November 24, 2009 by jamesessj
Very close, now, to finishing “The Cemetery,” the screenplay I’ve been working on for the last several weeks. The idea for this story has been with me since 1990, when I went with a friend to a cemetery in Fresno late at night to read/hear stories. I honestly don’t remember much about the night other than that one guy read H.P. Lovecraft’s “Imprisoned With The Pharaohs” and that it went on…and on…and on..Lord knows I love Lovecraft, but hearing him read aloud is perhaps not the best way to experience his particular genius. (Although the madness that results is entirely in keeping.)
“The Cemetery” shares with another recently completed screenplay, “The Apprentice,” a gestation time that’s been positively elephantine — going on 20 years for the former, going on 18 years for the latter. As related in my earlier post, I don’t understand quite what it is that’s allowed me suddenly to finish these long-standing projects, but whatever it is, I’d worship it like a golden calf if only it would show its face. Except that, of course, as so often happens when one starts worshiping golden calves, that would ruin everything.
I’m reminded of Neil Gaiman’s story “Calliope” from his Sandman run — wherein the muse Calliope is kept prisoner by a writer so that she can…service him…with her musical (muse/musical? Never realized the connection there, silly me) services. That writer enjoys enormous success before his eventual inevitable comeuppance, and I feel that I, too, will suffer an eventual inevitable comeuppance, but that could simply be because I always feel I’m on the verge of an eventual inevitable comeuppance.
I have not kept a muse prisoner (yet), so I’ve no reliable way of knowing whether the stuff I’m doing is any good. I wish there was a way to know — aside, that is, from feeling in my bones that it is (my bones are great with changes in the weather, not so much with literary criticism) or the usual avenue of sending it out like a lure in the river and waiting for some agent/producer/trout to bite.
For now, it’s enough to say: Look, after 20 years.