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Monday, December 6, 2010

Novel chapter 1

Chapter 1: The screenwriter
I awoke as the midmorning rays of sun reached my eye level. I rolled onto my back and lay eyes closed for a minute before getting up and facing the intense cold that permeated throughout my apartment and removed any heat that lay there. Removing my arm from under the blankets I felt the needles of cold bore into it. Grimacing I fumbled around for my glasses and once my hands were around them quickly drew them back under the blanket. After savoring the last few moments of being warm I took a deep breath and prepared to face the cold and by extension the world.
When I was younger I always swore that I would never become the person who rode his bike in the snow. The idea of being unprotected in the cold ready to slip on ice and fall headlong into the street was the personification of ones life gone horribly wrong. If one was in such a position in witch they were forced to do something so foolish so horribly wrong I shuddered to think what else they dealt with on a daily basis. To me it represented failure. What kind of failure is open to interpretation. Maybe it was failure to own a car. Maybe it was the idea that nature controlled you. But maybe it was just my personal hatred of cold.
The younger version of my self would be disgusted. Years after swearing I would never become that person I was that person. Here I was on a bike riding through downtown in below zero grotesque mountains of snow piled many feet high in vacant parking lots. Below my wheels patches of ice threatened to derail my bike myself with it. Navigating the sidewalks was like trying to defuse a bomb. One wrong move and I would be face down in the snow arm broken or worse. The snow itself was coming down in razor sharp pellets bring visibility way down and searing past any exposed skin. Somehow I managed to cross several blocks before disaster struck. A particularly nasty patch of ice caused my bike to fly out from under me. I watched in horror as my bike slid out into the street. I scampered up and tried to make it to my bike before it was too late. It was too late. I watched a large truck filled with salt meant to remove the ice from the sidewalks ran over my bike leaving a barely recognizable pretzel of metal. The irony does not escape me.
After walking several blocks wind searing past my face I finally reached my destination. The place in question was a coffee shop with a premeditated “creative” vide. It was a perfect example of a stereotypical artsy place down to the infuriating post modern art, the overpriced drinks that tasted like coffee you could get anywhere else for much cheaper, and the terrible poets complaining about how no one understands their work. There was some no name guitarist strumming self satisfying in the background. Needless to say I loved the place. It was so terrible but like any good train wreck you couldn’t look away. After ordering a drink that tasted like sweetened mud I walked over to where my friend sat. He sat in what had formerly been a crate (part of the shops “green” initiative) sipping a drink while flipping through a magazine left on the table by the previous occupant. It took him several seconds of me standing over him to recognize my presence. With a look of confusion and then realization he noticed me.
“Ah there you are. Have fun getting over here”
“Oh yes riding my bike through the ice and snow was the highlight of my day even my week”
“Huh that’s funny because you often lament that”
“I’m trying to decide weather you don’t understand my sense of humor or understand it perfectly”
“I think you know that answer”
“Do I?”
“Well yes I’ve known you since college so…”
“Even then you never got sarcasm”
“Aha it was sarcasm!”
“Just wow”
“Well if you want it like this…”
“Look I have a screenplay to write and you have something to write”
“Ahem it’s a novel”
“Yeah the “novel” you’ve been working for how many years”
“This is a new one”
“Oh fine.”
At that point we gave each other an annoyed look and put our heads down to our computers. At that time I was going through about the eighth rewrite of my screenplay.
My screenplay had begun several years ago. It had begun as my naive attempt to deconstruct the idea of film and still create a film that worked as an entertainment level as well. The idea and the first draft had been extremely easy to the point where I believed that I would soon be so enriched by this screenplay that I would be able to quit my job and just be a screenwriter. Then came the rewrites and that dream was put away. Instead I began to obsess over the script forever attempting to create perfection. What instead happened was that I became so bogged down with details that my screenplay became a heaping mess that failed on almost every level. It succeeded only as a vanity project of an overindulgent man. It was then I seriously considered giving it up and starting fresh. However I then considered that I had sunk two years into the thing and I wouldn’t just stop. The attempt to salvage the mess became drafts four to five. Soon I had brought it back to earth and began to try to get it produced. It was soon picked up by a small film company by the name of Panorama Pictures. It was to be the most elaborate project they had ever produced. Even so it seemed like my movie was going to be produced. I would finally make a break in to the business. I was living a great life. I came close to quitting my job, proposing to my girlfriend, being somebody. However like all good things it would soon come to the end.
I remember December, 3, 2006 better than almost any other day. It began with my normal trip to the preproduction meeting with my director. The meeting happened in a restaurant out in the suburbs near where he worked out a “major part of his inspiration ritual”. The place was like any other restaurant in the area down to the smells of bland food covered up by spices and men in suits having hushed conversations over cheap beer and fish. As I waited for my director I did as I usually did and pulled out a notepad and paper and began jotting down the conversations of people around me. I always tried but somehow succeeded in exceeding some of the odder ones I heard. For instance once two people were talking about the best methods for robbing a bank, others spoke about the implied internal conflict in Garfield comics, while still others discussed the others former job grading SATs and the odd names he came across and others still debated weather it was odd to have their 50 year old son go into a time out for refusing to eat his vegetables. Anyway that day the conversations were relatively mundane. The only one that came anywhere near interesting was a man telling his date about his pets named after characters in the lion king. It was interesting but nothing worth working into my next screenplay. As I listened I sat in my chair consuming basket after basket of appetizer bread wondering when my director would show up. When he did finally show up he had his cell phone in hand grave look on his face. He walked over to my table like a doctor about to give awful news. When he came to the table he stayed silent saying nothing but his drink order. I waited with a sick anticipation for his implied awful news. He didn’t speak just downing one drink and then another. The bread I had just eaten began to fell heavier. Then after three drinks he spoke.
“It’s over”
“You know what I just said don’t make me repeat it.”
“But what? What’s over?
“Panorama it’s all down the toilet.”
“Seriously it went under…but what about…how….wait what happened?”
“Our grant money all gone. Apparently making a film that consisted only of a fat man dancing is not in good “taste””
“But my movie what about that?”
“Ha are you kidding me its over just like the whole company.”
“So all that work….”
“Oh wow…”
“Well now I have to tell everyone movies over and I’m um sorry”
He than left me alone in a restaurant by a lake surrounded by my own uneaten food and the cloud of failure. In the next few weeks I became a self-pitying idiot. No one could stand to be around me. My girlfriend broke up with me. My script became just another dead weight. However now I am close to finishing yet another rewrite. I have been working on this script for four years. I am not screwing up my next opportunity.

written: over the past three weeks
Time: 9-11 pm
albums listened to: Muse the resistance, Vampire weekend Contra, Gorillaz: Plastic Beach
food consumed: nothing special
status: work in progress feedback wanted

1 comment:

  1. There's an over use of I and me. First person writing is very difficult. There are several words that are used repeatedly. Try to vary your sentence structure to keep the reading interesting.
    After reading this, I don't have a strong perspective on who the character is.
    The conversational sections were a bit confusing. Breaking them up with some descriptives about the actions of the speaker may help that.
    I'd be interested in seeing an overall outline to better grasp the flow of the story.
    Hope this helps?