Movie Night – Completed

Movie Night is finished. At various times this story has been known by other names, including – for about a year: ‘Europa’. It took longer than expected to get through the various drafts. I had particular trouble with part 1 of the story (there are 4 parts), and I’m still not completely sure it’s as good as it can be, but it was a difficult concept and I feel that I’ve done as much with it as I’m able to, at least for now. So I’m calling it.

‘Movie Night’ is my first novelette. That is, something longer than a short story but not as long as a novella (novellas are at least 17,000 words and Movie Night is just under 14,000 words long). How did I come to write such a relatively long story? I’m glad you asked. Actually it’s the result of a long (4 years) experimental process that was not planned at the start, but which came into being and gradually assumed focus as I travelled the journey. Originally, in 2014 I wrote a short story entitled ‘Get Away’, which forms part 2 of Movie Night. Get Away is a deliberately obscure little story that I think would have left any reader with a lot of questions. The following year I had an idea for another story that would provide some clues to what I think of as the meta-themes in Get Away. ‘House Call’ (originally titled: ‘Forever’) forms part 3 of Movie Night. It’s not a sequel to Get Away, but it is closely, if somewhat tangentially connected. But I think the addition of House Call raised further questions about just exactly what the hell is going on in this strange universe. A couple of months ago, while holidaying in Sweden I conceived two further parts, a start and an end that would bookend the two existing stories, tie the whole thing together and hopefully give it some kind of understandable form. These have become part 1: ‘Movie Night’ and part 4: ‘Visiting Hour’.

Thus far I’m the only living soul that has read Movie Night through from start to end. I think people are going to find it a bit of a slog. I’m not sure if the connections between the 4 parts are sufficiently clear and obvious. I think most readers are likely to come to the end of it scratching their metaphorical heads and, if they have the energy, pondering, possibly re-reading sections and developing theories. And that’s pretty much the reader-experience I’ve been aiming for through the whole experiment. It’s about getting the right balance: sufficient strangeness to force you to question the story’s meaning, while at the same time, sufficient clues and connections to permit some level of understanding.

The difficulty now will be trying to get it placed somewhere. The market for fiction of this length is far smaller than for shorter stories. If anyone has any ideas, please let me know. The little film poster at the top of this post is for a 1940 German film named: ‘Wunschkonzert’. This film – which was a pet project of Joseph Goebbels – was central in the research I undertook for part 3: ‘House Call’, and in fact features in the story, though it is not referred to by name.

In other news, I’ve started listening to Bob Dylan’s 1966 album: ‘Blonde on Blonde’. My whole life I’ve had no interest in Dylan’s music, but for some reason I’ve now developed the desire to understand it. I’ve let it into my life and I’m seeing if it gets under my skin. The times, they are a-changing.

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The Flood – Completed, and Movie Night

We did a read through of The Flood on Friday night. I made final adjustments, printed it out and sent it off to the Noosa Arts Theatre One-Act Playwriting Competition this morning. I’m happy with it. Fingers crossed!

Now I’m working on an unusual project. In 2014 and 2015 I wrote two stories that paralleled each other – they covered the same events, happening to the same characters, but from the perspective of two very different dimensions – yes, It’s strange. Those two stories were “Get Away” and “Forever”. I always planned to tie these stories together with some additional content that would provide a meta-view; an explanation for how these dimensions are connected, and over the past year I’ve tried out a number of theories. During my walk in Sweden this all came together. I sat down on a rock in the middle of the arctic wilderness and made copious notes about what was needed to make a single, large, coherent piece out of these two existing stories. The resulting new amalgamation will be titled: “Movie Night”. It will probably fall short of a “Novella” by several thousand words, but it will be a very long, short story. Probably about 13 or 14 thousand words. I’m a few nights into working on this now. It’s starting to take shape.

The Flood complete to 1st draft stage

The Flood is now a complete narrative, which is where I wanted it to be at this point. There’s a sequence of edits I’ll go through next, but I wanted to have a complete story from start to end, before I head to Sweden, which happens a week from now.

