Saturday, May 10, 2008

Not Alone in the Dark (Sorry Nick!)

Well, I'm going to try my hand at flash fiction again, this time in a submission to the Northern Haunts anthology going out over at Shroud. God bless Duotrope, the scourge of editors where I am concerned. I wasn't going to touch it, as I have a hard enough time keeping things under a 5,000 word limit, but tongiht I think I fleshed out an idea.

Years ago my Dad told me a story about his first job, riding a bike to deliver papers, and how his pre-dawn route took him past an old graveyard that just flat out freaked him out. I finally found that old graveyard today when I was heading out to a friend's house for dinner, at least in my mind. It was one of those images that pops in your head and nags you for hours on end, refusing to let go. So, while my wife and I were enjoying the company of two dear, old friends, I was thinking about the place in my head and what could happen there to a boy on a bike.

I also think that after dinner, as Dick and I were enjoying the view from his back porch in the country, I came out with a good line. We were trading actual ghost stories, a hobby of ours, while the ladies were chatting in the living room. I was asked about my penchant for writing things that are a little off-kilter...in other words, Apocalypse stories, horror stories, dark literary stuff that involves these mind-fuck (pardon the term, I'm just a crude country boy) angles. It got me thinking as I sipped a Hornsby.

My wife, after reading a recent, non-spec. fic. piece, looked at me and said "If you ever write anything happy, I think I'll have a heart attack." Never mind that, in my opinion, it WAS a happy piece if looked at from the side and with a slight squint. It was the thought, how she said it, that got me thinking about why I write what I write. So, a few ciders down and a bottle of bourbon calling, I lit a cigarette and put it in the best way I knew how to Dick when we talked about my subject matter.

"Well," I said, "I don't mind being in darkness. It doesn't scare me. I'm not really happy with not seeing what's there around me, but it doesn't bother me too much. What bothers me, what really scares me, is sitting in the light that's surrounded by darkness. Then you have to wonder what's at the edge of the light, watching, just waiting for a lantern to burn out or the campfire to die down. That's what scares me, and I think that's why I write what I do."

Now, if I can only force myself to be a better writer and sell some of this stuff...or just to sit down and write.

If I don't post some sort of word count tomorrow, I expect anyone reading this to beat me. For now, though, I'm smoking one more cigarette and heading off to bed.

Keep the lights burning bright,

J.C. Tabler

1 comment:

Catherine J Gardner said...

Ooh, I want to have a try for this one too. I got all excited when I read about it in my weekly Duotrope newsletter this morning. I agree - those poor editors. Though in this instance I think they're out looking for trouble. First off they tell us there will be four separate sections (haunts, beasts etc) and then they allow multiple submissions. I defy anyone not to try for every section.