I decided to keep mom and dad in the dark about the project. Investors have a way of meddling with an artist’s vision. I wanted to retain creative control. I was an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs don’t ask for their parents’ permission. Once they saw what a hit it could be, no one would make me apologize for success.
This is an idea that originated on Twitter. The Tweet went:
#YouKnowYouAreAWriterWhen you’re never going to have a good alibi for where you were on the night of…
— Drew Chial (@DrewChial) May 22, 2013
Turns out a lot of writers have had this thought. We’re a solitary lot. If some flatfoot thought we looked good for a crime they’d be grilling us for awhile. We’re the red herrings that are mistaken for piranhas. They’d see our calm demeanor as a mask to hide our neurosis. They’d see our quiet manner as a smoke screen for an underlying rage. They’d peg us as self-involved sociopathic narcissists.
They wouldn’t be too far from the truth.
Under the harsh interigation room lights, they’d make us tell our stories. They’d ask where our ideas came from. They’d ask, “What do you mean you let your characters tell the story? Do you hear voices? What else do they tell you to do?”
Tread very carefully when answering their questions. They’re not fans and you are not at a reading.
Tell them to check the date and time stamps in the meta data from your document files. Tell them to interview all those poor souls you’ve pushed your story on. Get your beta readers on the line, tell them you’re going to need a whole lot of feedback to get you off the hook for this one.
This is my fourth audio short to feature a soundtrack. These pieces are heavily influenced by the Ruby the Galactic Gumshoe a radio dramas from the 80s (worth your time).
I’m digging the contrast between the jazzy upright bass and the haunting ambient synth. It’s like beatneck poetry scored by Aphex Twin.
Now it wouldn’t be me if I didn’t take you for a stroll through the graveyard. Disembodied fingers walk the scale of a harpsichord, unearthed from the basment of an old manor, clogged with cobwebs, detuned by time.
Top that off with some knee slapping, finger snapping percusion.
I’m really proud of this piece. I’ve listened to it way too many times already. Continue reading The Writer’s Alibi (Audio Short)
This is a video poem shot on my iPhone. A study in low light, lens flare and auto focus. I was looking for a visual component for my audio short Curbside Noir. It needed something to match the somber tone of its music and the spirit of its monologue. It had to be dark. It had to paint the world in silhouettes and shadows.
When it rained on the walk home, I took advantage of it, bobbing from entryway to entryway, hugging the storefronts. I cupped my fingers into a tarp over my phone. Then I let the storm put on a show.
Drizzle swarmed the street lamps. Headlights set the air aglow. Droplets turned everything into a reflective surface. Puddles tinted the street a shade of amber, light mirrored in the asphalt. I shot what I could before the rain water could trickle through my fingers. Forgive me if my white balance is a little off.
Waves mounted the curbs. Tide came to the boulevard. Little rivers flowed down the sidewalk. My shoes went for a dip. My jeans weighted my ankles. Water had pooled in the rolled up denim. There might just be a tad bit of motion blur.
Trees argued with the breeze. Leafs fluttered with the thunder. Branches swatted at the night and my video is all the better for it.
Enjoy it with the blinds closed. Continue reading Curbside Noir (Video Short)
My job was to summarize your magnum opus into a blurb. To condense your gut wrenching work into a column no larger than an obituary. To turn your hero’s journey into a stroll. To turn your feast for the imagination into an hors d’oeuvres. To take your epic and make it a limerick.
Have you ever tried to write a haiku? Ever try to right one with a three-act structure?
They gave me a pre-formatted template to write all of my coverages in. Much like a Tweet, I only had so many characters to summarize a stack of pages. I had to turn your screenplay into an elevator pitch, a talking trailer, a cinematic stanza. You know when someone says, “Just give me the cliff notes.” That was my job, to turn your rambling prose into a cliff note. Continue reading How to Build a Memory Palace Pitch
Writing a novel is like being in a relationship with a high maintenance person. Novels want all of your free time. They want the leading role in you day planner. They want you to take them everywhere. It doesn’t matter if you’re out with friends that you never get to see, your novel has something to say and you’re going to listen. Sneak your phone out and type a few paragraphs.
Your Novel looks at your short stories and says, “Who’s that then? They seem pretty cute? Is there something going on between the two of you that I should know about?”
Looking back on your relationship, your novel is never what you thought it was. The ruby colored glasses come off and you see all the edits you’re going to have to make, all the couple’s retreats and all the counseling. You will constantly doubt if it’s all worth it.
Then publishing your novel is like planing a wedding. First you have to find a place. Then they have to set a date. Then you have to send out the invites. It is work.
