November 8, 2011

Market (and self) research

Last week I celebrated the anniversary of my first day of novel-ing.  I was SO close to finishing the draft on which I was working, it was hard to take any time to celebrate. 

I stopped almost all other tasks to focus on the draft.  Over the course of a month I took three separate stories and merged them into one (I hope) coherent story, and came up with a total 100,431 words.  Whew.  

I finished Saturday night, staying up until close to midnight to make the final edits on the final chapters, then Sunday had my whole novel printed out at my local FedEx Office.  It's currently...tucked somewhere, I'm actually not sure where. The last time I saw it, it was still in its envelope, sitting on the stairs, but I think Charles has since hidden it from me.

Regardless, in my Grand Plan of Finishing my Novel, I plan to set it aside completely until December 7.  It's a little over a month-long break, and ending my break on the 70th anniversary of Pearl Harbor Day seems appropriate for a history-girl like me.  Hopefully after the break, I'll be able to read it with some distance and be able to tell, finally, if my overall concept works.

And until then? I'm doing Massive Market Research! Fun!

I've started reading Max Brooks's World War Z, and to be honest, after the first 50 or so pages I almost put it down.  It was a bunch of thinly-veiled social commentary, skewering almost all the governments of the world on a sharp but unoriginal stick.  That makes was published in 2006 and was therefore probably written in 2004, when we as a country still reeled from 9/11 (we're still reeling, no?), and while I am no fan of George W and the damage caused by his administration, I'm sort of tired of thinking about all the terrible mistakes he made. 

But then, luckily, Brooks took his story away from government officials lamenting the inadequacies of the response to the growing zombie threat, and he focused instead on the personal stories of escape and retribution. And now I'm enjoying it.  I prefer personal to semi-anarchist stories.

I've also been trying to keep up with Season Two of The Walking Dead series on AMC.  I started watching Season One last year about a month after I started writing my book, and it served as validation for the ideas I'd already written.  Yes, zombie blood is black and viscous.  Yes, a baseball bat is a good weapon.  Yes, I was onto something with my focus on the survivor stories.   So that was pretty great.

This season is a little slower, a little less action-packed.  It's focusing a lot more on stories around children - a little girl is lost, alone, in the woods, while a little boy has been shot in the chest and may or may not survive.  His parents debate the value of helping him survive to live in constant danger while two other people risk their own lives to find equipment to save the boy.  

It's intense; it's frequently upsetting; I'm not sure if I'll last the whole season. But I'm going to try, because every so often I get a peek at an idea I wish I'd originated (a person who hung himself after being infected by a zombie-bite, only to re-animate, stuck in the tree by his own noose).  And I'm going to ignore the fact that it makes me cry every damn week.

Which brings me to my final piece of research this week.  My own life.

Ok, no, I haven't met any zombies yet, nor do I hope to. But this week has taken a turn for the frustrating, and it's left me with one realization - I am in NO SHAPE to survive a zombie world.

Here's why.

Zoe got her flu vaccination Friday.  She's reacted...badly to it.  Fever, terrible cough, trouble breathing.  And....we've gotten very little sleep for  the past couple nights.  And...I don't deal well with a sick kid.  I panic, I worry, I am barely holding it together.  And that's for two night's worth of coughing and fever.  

How the hell would I survive if I was protecting her from zombies? Or aliens? Or vampires? I can barely make it through a stupid vaccine reaction!

So clearly, I am not set to inhabit my own fictional world.  So I need to spend some time thinking about people like me, and how they would realistically respond to the zombie plague.

Food for thought....and for edits...but not until after December 7.


Brian Crawford said...

Hi Leah - that is certainly something to celebrate! You should be proud of your accomplishment... a lot of people set out to write a book, but very few get around to finishing.

Von and I have been watching Walking Dead as well, and I admit it's much slower this season, and also a lot less believable (there are some pretty hokey scenes). This is really too bad, as it started off so well! Not unlike Heroes, I guess, which had a great first season and went downhill from there.

Sorry to hear about Zoe's reaction to the flu shot - hope she feels better soon.

All the best to you!

Leah said...

Thanks Brian! Same to you!

And yeah - just like Heroes....sigh. I loved season one of Heroes, too...

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