ZOMBIE TIME


Confession: I don’t know what I was thinking.

There I was feeling guilty for slowing down my input at my local blog forum, when my platform folded up its spidery legs and…died.

(Surprise!)

It was like hanging on the edge of a cliff and suddenly discovering you’re holding two ends of the same, life-saving rope.

It’s either good news or bad news.

I’ll let you know what I decide. Right now I’m still thinking about it.

About The Old Horror

(Um… that is not me…although I am an older Horror writer.)

It all started when I began a blog in 2012 called The Horror at now-defunct Open Salon. I did it to ease myself out of the academic environment of the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs where I was completing a thirty-year quest for my BA. I wanted to keep myself writing and producing to deadlines. I wanted to do research not always appropriate for research papers, but always nagging me as a writer of Horror fiction.

I had questions and I had qualms, pet peeves and aggravations. There were things I wanted to know that no one seemed to be interested in talking about.

I was the one wanting thicker, denser, meatier articles on how-to and how-come. I wanted the whys and wherefores… So since I wasn’t going to rest until I GOT those answers, I figured maybe other folks might be interested in sharing in what I discovered.

As the blog unfolded, I became certain of one thing: a lot of us have the SAME questions that no one is answering. So the Horror germinated on Open Salon… a convoluted, verbose trip through the gathered mists of the Horror genre, an under-published writer seeking explanations for things no one seemed interested in explaining or clarifying.

Ooooo… people said…..nobody reads dense text anymore….

Ooooo… print is dead.

30,000 hits and three editor’s picks later…

About the New (Revised) Horror, or Going Zombie

I began to realize that I wasn’t alone in my curiosity about and love for the Horror genre. I also discovered some things about myself as I wrote the blog – namely that I am a fan of Literary Criticism, indeed a feminist-after-all-these-years, a big fan of the ghost story in genre Horror as well as Literature, and a defiant Defender of books in actual PRINT.

So when OS expired, I thought to myself… perhaps I am not done rambling and researching about. Perhaps I like talking about Horror and exploring the intricacies of its publication and review. So after a pause to refresh, I slowly decided to resume the blog “somewhere” new.

Next came my search for a platform with decent SEO capacity and a friendly Help department, which is how I wound up choosing WordPress. And of course I would need a different name for the blog – partly because The Horror appeared taken (in many, many ways) and because I felt I have changed a lot since the original Horror began. (I have graduated, and gotten a few things published since, and returned to the luxurious life of retail work schedules and binge writing. Plus, I am even older, if either you or I can imagine it.)

So the Name Hunt began.

It occurred to me that The Horror was being resurrected from its sudden death, and like a zombie it was probably going to lurch about for a while until I found its “new” voice. So I Googled “zombie” and there it was… Zombie Salmon.

It isn’t every day that one is confronted with the concept of Zombie fish. But there it was… an article about scientists in September of 2012 studying the brain and its mysterious (albeit supposedly limited) activity after death, within which it was confessed that awkwardly suspicious results had “detected” actual brain activity in actual dead salmon.

And aside from developing a new trepidation about eating seafood, I knew in an instant, the name was perfect for my new blog.

 (“Bennett doesn’t claim to have discovered a zombie salmon, in fact, he thinks this is probably just a false positive, or as his team put it their paper:

Either we have stumbled onto a rather amazing discovery in terms of post-mortem ichtyological cognition, or there is something a bit off with regard to our uncorrected statistical approach… In layman’s terms: we didn’t do a good enough job accounting for the things that went wrong or salmon can come back from the dead to stalk the living.”) http://www.outdoorhub.com/news/2012/09/23/zombie-salmon-researchers-honored-for-showing-meaningful-brain-activity-in-dead-fish/ 

Trust me.. I have a somewhat disturbing cartoon of this running in my head. (Somewhere on a river in salmon country…dead salmon continue to climb fish ladders moving ever inland…their motives unknown…)

And to make matters worse, I see the parallel between being an under-published, time-constrained, working Horror writer and undead fish with X’s for eyes and a primal code requiring them to keep heading upstream…even after death. Writing is an obsession that once begun drags the writer away from sleep and most forms of human contact. It becomes a subliminally ingrained habit. We emerge from our dens to savage food we can bring down with our own bare hands and to stumble off to work… where eight hours on Old-People feet leads to even more stumbling, lurching and, yes – moaning. Becoming a zombie is part of the program. Sad to say, we writers may still lurch about to check our email and mailboxes long after we have expired. Like bad fish. Or Atlantic salmon, as the case may be.

Hence, Zombie Salmon.

To sum up, I am an older writer, returning late to the game, having finally completed my higher education in December of 2012 at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. With a shiny new BA in English with an emphasis in Professional and Technical Writing, I rediscovered my passion for fiction and find myself unhappy with the world technology has wrought upon my art. Ironically.  I am therefore rediscovering that mysterious (seriously underappreciated and underpaid) country of creativity and manuscript submission in a time of reduced publishing capacity, disappearing formats, and endangered print. I have had one short short story published (“Florida at Night” in Dark Moon Digest No. 10) http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dark-moon-digest-issue-10-various-authors/1114072015?ean=9780988556911 , and a nonfiction article published in online magazine Talking Writing, December 2012, entitled “Why Horror Movies Disappoint” http://talkingwriting.com/why-horror-movies-disappoint-readers/ .

But I am also a working writer – that is, a writer who works while writing. This means I know what it is to struggle to manage my time and my Muse while battling bills and Life’s ugly intrusions. I also know what it is to try to finesse reading fees, and find publications to submit writing to, to wrestle with the meanings of editorial comments, and to occasionally “step in it” with the bigger names of the genre (my most successful post being one which contained a faux pas and subsequent mea culpa to one of Horror’s greatest editors http://www.open.salon.com/blog/thehorror/2012/05/25/defining_the_best_in_horror_3_editors_3_publications , and which at last count had garnered over 30,055 views before going dark.)

