybe I’m simply switching gears because I’m starting a class at the community college in a couple of weeks. Maybe I can no longer divide my time between a class and writing along with everything else that I need to do. I need to focus on one or the other, and that’s what I’ve been doing. Class hasn’t even started yet and I’m already 2 chapters deep into both of the texts that go along with the class.

I feel a sense of urgency about school these days that I did not when I was in my late teens and twenties, not long out of high school. Then there was a certain excitement about being in college. Now, there’s more a certain weight to it. It feels more like work. It’s more of a necessity than a choice.

Perhaps that was a mistake, not seeing college as a necessity back when I first went. Maybe had I viewed it that way I would have majored in something more practical, like business or computers or engineering. Who knows?

All I do know is that beginning on January 15th, every Saturday for the next sixteen weeks I have four hours of computer class. There go my Friday nights, and perhaps along with it my fiction writing, once and for all.

Aren’t I the gloomy Gus.

Too much [clap clap] time on my hands

The irony of my situation is that when I was married I was always scrounging for time to read and write, and now that I’m single and living on my  own I have plenty of extra time but can’t seem to fill it all up, although I am writing again and doing more reading than I have in a decade. A lot of short stories, especially.

When I was in grad school I could spend whole weekends in front of the computer, tapping out fiction. I’m talking literally 8-10 hours at a stretch. I might not have been writing every second of the stretch, but I was concentrated on my writing, thinking about it. Of course, that was when I lived alone. Once I got roommates it was different story. I figured other writers would understand the need for work and solitude but that was not always the case. Certain roommates I had were huge time sucks. Huge!

I guess that I’m just readjusting to living on my own again. I used to like it in a lot of ways. Sure, it could be lonely, but it allowed me to set my own pace, and I didn’t have to schedule around other people’s agendas. I can remember going whole weekends without speaking a word out loud. Now I talk to myself, like my mother. Whenever my daughter catches me talking to myself, she points out that I get that from Nana. She’s right.

To to some degree it’s probably a matter of stamina an energy. I had tons of enthusiasm for my writing when I was a 20-something grad student. But now, I’m a 40-something divorced, single-dad, and I’m just fucking tired. My enthusiasm has waned shall we say. But what are you going to do, right….

the urge to purge

I got it!

But I’m not talking self-induced puking. Ew! Gross!

I emailed a friend recently that I had the strong urge to just chuck out all my writing that I have stored on my computer and all the books on my bookshelf. This is not an uncommon impulse for me. I get it ever few years or so.

My friend interpreted my comments as a desire to simplify my life, but it seemed more than that. I really wanted to wipe the slate clean. To what purpose I can hardly say.

Perhaps it has something to do with my non-existent professional writing career. As an amateur, i.e. non-paid writer, I’m doing quite well. But as someone who banks Benjamins via writing not so much. In fact, not at all. I rarely, if ever, use my writing skills in my current job, which is a big part of the reason I’m looking for new working digs. Besides, 6 years seems long enough — time to fly away little birdy. Fly fly fly! Fly fly fly!

Problem: Michigan employment atmosphere sucks! They say it is getting better, and with an undergrad and grad degree I’m in a better position than most, but still… It doesn’t seem all the great.

Maybe my urge to purge has something to do with feeling as I’m stagnating, you know. At least chucking all my stuff would be something. Right now feels as if there is little if any movement in my life.

Or maybe it is claustrophobia. I moved from a 1,100 sq. ft. house to living in a single bedroom, and with all those books on top of the usual furniture and junk, it’s feels even smaller. And it’s transitory, you know, not really my place/space. I’m just holding up there while I save some cash and figure out my next move.

In the past, I wouldn’t have had a problem just chilling for a time, but now, I don’t know. Life seems more immediate, and suddenly shorter, and maybe that’s because technically it is.  But also time seems to be moving faster. Must be a thing that happens after you turn 40.

In the end, I know I’m not going to chuck anything out. I couldn’t even if I tried. Just need to channel this energy in a productive direction, you know. Like copy editing a piece of fiction that I just finished a draft of.

Something anyway.

No music….


One of the real bummers of my current circumstances, i.e. getting divorced, is that I can no longer enjoy music. In fact, I can barely stand it.

I’ve always lived with the notion that music can be a comfort and cathartic, especially when you’re down, but for me right now it is just painful. It is the emotional equivalent of chewing on tinfoil.

Of course, I’ve never been a music connoisseur, but I’ve always  liked music, like anyone else. So to suddenly have it be a source of discomfort rather than pleasure is disheartening to say the least.

This is especially a problem for me at work, because I have a job where I sit at my computer all day and listening to music is one of the ways that helps you pass the time. But as stated above I can’t do that. Instead, I listen to TV shows online. I’m not so sure that listening to TV shows provides comfort as much as it is simply a distraction, which isn’t bad except there isn’t real joy in it, you know.

I do get some semblance of joy from reading still, thank God! Don’ t  know what I would do if I couldn’t read. I read all the time, somteimes several books simultaneously. But I can’t read while I’m working.

Writing helps but in a different way. It isn’t so much about joy or distraction as it is about making order of chaos. It is helpful to write, to shape the ides, to reconsider and rewrite.

Why am I not doing this for a live, you might ask?

Good fucking question. Why not indeed?

How Publishing Really Works

Is my new Featured Blog. Woo hoo!

A random check on twitter brought me a tweet about self-publishing and all the BS therein. And t his article had a link to a blog entitled How Publishing Really Works, which was created by a woman who had a friend that got suckered by a vanity publisher and never tried to write anything again. Yikes! Of course, that’s a bummer, but if you’re that fragile I’d guess the expected rejections that would come with try to get your book published by a regular publisher would likely kick your ass too. Stil, I agree with the general premise of the article which is that vanity publishing (not to be confused with independant publishing, although vanity publishers seek to do precisely that) is bullshit on a stick.

Of course, like a lot of unpublished writers, I’ve flirted with the idea of self-publishing but something about it always puts me off. So I was glad to come across the this article and the blog linked within as a kind of reminder not to fall into that trap. Because vanity publishing is about ego and not about writing. I want my stuff to be about writing, even if no one really reads it.

I’d rather do as J.D. Salanger is reportedly rumored to do with his writing — he seals completed works in a box, read only by  himself, and that’s that — than to taint my whole writing life with the stigma of vanity publishing.

Although, I would consider pubing online to a different, and thus far an acceptable acquiescence (am I using the word right?). We shall see, though.

Anyway, I’m more than pleased to feature a blog that is dedicated to taking these jerks to task, and that gives solid info about what publishing is really like.