I am taking a short break from writing Herbalism for the Zombie Apocalypse this summer.
When I began that column nearly two years ago, I envisioned it as the beginning of a three-part series of books on herbalism and survival or disaster preparedness incorporating both an engaging story and some sound advice on using herbs in the field and on the fly. I expected to do a series of creative memoir style fiction pieces, like journal entries, along with developing an herbal for the zombie apocalypse akin to Max Brooks’ The Zombie Survival Guide.
Half-way into my commitment, I’m surprised to find a longer story’s starting to develop. Writing it has been an adventure in itself. I had planned on a two-part column, which turned into a three-part column and ended with a cliff-hanger I hadn’t foreseen.
There are many ways to write a story. Short and long works alike can be outlined and planned, or they can be a jump in and see what arises sort of affair. Like my own life, I find trying to map out where the story’s going a fruitless endeavor. I don’t necessarily want to just jump in. I’d love to be methodical and practical in my approach to writing fiction. I truly admire those writers who can. They’ve got talent and skills I’ll never be able to claim. I don’t honestly know how they do it.
When I set to writing any story, I have a solid idea of where to begin. Each event materializes as I write. It’s like having a dialog with some unseen muse who holds all the cards and lays each one out just as I need it. Every time I’ve planned or even set broad goals for where I want my story to go, I’ve been foiled. The fire drains right out of it just as soon as I plan it, killing the entire story altogether. Believe you me, I have tried to do what all the experts say authors ought many, many times. It was a no-go. Serial murder of stories…that’s what stopped me from planning mine out a few years ago.
Zombie Hunter C’s adventures were in part a challenge to that unseen muse. If you want me to show up and take dictation, I will, but you’ve got to be there every darn month when it’s time to write the next column. After nearly two years of writing, my muse is still laying down cards just as I need them, but it seems she’s got a bigger story in mind than I’d thought.
Although a break from the deadline is a relief, I’m looking forward to the writing ahead with a wee bit of trepidation. Where will this story take me, and just how long will it be? A plan would be nice. Heck, a plan for the rest of my life would be nice, too. Since I have enough experience to know that ain’t comin’, I’ll just jump right in and see where this ride goes. At the very least, it ought to be interesting.