Wednesday, January 29, 2014

An Undead Story

In 2012, my brother Tom and I and a couple boatloads of cousins, including my kids went up to the Boundary Waters. We went up for a 3 night trip and stopped at Piragis Outfitter to get canoes and a couple of packs. It turned out the outfitters has a bookstore hooked onto their business. While Tom and I negotiated the canoe rentals, our kids wandered through the bookstore.

Ben found a book The Zombie Survival Guide on one of the racks and asked if he could buy it. I said sure, knowing that the whole "Zombie  thing" was big among kids his age - and society in general, for that matter. I figured it would be a good campfire filler or might make for some decent entertainment in case the kids got bored at some point. Furthermore, I have a hard time denying any kid a book. Reading is so important in my life that we want to encourage any reading we can.

It turns out my suspicions were correct. Ben spent much of the first night reading factoids around the fire about how to survive the Zombie Apocalypse. Things like being quiet, as they are attracted to noise, and how many rounds of ammunition you should have on hand. You know, important facts like that. Things you shouldn't leave the house without knowing about.

I mentioned to my nephew Nick that I was beginning to try my hand at fiction writing. I've always been a nonfiction/poetry guy, so was telling him how I was struggling to think of ideas on what to write. When I mentioned that Zombies were all the rage in fiction, he mentioned maybe a story about a Zombie Bigfoot. (Or I mentioned it and he agreed with it, I forget which.)

And so with that seed planted, I started thinking about the plot line, setting, etc. I knew it had to be set in the BWCA, because it is so remote and would make a great setting.

Eventually I got the story roughed out. I read it to my writing workshop folks and they shot the ending down. So I rewrote a couple of endings and picked what I thought was the best. I submitted it to a few places and got the usual rejections. Then, yesterday, I got it accepted by the Free Zombie Fiction Blog. It's funny because I had kind of given up on the story. I've been focusing a lot of attention on the details of promotion and release of Dirty Shirt, so I almost forget that these other things are out there.

In any case, it was my first piece of fiction that I've been able to get published. This is exciting for me, as now I've successfully published in three different writing niches. Good stuff.

Now, I've written a fiction story that I think is much better than the zombie one that has yet to gain a sniff. That, I've determined, is the nature of the business, unfortunately. You have to hit the right editor on the right day and hope they're in a good mood. If you know of any magazines that would be a good fit for a GIS (Geographic Information Systems) murder mystery, you know who to call.

I've also got a couple of flash fiction pieces that I'm trying to market as well. Flash is loosely interpreted, but ranges from anything between 100 (microfiction) to 1000 words in length. It's harder than it sounds to develop a story in that short space. Or, perhaps more accurately, it's hard to END a story in that short of space. You can get the beginning and middle done, but wrapping it up - and making it a good ending to boot - is the hard part.

By far the majority of the people I write with when I'm at AllWriters' are fiction writers. They write about a ton of wild, far-out, fascinating, dreamy, creepy, spacey things. I admire their talents, in many ways more than my own. I won't say that recalling events and writing about them doesn't require imagination and creativity, but I will say, it requires a different kind. When I hear some of the things they write about I think to myself, I can't even THINK in that dimension. It is a gift, one that I can trigger if I force myself, but to these people it seems to come naturally. That's what makes reading them so cool. They respect what I do, and I respect what they do.

The thing to remember is the world needs us both. It needs a description of the bonding and adventure of four brothers going camping in the BWCA as much as it needs a zombie Sasquatch coming and raiding their camp.

This is what makes the writing process beautiful.


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