Therefore, I am no stranger to the artistic struggle and public shaming that comes with the territory of being a writer in our upstream, highly competitive, highly public technology-ridden world. Like many of you, I fling my creative self at the rocks and ladders, hoping to someday make it over the little dam we call success, realizing that it is more probable that one such as myself in this day and age, might well wind up a bloated carcass at the feet of Cthulhu instead.

This is all right, as at my age one has to be grateful for the opportunity to write, to submit, and to revise. One must make a certain peace with the reality that even if one has talent, talent does not equate to automatic success in the arts. But rather, it results in a kind of twisted wisdom and private moments of pride and happiness. One realizes that success is in the eye of the beholder, and sometimes that means just getting up every day and writing in spite of all those people who said you couldn’t, shouldn’t, and wouldn’t amount to anything special.

A pox on both their houses.

A real writer writes even when no one is watching… or reading. Personal happiness is ….personal.

And so I write this blog. It isn’t – in truth – likely to be much different than the old blog… I still ramble.

But Horror makes me happy. And as a writer who constantly turns the Rubik’s Cube of established Horror writing in search of the many elements that makes our genre great, I like to share what I find… Because Horror is Literary as well as pulp. It is psychology and brain science, entertainment and pedagogy. It makes being an English major fun, and the classics very interesting. It reflects the trajectory of women and minorities in writing http://www.open.salon.com/blog/thehorror/2014/02/16/women_in_horror_month_pseudonyms_author_anxiety  , it represents our cultural mistrust and dissatisfaction with our times, social and political disasters http://www.open.salon.com/blog/thehorror/2014/05/17/rise_of_the_bone_woman_word_choice_the_abramson_firing , enlightenment and the dark ages, encapsulating the raw emotions that accompany interpreting the most basic fairy tale or Hollywood blockbuster to coping with the Industrial Revolution or today’s Technology/Information Age.

Horror is for us. It is indisputably ours. It keeps us young, and defines where we feel we are in society. From wondrous Golden Age writing machines like Stephen King, to young adult writers breaking into the genre via YouTube like Paige McKenzie http://www.open.salon.com/blog/thehorror/2015/03/09/in_the_tradition_of_mary_the_sunshine_girl_franchise , Horror is on the move. It is growing and changing and threatening to reclaim its place among the mainstream of pop literature. It is also carving its own niche in Literary Criticism, with established critical authorities like China Mieville and S. T. Joshi http://www.open.salon.com/blog/thehorror/2013/09/01/critical_mass_why_stephen_king_annoys_critics_part_1      leading the way at a time when Literary Criticism is making a revised return to the discussion table.

Horror is a viable genre, a living genre.

So why talk about it? Because apparently I need to ramble.

And because it is hard to find meat and potatoes about the genre in today’s abbreviated, tech-shaped formats…in a world where technology nurtures the damaging, soul-killing rumors that print is dead and therefore writing is pointless, that “people don’t read” and “people don’t like large, dense blocks of text.”

My experience at Open Salon proved the reality to be quite different. I admit I ramble. But some 30,000 people apparently didn’t mind. So I say, maybe the “critics” of the arts and specifically of writing are….WRONG. Dead wrong.

I say people are hungry for discussion about the Horror genre. They want to know if there is a Horror canon, then where is the list (there kinda isn’t one) http://www.open.salon.com/blog/thehorror/2013/10/31/trick_or_treat_reading_the_elusive_horror_canon), they want to know how to interpret terms, to decipher the mystery of Literary Critics http://www.open.salon.com/blog/thehorror/2013/09/17/if_not_king_barker_or_rice_the_quest_for_literary_horror   and why a favorite author isn’t (yet) considered Literary http://www.open.salon.com/blog/thehorror/2012/02/24/cannon_fodder_horror_and_the_pursuit_of_literature. They want to know they are not alone in the struggle of piecing together a short story, in finding a market, in dealing with those impersonally personal rejections, in understanding how to revise, to determine why something lays flat on the page instead of grabbing the reader. They want to know success is possible, but need to know that success does not always mean financial security or movie contracts. They need the encouragement to go back to school or not http://www.open.salon.com/blog/thehorror/2012/02/27/the_horror_of_returning_to_college_at_middle_age, to pursue graduate programs like the MFA in fiction or not, to reclaim their own identity as a member of the arts community. They need information.

I found this out because I needed the same information. And despite all the bragging of writer’s magazines and organizations…that information is unforgivably hard to find.

So when I find it…I will publish it. Right here, now that Open Salon is dead and gone.

(And yes, I know the links don’t work. Anymore. Open Salon is not a zombie. You are stuck with me.)

About My Posting Tendencies

When I started blogging, I had a schedule which was – ironically – easier to keep during my senior year in college than it was after I graduated. But I still sometimes stagger out of bed and into my “office” to construct an essay that is nagging me in the wee hours, often with research and writing on my mind. So pardon my sporadic posting; I am sleep-deprived. But dead fish do apparently blog.

I am also a w-r-i-t-e-r. This means there are times I am writing fiction instead of blogging. This is not only necessary, it is good. Writers of fiction need to write fiction in order to get duly published. I will surface now and then to complain or comment upon all of those rocks and bear teeth, about ghosts and zombies and vampires and were-things, about the weirdness that being a writer causes one to notice—like Zombie salmon.

I may ramble. I may be silent for weeks at a time. But I will be here. Talking Horror. Swimming upstream between working retail hours and 3:00 a.m. Musefests.

I am a writer. I am old and cranky. I ramble. And I love it. Won’t you get your feet wet?

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