Okay, so this post is going to really out me as a super nerd, but I’m going to make my confession anyway. The past week or so, I’ve been totally obsessed with this video game called “Plants Vs. Zombies.” What began as an innocent attempt to ‘bond’ with my husband, as turned into me practically frothing at the mouth, asking, “can I play Plants Vs. Zombies? Please?”
The premise of the game is that zombies are trying to invade the players house. You keep the zombies away by planting peashooters, sunflowers (which provide the energy to plant the plants), walnuts, and other assorted foliage and greenery that then “fight” off the zombies. If the zombies get past the defenses, the screen fills with a green horror like type and someone screams, “Zombies Ate Your Brains!” and of course, I always scream in real life at the point as well.
So how does my regression into a twelve-year old boy relate to writing? Well, I’ve been thinking about the zombies as kind of like the “inner critic.” You know, the one that starts attacking as soon as you sit down to do anything that might actually take us into the zone of creative brilliance. The one that says, “you can’t do that,” or, “that’s not original,” or “what makes you think you have something to say,” and on and on. During my MFA studies, one instructor had us envision these voices as a “wall” of critics, made up of myriad faces and voices, dead and alive. My wall included everyone from old nemesis to Virginia Woolf (because I would never be able to write something that came remotely close to the exquisite beauty and intelligence of even one sentence in the Woolf canon).
But now, I’ve discovered a new trick. Those inner critics, those saboteurs are like these zombies, trying to crash through the blooming, verdant lawn of my imagination. And I must fight them tooth and nail, to keep them out of my house before they eat my brains, and sabotage my creative projects and impulses. Yeah, I’m probably looking to deeply into a video game as a way to justify my obsession, but there might be something to it, don’t you think?
How do you keep yourself creating when the zombies are trying to eat your brains?