Category Archives: Journals and articles
How to write by awesome and award winning author Angela Slatter
Last night during Masterchef I kept an eye on my Twitter feeds for #phdchat, started by the Thesis Whisperer. Although I’m not a PhD student, it is important to not only learn about the community I want to join and the people around it, but also the issues that come up when writing a massive thesis and being a researcher and academic.
So the conversation yesterday revolved around keeping in the writing mood and getting it done. There was a lot of mention of chocolate and treats!
I started out writing fiction from when I was around twelve. I’ve got a shelf of books dedicated to writing characters, plots, action scenes, and a few around writing articles or specific genres (of course, mostly fantasy). Right now I’m not in the fiction writing sphere, but if I learned anything from fiction writers it’s this: everyone is different! You may plan every step of the way, or free-write the first draft. You might focus on quantity, you might focus on quality. The below suggestions are ideas to help you figure out what your style of writing is. An absolute blank wordprocessor may be what works for you, where I at least need a selection of fonts (I write in pretty fonts, and then strip the format when I’m done to make it appropriate font-ed). One of the things you can’t rely on is only writing when you feel like it. You HAVE to write. You don’t have a choice at uni or in a research course about ‘aww, I don’t feel like it today’. Another thing, that was also mentioned on the hashchat, accept that whatever you do will need editing. It’s very rare the creature that writes one draft and that’s it. That’s partly why publishing books takes so long, it’s revising the editing between the editor (freelance or in-house) and the author.
Here’s my notes from last night:
- The Pomodoro Technique: Setting short time goals and rewarding yourself with breaks. Join a group for Shut Up and Write
- Set word based goals – 1000 words a day, 500 words a day – even if it’s a crap 500 or 1000 words, it’s still writing!
- Use Wordle to analyse even a sample of your writing to see the words you are using too much unconciously, or use the Writer’s Diet Test
- Edit finished text in a new file
- Write the PhD question on the header of every page to keep it in mind and help stay on track
- Use mind maps or concept maps to plan
- Put research/paper in progress/additional info on DropBox so you can access it anywhere
- Utilise verb lists. Try the Academic Phrasebank.
- Plan your writing a day or even week before your writing session
- End each writing session with a bullet point list of what comes next.
- Outline sections to help focus writing
- Write like Leonard, Edit like Sheldon
- Disconnect yourself from the internet. Use paper and pen, or if you need to be online, use something like Chrome Nanny to lock yourself out of social media.
- Blog, get some writing buddies or a group together – responsibility to share with others as a motivator for writing. Set yourself deadlines.
- Attend writing workshops or go on a writing retreat.
- Don’t write linearly – put in titles and develop ideas in sections, then review and revise between sections
- Take a break! Go for a run or to the gym, or go take a shower or bath
- Good to write conference papers and articles during PhD
- Read about writing as well as content and research processes
- Writing is something you learn as you go along, you won’t know it all upfront.
Also check out:
NaNoWriMo – Rather than writing a novel during the month, write a thesis!
“The next step in evolution of this highly specially subgenre will likely literalise the metaphor, presenting narratives in which the zombies tell their own stories, acting as true protagainsts and even heroes”
~ Kyle William Bishop, American Zombie Gothic
Why can’t we love the undead? So many friends push aside the idea of a zombie lover completely (you guys can’t judge me! You read about vampire sex!)
As discussed before, zombie romance is more romance. Sex never enters the equation. It’s about a relationship of souls (personalities), a coming together of two people.
But still zombies aren’t good enough! The rotting is either done away with completely or can be avoided with medication. The eating of people or brains is the same. So where is the problem? They are undead humans, as are vampires.
With rational thought, being capable of emotions, moral agency and free will, why are the undead any less suitable as mates? They can’t procreate and have different lifespans, and perhaps different nutritional needs, but so can human lovers. (Zombies, Vampires and Philosophy Should Vampires be held Accountable for their Bloodthirsty Behaviour – John Draeger) Some undead choose to vegetarian and will not eat humans, just as some humans choice to not eat meat or meat byproducts. (Z,V & P – The Blood connection between Vampires and Vegetarians by Wayne Yuen)
So, they might have a disease, parasite, genetic mutation or be cursed by magic. Why do we accept a Trill then (a humanoid that is capable of hosting an inner snakey-alien that shares its lives)? Or a Bajoran’s nose? They are different from humans physically too. (Can you tell I just rewatched Deep Space Nine?)
