Friday, 26 September 2014

You’ve Got Writer’s Block and Your Sister Just Survived a Zombie Attack

Signs of a problem: sister looks tired and clawed.

The symptoms: concern; excitement.

For the last month, you’ve been unable to write. You’ve been bashing your head against your keyboard and efhguyefbhejferhrfb feiohefnd uisdffhysdf was better than anything your mind came up with, yet still not quite right. You’ve tried all the tricks in the book: having a break, having another break, exercise, clarity tea, listening to music. Nothing worked.

Then your sister comes running in, clothing in tatters. “Zo-om-bieeeeeeeeeee!” she cries.

“Where? Where?”

“It’s okay. I cut its head off with my pendant, the one with special significance because that friend who fell into a volcano left it to me,” she explains.

As your sister retells the details of her zombie clash, you find yourself grinning. This is perfect material for a book. It’s got a beginning (sister goes out for a packet of frozen peas), a middle (zombie pops out of the shop’s freezer) and a happy ending (sister comes home safe and sound, with all the ingredients for a delicious pea soup). You can’t wait to start writing.

Wait!

This is your sister’s story, not yours. What if she wants to use it? What if you writing the novel keeps traumatic memories at the forefront of her mind? She may be happily raising a pan to the boil right now, but what about in six months’ time, when the flashbacks have really taken hold? She could be just starting to move on from the heinous attack when Bam! she sees your book cover and it all comes flooding back.

What about your sister’s reputation? Suppose she was going for a job and the interviewer, a die-hard member of the zombie protection league, recognises her from your book. You don’t want to let one zombie murder ruin an otherwise fruitful career.

Do not base fiction on your own family unless you are certain it’s what they want. You wouldn’t like it if your mum published a story called, ‘The Time My Daughter Fell Off the Toilet.’

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