This short is actually a story within a story as it is a tale told to one of the characters in a novel I am trying and failing to write entitled Orchid Grove. I thought I'd post it here today with it being Halloween after all. I got cold feet with this particular part of the novel for awhile due to the ending and changed it considerably recently but I thought I'd put it here in it's original form so I hope you like it.
Ballad Of A Dead Heart
By Andrew G. Carson
The reason behind the loss of light had run it's assault course through his already paranoia- overloaded brain his nervous attempts to force his eyes to become accustomed to the now pitch darkness he found himself blanketed within were evidence of that. So were the cold beads of sweat that dripped slowly, teasingly down the back of his now goose bump riddled neck sending a quiet scream to the very core of his soul. Day turns to night that was a certainty but here and now night was not the certainty he feared it was what night brought along with it, what it brought was the darkness and those who creep within.
His breath heavy and shallow his heart pounding in his chest and pounded in his ears as he tried to collect what was left of his once strong resolve, a resolve that had once helped him defeat his inner demons twelve years prior. A resolve that had help him stare the reaper in the eye and kept his nerves intact as the reaper blinked first. A resolve that was now abandoning him for the threat that lay ahead was far to terrifying and far to intense for it to remain, a threat from within the darkness. He knew his own mind couldn't be trusted the years of alcohol abuse had put end to that but he had nothing left to rely upon in his moment of truth a moment when a drink was the last thing he wanted and the last thing he was thinking about but again maybe that's what his mind wanted for him to put down his guard long enough for it to take advantage. No he would have to rely solely on instinct solely on his gut if he was to survive through the night and survive long enough to see his wife's face one last time.
He hugged the floor beneath him with all the strength he had and contemplated the path ahead, did he have the strength to push on till morning? Can he find the strength within his broken body to scrape and fight his way through hell to hold his wife's hand again? He knew deep down what the answer to those questions truly was but maybe that's why he can manage to try. Maybe after all the years of pain, distrust and heartbreak his final attempt to make peace with her to risk his life and/or his sanity would be what finally could lead her to forgive him or at least not hate him, he'd settle for her not hating him anymore. It was her hate for him that he couldn't take anymore and what had led him to this dark damp place and only her forgiveness could save his soul before he met his maker.
His hands shook as he slowly raised his blood covered body to a vertical stance, his jaw quivered with the memory of defeat and he struggled to fight off his knees from buckling as he took his first step in what seemed like a lifetime. CREEK, CREEK each step was accompanied by an echoing reminder of the extra thirty pounds he was now carrying around with him. CREEK, CREEK he almost found himself begging his feet to stay quiet but the absurdity of it made him laugh, "my God" he thought, "is that my voice do I really sound that old?" How drink has aged his thirty something body he now sounding something akin to his father a man of seventy three and a man he despised for being such a hard act to follow after all when your father has accomplished more in a lifetime than most could in ten how the hell do you follow it? No matter what you do or what you become you are destined to always be a disappointment and that's how he felt every time he looked into his father's eyes rightly or wrongly a painful disappointment.
As he reached the door he outstretched his hand slowly and carefully in search of the elusive handle and hoping to find nothing else. A sigh of relief thundered from within him as his hand touched the cold metal. He slowly drew in a large gulp of tainted air before methodically pushing down on the handle and freeing the door from it's frame and sending it wide open. He was greeted by a wave of emotion as his eyes became accustomed to the candlelit room laid bare in front of him. Wall to wall decorated in blood and it was at this moment he remembered what had led him to the hallway outside in the first place. 'No, NO what have I done? NO.' His pleads faded to a silent wail as the image of his wife flashed before his eyes. He remembered that he had tried to make amends with her but she pushed him away she had pushed him down and poured the devil's blood over him sending him into an unholy rage and leaving him hours later kneeling before her now cold, wet, patchwork corpse with nothing but hate and an empty bottle for company and all he can think about is "Where can I get my next drink?" His soul unsaved, his heart broken his mind lost in the darkness with those who creep within.
The Housebound Writer
Sunday, 31 October 2010
Tuesday, 26 October 2010
A wiser man than me once said "Life's a gamble and you haven't experienced it till you take a deep breath and roll those dice", for me life has been somewhat of a long wait on my turn to roll those dice and knowing my luck I'll crap out first go, lol. The gamble I've been considering taking is to step behind a film camera for the first time in close to a decade and to film my first short film since college. Not really a gamble many would say but for me it conceivably is as a mixture of health concerns and the fact I've practically been living like a recluse all this time is playing heavily on my mind.