Like any relationship, writing a novel takes commitment.
This audio short is about what happens when you think you don’t have what it takes to see that commitment through. It’s my third piece to feature music. The first two were poems this is a fully realized short story. Enjoy!
Quitting smoking introduced me to a new side of my personality. There was a thunder cloud where my aura ought to be. It drove my nails into my palms at the first sign of conflict. There’s Dr. Jekyll, there’s Mr. Hyde and then there’s Sir Nicotine Withdrawal. Guess which one would win in a fight?
I found myself grinding my teeth at the announcement of each new homework assignment, gripping the desk, like the Hulk preparing to launch a car into a building. I saved my short supply of nicotine gum for just such an occasion. These anger attacks weren’t justified by any slight against me, they just were.
This got me thinking about the nature of anger, how I’m predisposed to feel it, with or without cigarettes.
Sometimes my Subconscious Mind just observes something, a song or a fashion trend, and says, “I hate that.”
My Conscious Mind says, “Care to explain why you hate that? Could you show me the data that brought you to said conclusion?”
My Subconscious frowns, shakes it’s head, a child who didn’t get the toy he wanted. He says, “I hate it therefore you hate it. We both hate it.”
My Conscious Mind sighs. His exhale whistles through his teeth like a tea kettle. He says, “You don’t know a thing about the thing you hate, but you want to make up both our minds for us.”
My Subconscious nods, “And I’ll keep bring it up until I get my way.”
This 2 minute audio short is about that internal arguement our conscious minds have with our subconscious, our super-egos with our ids, our brains versus our guts. It’s the 2nd audio short to feature haunting music and won’t be the last. Enjoy! Continue reading The Baseless Hate (Audio Short)
This is a soundtrack for those moments when you’re stuck in limbo with just your impotent rage to keep you company. When you’re pacing back and forth on the same street corner. When you’re caught without an umbrella and you just soak it all in. When its pitch black outside and it suits you just fine.
This is an internal monologue for when the bad guys leave you in a pit of snakes. When you’ve got no traction and you’ve got to claw your way up. When life doesn’t bother to give you lemons. When it just squeezes you dry. When the hand of fate presses you down into your lowest possible moment. The one that comes right before the revelation that you either have to make a change or be changed.
This too will pass, but you’re the one who’s stuck with the mess it leaves behind.
This is your pain in black in white, emphasis on the black, on the Rembrandt lighting, on the shadows it casts. This is the alley where they catch you. Where you make your last stand. Where fedoras are helmets and trench coats are security blankets. Where you’re puzzled but never quite defeated. You’re an artist with a brush up your sleeve. It’s time for you to make some outlines on the sidewalk.
This audio short is about that film noir attitude seeping into our lives, empowering us to stand up to each and every son-of-a-bitch that comes our way. This is the first of my audio shorts to get its own score, a haunting piano melody, infused with synths and a subtle beat. The piece needed this haunting soundtrack to bring you to that dark alley, where you’re surrounded by thugs. Pain and its henchmen, here to collect their debt.
Pain has already made such an awful mess of our lives. Let’s make a mess of it. Continue reading Curbside Noir (Audio Short)
The forest is alive with nodding treetops. They’ve come to a consensus. Each of them agree to throw their branches up into the air, to cast their pinecones into the night. Each of them creak as they bow to one another. Their trunks bend, their leafs curtsy. They dance. We have a good view from our place on the prairie. We watch the current cascade through them. It looks like an evergreen chorus line, especially when the trees kick up their skirts, and something comes rushing out. Continue reading The Night the Moon Came Down to Earth
There are two Internets. One where snark is the common language, where entitlement is the common currency, where shock value is the principle form of recreation, where the elevation of one’s self comes at the expense of another, where anonymity grants its people the right to turn off the lights and throw punches at the dark.
Then there’s the other Internet. The one I didn’t know about until recently. The one where support is the common language, where sharing is the common currency, where participating is the principle form of recreation, where free advice is on tap, where character is king, and where criticism takes a backseat to feedback.
A place far from the racist-homophobic-misogynistic slurs of twelve-year-olds wearing XBOX headsets (yeah, I said it).
This is an audio short dedicated to that second Internet. It’s about putting your guard down and letting other people in. It ends on a bittersweet note, but that’s okay.
Every writer runs the risk of letting their characters become so powerful that they take over their story, but sometimes the story is not enough. Sometimes the characters sneak into the writer’s waking life and start making changes of their own.
This is an audio short about a writer whose inspiration came calling for him in the middle of the night.