I like the play. I think it’s retained the idea I started with, which was to explore what happens when a stable situation, with unbalanced power relationships, is invaded by an outsider. The characters are Gideon, the father. Danny, his teenage son, and Magill, the outsider. There are a number of other issues floating around in the narrative, and this is my first play to incorporate physical violence, which was fun to write. It also contains – or at least flirts with – elements of absurdist theatre, which I think aligns it somewhat to the first play I wrote 3 years ago: “Final Performance”.

Anyway, as I said, I’m heading to Sweden a week from now and I’ll be there for 3 weeks, then, when I get back, I’ll submit The Flood to the One Act Play competition, then I guess I’ll re-commence work on The Worm, starting on Part 3. I also have a couple of ideas for new sci-fi stories. My interest in writing sci-fi has been reignited by the acceptance of The Fear Engine by Andromeda Spaceways Magazine. I guess I feel like if I can get one sci-fi story accepted, then perhaps I could get another sci-fi story accepted, or maybe it’s at least worth trying for that.

The Fear Engine – accepted

Woke up this morning to a lovely piece of news. The Fear Engine: a sci-fi story I wrote some time back, has been accepted by Andromeda Spaceways magazine. Subject to there being no insurmountable problems, it will be included in issue #68, published 1 September.

This is a milestone for me, my first paid short story publication!

Chapter 10 – and Part 2 Complete

Chapter 10 has been hard to finish. For one thing, it was a question of aiming everything towards this critical point and having a number of key story transitions all take place at that same point – that took some difficult manipulating. For another thing, while writing chapter 10, I had a number of revelations that caused me to significantly revise earlier parts of the story. I’m actually still going through that process, but those revisions are noted. I know what needs to be done. I’ve reached the end of the chapter 10 narrative and I’m prepared to call it; to feel OK about reaching this point. The novel is currently 52,782 words long.

The revelations are really interesting. I found out about the purpose of the lioness in the story. Up until now she’s been there because, frankly, it instinctively felt right for her to be there. But now I understand why it felt right. There is a narrative purpose, very much rooted in the back story that has increasingly been revealed as the story builds forward. And there’s an essential symbolic role for her to perform. It’s lucky I let my instincts guide me. On this single, unique occasion they’ve proven valid. A few tweaks are still needed to cement this new understanding of her, but it positions her in the story so much more elegantly, and necessarily! She has changed her name, from Skaistule to Vienmēr – yes, an odd name, I know.

I’ve also been researching and, as a result, been able to draw elements of traditional European mythology into the story. I think these elements will enrich part 3 and they fit really well with what already exists in the story and with what was already planned for part 3.

I’m pretty happy with the story at this point, and enthusiastic about getting into part 3. I’m also enthusiastic about writing The Flood, which I’ll be getting into first. I guess the next time I’ll be updating this page, it’ll probably be about that! By the way, how beautiful is this image of a lioness I found on Google image search? It’s by Swedish photographer: Pekka Järventaus. You can see more of his work here.

Weak Coupling finished

I’ve just finished a new short story I’ve been working on over the past couple of weeks, a super-short, short story in fact. At just 1,700 words it’s over almost before it gets started, but I think it says what it needs to in the space it has. It’s a horror story. I guess the first horror story I’ve written, although some spooky elements have made their way into some of my things, I don’t think I could call any of them: “Horror”, and I think I can with this one.

It’s called “Weak Coupling”. It’s a story I started writing maybe 3 years ago – one of the very first stories I ever attempted. I gave it up back then because it just didn’t feel like it was working, but a couple of weeks ago I had two revelations about things I could try with this story, one of which was to make it very short, the other of which was to write the whole thing in first person, so I’ve tried those ideas and… well, I have a new finished story.

Now I’m back into The Worm. I’m somewhere in the middle of Chapter 10 at the moment. Getting this chapter finished will be a bit of a milestone because it completes Part 2 of the novel. I’ll officially be 2/3 through!

After that I’m going to write my next short play: “The Flood” and if I can get all that done before I go to Sweden in August, I’ll be happy.