My back and nerve problems (loss of feeling in hands and feet) are the least of my worries it's more to do with my memory not being what it once was hell I blanked on my dog's name the other day when I was trying to get him to stop barking and the fact the trigger for my seizures is anxiety and low budget film shoots tend to be very anxious places at the best of times is but if I don't take the chance what's the alternative? I'm to out of the way of studying to go back to college and I've taken far to many knocks to the head to be a competent student. In the current financial climate nobody is hiring a 28 year old with the kind of health problems and work or lack of work history like I have. The way I see it is it's up to me to forge my future career as a screenwriter and or film maker and the best way I can see to do it is to get one of my scripts on screen and the quickest way to do so is to film it myself.
I'll have to be very creative as my budget will make most low budget shorts look like Hollywood blockbusters in comparison as I'll be financing the project myself to hopefully showcase online as the festival route is always a costly one for new film makers. It will be a real guerrilla shoot and like Robert Rodriquez did with his script for El Mariachi I'll incorporate into my script props and locations I know I can get access to. Saying that for the first time in a long time I'm actually quite excited about something and hopefully it will lead to other things down the road. Anyhoo I'll finish this blog post there on a some what upbeat note.
The Housebound Writer
Monday, 18 October 2010
Recently I have gotten back in touch with a online friend of mine (Milo) from Germany that due to his college commitments had fallen off the radar over the last four months but hey I was off the radar for just short of two with a rather less creative reason. As per our usual the topic changed swiftly from the- how have you been my friend?/ What are you working on? Kind of questions to more philosophical ones about the craft of writing such as: Do you have to have first hand experiences of the subjects you write about to truly get to the emotional core of your characters and understand their situation? Does writing only about what you know expand the characters and create an authentic feel to your subject or just limit you as a writer and storyteller?
These are the kinds of things we will converse about for hours yet as a person I tend not to think about when writing. My stories all have some personal element even if my story was set on another planet I'd put something in their of myself, I guess I use it as my way of creating a bond with my characters and I've never really considered it to be a particularly bad thing but I guess it could be conceived that my writing has always got a slightly dark undercurrent running through it some may consider that to be my "voice" as a writer or others may realize it to be my glass is half empty outlook on life either way I'm probably stuck with it for the immediate future at least. In my opinion the old adage write what you know is good in principle if you know a lot more than me, lol, I write characters based in part on people I've met on/offline and tend to impart some of my life's tortures onto at least one of them in each story other than that I tend to let my imagination run free.
I don't think writing about your own life experiences is limiting for a writer's longevity as you will continue to experience them up until you breathe your last breath but I think taking creative risks and stepping out of your comfort zone regularly is vitally important to hone your craft as a writer even for a run of the mill hack like myself. Another question he brought up was has the loss of a definitive white hat and black hat divide within modern television and film creating the anti hero led to in part the influx of morally ambiguous youths? I know what your thinking what a time to give up drinking, lol, I was thinking the same thing. He likes to ask me questions that leave me scratching my head and thinking what are you smoking kid?
So for anyone in the dark on the white hat/ black hat reference it refers to the old myth that in the early western movies the good guys wore white hats and the bad guys always wore black. Personally again this is only my opinion not the gospel truth just one slightly daft Scottish guy's opinion here but I'd say the antihero isn't a new concept remotely and I think the same argument was raised in the late 70s early 80s during the boom of the video nasties (banned horror movies) that those horror films would lead kids to loose their morals and although undoubtedly some people can be effected by any violent content be it in film or a TV show for the most part I think it's not a valid argument. TV and Cinema shouldn't be responsible for teaching children morals that is the job of their legal guardian and their teachers at school unless of course we're talking about Sesame Street or any other show like that.
The anti hero is a character type that is popular because she/he is usually anti authority and who wouldn't want to talk trash to their boss and get away with it? I don't even work and I'd love to do that, lol. I think in general it's the fact that most people have a strong moral compass that leads to these characters being so widely appreciated as they get to do the stuff we would like to do but know to be wrong that is what makes them so darn interesting. Anyhoo I've babbled on long enough and can't actually remember what I was originally going to write in this post as all this was going to be paragraph one only, lol, oops.
