There was a zombie staring at me when I woke up this morning.
It was a fleeting glimpse, a remnant of my dreamscape that lingered on the cusp of consciousness and dismissed in an instant. It was enough to see he was an ugly fella – bloodshot eyes, shredded lips coated in blood and spittle, and grey skin marred with dark veins.
It’s worth noting that he wasn’t the same zombie I saw before closing my eyes last night. That one looked fresh with pinker skin, fewer wounds and eyes that appeared somewhat alert, though slower in his physical movements as if tired and ready for sleep.
Wiping the adventures of the night from my eyes I staggered into the bathroom, passing two more members of the undead club. The first lurched and bumped into the wall, the second seemed to wake up to my presence then grunted as if cursing the slow reaction of the first.
The next one glared at me from the mirror as if in shock. He was awake but not yet alert to the day ahead.
Thankfully there were no zombies in the shower. Just me, suds and hot water rinsing away the filth of another night spent wandering the realms of a zombie infested Imaginationland.
My last confession…
I have woefully neglected my blog for almost two months, though oddly I haven’t missed it all that much. I’ve been embedded in the world of The Holt, the next book in my Bloodwalker Legacy series. It has demanded a lot of my spare time, like a siren singing to me when I’m not hunched over the keyboard. Every so often I’ve considered posting something new, only to be lured back to the story, leaving my blog lost and alone.
I would cry your pardon, dear blog reader, for my absence, and I’m sure you’ll understand that although a balance is needed in life, sometimes it shifts far in one direction often at the detriment of something else. My inner writer keeps me focussed on the next line or the next scene, thrusting any desire to post on my blog to the bottom of the to-do list.
I find the shift of perspective from fiction to blog writing strange. These words are intended for you, whereas those of The Holt are for me alone, at least for the moment. As I watch the words appear on the screen right now I find them liberating, sort of cleansing.
When writing from a characters point of view, there’s a certain clarity and attention required in order to best convey a scene, character emotion, plot mechanics and so on. Yet here I can waffle on about the patina that has developed on the side of the kettle in the kitchen, which despite much scrubbing and cleaning never quite vanishes. And how the kink in the tail of our dog, Tilly, makes it look broken and wrong, the tail, not the dog…but maybe both actually.
Being immersed in writing the story isn’t only about being sat at the computer. Thoughts are a nuisance at times. I’ll be at work, running reports or working on rotas when my inner writer nudges the inside of my skull with an interesting twist to a scene I’ve been working on. Sometimes his voice is lost amongst the flow of work life, yet now and then I’ll stop and let those thoughts run their course until there’s enough substance there worth noting for later, when work is done and I’m driving home.
The drive to and from work can be weird at times. I’ll be halfway there and realise I’ve not taken much notice of my surroundings, and I’ll hope I’ve been aware of other cars, traffic lights, people crossing etc. Autopilot isn’t a good thing.
Sadly it’s work that has tipped the scales away from life, which isn’t a bad thing in the short-term. I’m acutely aware of the minutes ticking by in others areas of my life. Never enough time to do everything I want, or need. It’s not like when I was younger where time seemed to stretch beyond the horizon and could therefore be abused by indulging in every form of procrastination available.
As my work hours have increased there’s been less time for writing, which means I have to grab those precious moments whenever I can and dive in deep for as long as possible. This sucks because I get a few hours each night to write, and though I have a couple of free days in the week, I always end up doing something else – shopping, cleaning, cooking, chatting, and yes, procrastinating…sigh.
As I’m holiday this week I intended to get this post written by lunchtime then spend the rest of the week writing until my eyes bleed. It’s now 3.13pm and I’ve watched a few YouTube videos, checked emails, played with the dogs and enjoyed a tasty ham and cheese sandwich.
Despite the lack of free time these days, I am happy to say that Part 1 of The Holt is almost at completion. There are four parts to this tale and at a guess it will span around 250,000 to 300,000 words, which is something of a beast, and likely be wrestled into a smaller shape in later edits.
I had hoped to have a first draft finished by May this year, but that doesn’t look likely now. I realise I was being optimistic in my deadline, but I still plan on releasing The Holt in autumn 2015. That’s doable, I think. We’ll see. So far the writing has been insanely good fun and I do indeed love every minute crafting the next Bloodwalker Legacy novel.
So, picking up from the opening “zombie in my face” moment when I woke up this morning. Right now these things are everywhere. Not literally you understand, that would more than a bit alarming, and would also mean I’d be struggling to survive an apocalyptic wasteland rather than writing this.
I see a zombie as two things – first, an undead beast driven to scoff living things, and second as a metaphor.
The zombie stood there watching me wake up was in fact me, or a projection of how I perceived myself coming out of a deep sleep of which I can only remember slithers of detail. I recall a dark early morning scene where I’m in a forest clearing. I’m alone, cut off from friends. There are zombies coming out of the trees and I’m armed with little more than an axe and my wits.
Morning zombie reflects my transition from slumber to awake.
Night time zombie on the other hand is tired, groggy, clinging to the need to cram as much into the day as possible whilst fighting fatigue. The two on the way to the bathroom are akin to my brain waking up. And I doubt many people enjoy their reflection in the morning mirror.
Zombies can represent that sense of urgency, that itchy feeling at the back of your head that something needs to be done. Like when you leave the house and you’re certain something has been left behind, only to remember your mobile phone is still on the kitchen table. I like to think I’m not that attached to technology, but I hate not feeling the weight and shape of my phone in my pocket.
We all have zombies in our lives. They are the to-do list, the fears we keep hidden, the chores we never get done, the wants, needs and desires of every day and long-term goals. They chase us and just when we think we’re free they gather around again, urging us to slay them. Unlike films and books they never quite manage to sink their teeth in. Well, not usually.
You think that’s bad, right?
Zombies are important. They’re not just for thrills and frights, as a metaphor they remind us that we’re alive, that we can keep on going and we are able to slay them and not give in. Today I’m aware of three zombies closing in on me.
The Blog Zombie has been chasing me for a while. He’s slow and hasn’t made much noise until the last few days where I’ve begun to notice him in the shadows. With this post I can slay him and move on, at least until the next Blog Zombie takes his place.
Writing Zombie is always there. He’s pals with my inner writer. At times I wonder if my inner writer is a zombie. He rarely leaves me alone and makes a lot of noise. With Chapter 22 half finished, I’ll slay him today with a smile on my face, and blood on the hands of my characters. The next writing zombie, let’s call him Chapter 23 Zombie, can come at me, teeth bared, wild eyes fixed on my flesh. He can snarl and gurgle all he wants but he too will be slain.
As for the third zombie, that’s a minor one, a crawler zombie. Her legs have been chewed up and she’s little more than a nuisance than a threat. She is Car Tax Zombie and currently lives in my phone, with a name of Cortana who reads out my reminders with a pleasant tone.
Zombies are a necessary part of life.
Love them, then slay them.
Just never ignore them.