Writer's Commentary: Christmas at Ground Zero

On Post: Christmas at Ground Zero
Date: The Preview Post, The Proverbial Zero Issue
For this sample post, I literally just chose the Christmas song that was playing at that moment in time. Because I make my own Christmas mixes every year and they can be… eclectic, I was lucky enough to have the fertile works of “Weird” Al Yankovich to inspire me.

The obvious track to take here was a literal interpretation of the song and that probably would have been interesting enough. But I was setting out to pointedly avoid this “easy” approach. For one thing, I felt like there woudn’t be much reason to read a story that was essentially a straight up adaptation of a song. For another, not every song lends itself to adapting so I predicted that if I got too used to that approach, I might get stuck without much idea what to do the moment such a tune came up. If I started thinking outside the box, I believed this would be less of a problem.
This is not to say to my choice was wildly unique. Comparing the break-up of a family to a war is a fairly old trope. That said, it appealed to me, so I didn’t push deeper. Plus, I hooked into the voice of a woman looking back on her teens pretty quickly. I know me and I know I tend to default to the male voice pretty easily (as we’ll probably see in reviewing the January Project) so I figured I should embrace these moments as they might not happen often.
As for the rest of it? I identified a few beats I wanted to hit—the bit about kids blaming themselves, Dad getting the phone call, Dad alone on the back porch, Mom visiting the kids in the basement, the family coming back together to talk to the non-present oldest child—and just sort of wrote towards them. Bits like setting it in the late 80’s/early 90’s (as evidenced by the Mutant League Football video game, lack of cell phones, etc) just sort of…happened. I liked it, but I never set out to put it there.
My favorite thing in the whole piece is the couch. I don’t know why, but I love that detail. For me, I could completely see, feel, and smell that couch.
The picture on the other hand? Not a fan. Was looking for a “divided family at Christmas” image and this was the closest I found. At the time, I was okay with it. Now though…pretty disappointed I settled on it.