Frankly, people stereotype zombies. And if you think its too far from cultural zombie lore, look at Day of the Dead. Bub could recognise death and exhibited signs of sorrow. Big Daddy in Land of the Dead looked after his zombie community. There was even a cute couple holding hands, strolling about the apocalyptic scene, who were zombies.
As far back as forever there are stories of love between humans and the unknown, gods , fairies, monsters etc. This evolution of the zombie is no lesser than those stories. At a time, werewolves might never have appealed or vampires not been sexy (but Alexander Skarsgard is always sexy!), it is time and literary evolution and imagination that allow us to perceive injustice to these creatures.
Don’t prejudice your daughter’s next boyfriend just because he’s a zombie. He’ll treat her right!
It’s been mentioned in a few articles I’ve read lately, but zombies are special in that they weren’t established in literature before heading to the silver screen. They aren’t European or Gothic monsters. Although undead have been around forever in various myths and stories, academics (e.g Kyle William Bishop) agree that zombies really came into Western thought through Haiti. There are European and Gothic undead, or works which seem to be related to the modern zombie (e.g Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, Edgar Allen Poe’s Fall of the House of Usher or Masque of the Red Death – a personal fave), and you can see reflections of the vampire in modern zombie myth as well (particularly with the influence of I am Legend by Richard Matheson on Romero. Some mistake I am Legend for a zombie story).
The earliest texts that mention zombies are actually non-fiction, such as William Seabrook’s The Magic Island. Zora Neale Hurston wrote Tell my horse about her experiences through Haiti and Jamaica and voodoo, including a zombie incident in Haiti. Black Baghdad and Cannibal Cousins by John H Craige tell of Voodoo rituals and cannibalism.
As discussed in the first podcast of Zombies – The Living Dead in Literature (by the University of Alabama), zombies came around the time of the beginnings of cinema, and while there were plays and dramas of these zombies, the cinematic zombies could essentially rip off the earlier versions by claiming they are all based on non-fiction texts, bypassing copyright and ownership law. This is the case with the first movie White Zombie. The producer of the 1929 stage play ‘Zombie’ attempted to sue those in charge of White Zombie for similarities and failed.
For fiction, there are quite a few short stories which did include the Haitian voodoo zonbi (there’s a lot of different spellings to indicate the original Haitian zonbi, nzambi, etc to it’s modern myth counterpart, the zombie) include Salt is not for Slaves by G W Hutter (salt will cause the zombi to become concious of their state) , The House in the Magnolias by August Derleth (A woman from Haiti is run out of the country for enslaving zombis, only to go to America and continue her black magic there), Song of the Slaves by Manly Wade Wellman (with an American as the bad guy rather than a Haitian or African). A lot of essays mention H P Lovecraft’s Herbert West – Re-animator series in the 1920’s (Movie version: Jeffrey Combs, for the freaking win!), but this story is more about science than voodoo, and doesn’t use the term zombie. Lovecraft wrote in letters that it was intended as a parody of Frankenstein.
The novels (which are damned hard to find) came a little later, more around the time of the zombie movies, such as The Whistling Ancestors by Richard Goddard (a story of evil racist megalomaniacs), You Can’t Hang the Dead by Leslie Carroll (I can’t find a copy of this at all or enough information to share, except that it’s a zombie story) and A Grave Must Be Deep by Theodore Roscoe (a voodoo mystery!). Voodoo was particularly popular with crime writers at the time.
Which story first uses the word zombie is contested. Most essays agree that it’s William Seabrook’s travelogue (1929), but some other essays say that it’s from ‘The Country of the Comers-Back’ by Lacfcadio Hearn (1889), and yet another essay says that the term actually was first published in French with Le Zombi du Grand Perou, ou la comtesse de Cocagne by Pierre-Corneille Bloessebois.
It’s fascinating to read about ‘original’ voodoo zombies, compared to the modern. The old are a mix of racism and post-colonial literature, most having been published after the Haitian Revolution and the burst of literature of zombies and voodoo is through the years of the US occupation of Haiti. Zombies, either possessed corpses or the living who were poisoned with a concoction to mimic death and then enslaved, are products of sorcery and magic. I can only think of a few modern examples of this use of magic (beware Native American burial grounds!).
White Zombie by Kieran M Murphy in Contemporary French and Francophone Studies, VOl 15, no 1
The Zombie Media Monster and its Evolution as a Sign and Historical Allegory by Ryan Lizardi, Masters Thesis
The Story of Zombi in Haiti by Louis P Mars in Man, vol 45
The Modern Zombie: Living Death in the Technological Age by Sarah Juliet Lauro, PHD thesis
Zombies Before Romero by Tony Chestor, article for the UK World Horror Convention in 2010 (found here)