The Housebound Writer
Wednesday, 13 October 2010
This would have been blog post number 52 rather than 51 but as usual I was distracted over the weekend by other things and never seemed to have the time to sit down and put fingers to keys. I'm sitting here with the live coverage of the Chilean Miner's rescue attempt running on the television beside me which is 12 hours in and 13 miners have been successfully rescued and reunited with their families so far. It is events like this that really puts the minor league crap in our lives into perspective it truly is amazing the things we will let get to us and determine our moods for the day.
I recently got new glasses for the first time in 6 years and although I thought my eyesight hadn't really changed over that time I quickly discovered at my eye test that I couldn't even read the second line with my old glasses on. So a weekend of headaches and feeling cross-eyed for some bizarre reason later I'm finally getting used to the new stronger lenses but it hasn't stopped me moaning about them. As I was saying it's amazing what we complain about in life here is me complaining about having better eyesight and these 33 men have been stuck in a mine for over 60 days and they are coming out with big smiles on their faces, they have stayed so positive throughout their struggle it really makes me feel like a complete muppet for complaining at all, lol, but I'm only human after all.
I was checking out the stats page for my blog which I will admit I hadn't actually done before shockingly and was surprised and delighted to see that the joint second most popular place for my blog was Saudi Arabia. I knew the majority of my blogs' following would come from across the pond in America as I'm only really listed on American blog directories as I didn't find any UK ones that interested me but to find this blog has a following in Saudi Arabia is really cool so "shokran jazeelan" to you all, I think that was right you can never really 100% trust translation websites they rarely have Scottish slang translations right so what chance do they have of getting it right with Arabic?
In movie related news Hollywood legend Morgan Freeman is about to join an exclusive club joining fellow members Steven Spielberg, Orson Welles, Clint Eastwood, Alfred Hitchcock, Al Pacino and Meryl Streep as the Oscar-winning actor has been selected by the American Film Institute to receive the 39th Life Achievement Award, the organisation's highest honour for a career in film. A well deserved honour for a great actor in my opinion anyhoo that's enough rambling from me.
The Housebound Writer
Thursday, 7 October 2010
It's feels kind of strange sitting down to write this after such a long break from blogging, a break that was not planned but was probably much needed. I've been doing a lot of soul searching as of late and contemplating the future and for the first time in a long time not in a pessimistic fashion. It's been a long road to travel down over the last decade and for a brief moment there I was considering heading up the next off ramp but I guess the journey isn't over quite yet. I've dusted off an old script of mine recently and have begun the long rewrite process on it to get my eye back in as any writer will know all to well the worst thing you can do is take to long a break away from honing your craft.
A mind is a terrible think to waste they say and being someone who has had little outlet for creativity over the years mine is all but dust and faded words that no longer rhyme. I even stopped writing recently and am finding even that brief break from it has effected my writing style greatly. The last few short stories I've written have all headed in one direction head first straight through an unhappy ending. My attempted scripts of late have lacked my usual jokes in the 'action' for the reader's benefit but luckily for me I am slowly starting to change this unfortunate and unwanted trend. Don't get me wrong not every story should have a happy ending and depending on tone and subject matter not every screenplay should have in jokes for the reader but the subjects I tend to write about do, my work has been effected by my mental state at the time of writing I guess. I had even started to feel that writing was becoming like a chore for me to do and I've never felt that way before and hope I never will again.
A fellow writer friend of mine named John Cooper Smith, who I met online at a screenwriting forum, sold his first spec script to a small production house who specialise in making straight to DVD horror films and my first reaction instead of being happy for him was flat out jealousy, how wrong is that? His script is about a girl who finds out she was adopted as a baby and begins to search for her parents. Describing the rest would give the ending away so I'll just say it'll be gory for sure. The working title is "Family Dies" and should be released late next year, I'll try to get a link to the website for the film when it's up and running.
Anyway I can hear my wee niece getting in from school so no doubt she'll want her daft uncle to give her a hand with her homework. Thankfully she's only 5 so it's writing words like 'do', 'as' or 'cat' three or four times so nothing to difficult I dread the first time she gets the times tables to learn, lol, I know them all except for the 7 and 11 off by heart I guess I've had to many head knocks to remember them all.
The Housebound Writer