I’m having a bit of an internal monologue, which I’m going to share here in lieu of actual content. Sometimes I have to think about these things, whether there’s any good reason to do that or not. My thought for today is a mediation on why I’ve never written about zombies.
Yes, why? Good question, and I’d like to thank me for asking it. Not that I have a good answer; I don’t fully understand my motivations for doing or not doing anything. But if I had to guess, I’d say it’s for the same reason I have never written a story about werewolves or unicorns: they just aren’t very interesting. Ok, I know that some people who read here are very fond of zombies and/or werewolves and unicorns, so before you get the knives out, let me explain: They just aren’t very interesting. ‘Kay. Now you can get the knives out.
Is there a point buried in this pile of nonsense somewhere? No promises, but maybe I can borrow a few knives to dig it out, as we seem to have a few handy. I could dwell on why zombies aren’t interesting–there’s the lack of complex motivation (ala Romero) or the lack of any higher brain function (ala traditional). Scary? Sure. Horrifying? You betcha! Interesting? Not so much. Yet I know that these are simple rationalizations after the fact. It’s perfectly possible to write a zombie story where neither of those restrictions apply, just as it’s quite doable to write a good werewolf or unicorn story. I’ve read a few. One or two I’d rate as classics in the field, so it can be done and has/is being done. Just not by me.
Why? They just aren’t very interesting.
And here we are again. It’s not even that, as subjects, they’re pretty cliché. Subjects become cliché for a reason, and just because their ubiquity level has been raised to cliché it does not mean that new and interesting work can’t be done. As penance for my lack of appreciation, I will now inventory fantasy clichés in my own work:
- Fairies/fey? Check.
- Vampires? Only twice, but check.
- Dragons? Multiple offenses.
- Witches/Wizards? Ditto.
- Sphinxes? Yep.
- Ancient Gods/Goddesses? Darn right.
- Demons? Uh-huh. Just ask Yamada.
- Monsters? Duh.
- Ghosts? All the time, and Eli Mothersbaugh’s specialty.
- Deal With the Devil? And proud of it!
- Mermaids? Of course.
- Personifications, as in Death or Fate? Guilty.
Let’s face facts here—anyone who’d willingly write a “Deal with the Devil” story is capable of anything. So why no zombie, unicorn, or werewolf stories? They just aren’t – [Visual of the blogger being whapped on the nose with a rolled-up newspaper. Heaven knows where they found one] Besides being painful, that interruption reveals the true answer. Why no zombie, werewolf, or unicorn stories? Because there aren’t any, as in “aren’t any rattling around in my brain.” No matter how many times I turn the notion in my head, it just comes back to this. I’ve already talked about recognizing a story when you see one, and this is the real reason I’ve never done unicorn stories or zombie stories or werewolf stories–I just don’t recognize anything relating to them as a story. It’s really as simple and ungrammatical as that. The fact that I don’t find them interesting is effect, not cause. I haven’t had a zombie or unicorn or werewolf story to write. In the case of the unicorn, I can’t see the point. Until and unless I come up with something that is at least as interesting to me on a story level as Peter Beagle’s The Last Unicorn or Theodore Sturgeon’s “The Silken Swift,” the subject is a closed door. If I ever do get such a notion, the door will spring open and I’ll find that particular subject is as interesting as anything I’ve ever written about and I’ll eat whatever steaming plate of crow is required. Will it happen? Dunno. I’d say it’s even odds. But until then, “They just aren’t–”
[Whoosh] Ha! Missed me!