absurdity, dreams, fictional, story

The Farmer’s Dream – A Story

nature-3125912_1280

 

It’s been a while, so I thought I’d share a little something I wrote a while back. Remember, when opportunity knocks you have the option to hide behind the sofa and pretend no one’s home.

 

The Farmer’s Dream

William was sleeping when the angel came to him.

He had been dreaming of hard labour in the field, ploughing and sowing. It was a common dream of his, one he’d often pondered the meaning of. He thought it was probably something to do with rebirth, or renewal, or fertility. More likely it was just too much cheese before bed.

In this dream, as in every previous dream of its kind, his plough would strike something hard, twist and buck in his hand. The dream would usually end there, but not tonight. Tonight the plough wrested away from his grip and sped off, leaving a deep groove in the soil behind it, merrily ploughing the rest of the field on its own.

He looked down at the ground, searching for whatever it was his plough had struck. A sharp corner poked out of the dirt. He dug away at its edges with his fingers, freeing it from the earth. He pulled it out to examine it more closely.

It was a box, about the size of his head, made of granite and marble but lighter than it should be. He was suddenly overcome by a strange feeling he hadn’t had on previous nights – he knew that this was a dream. He could feel the soft earth beneath his feet, could feel the cold rough surface of the box, but something was off; he was certain that he was actually asleep and in his own bed in the farmhouse.

“How curious,” he said to himself.

He looked around. The field was just as he remembered it from his waking hours, as far as he could tell. He wondered what would happen if he attempted to take control of the dream, perhaps to take flight or to change his surroundings. He looked at the plough retreating into the distance and willed it to come back. It didn’t.

“Perhaps I need a bit more practice,” he thought. “Let’s start with something small. Like opening this box.”

He opened the box.

A burst of bright light spilled out, blinding him. A great booming voice rang out in such rumbling tones that he could feel the soles of his feet vibrating.

WILLIAM, said the voice. HARK, WILLIAM.

William dropped the box in shock.

OW.

He nudged it gently with one toe. What was it?

WILLIAM, the voice resumed. ARE YOU HARKING?

“Um, I think you mean harkening?” William suggested.

GOOD, YOU ARE HARKING. PICK THE BOX UP, AND GAZE INTO THE LIGHT.

William did as he was told, though his hands were shaking so much he thought he would drop the box again. The strange voice rattled his back teeth.

I AM THE ANGEL OF DIVINE INTERVENTION. I AM TASKED WITH INTERVENING, DIVINELY. DO YOU COMPREHEND?

“No,” William answered honestly. The voice sighed, blowing the farmer’s hair back.

THEN I SHALL ELABORATE. I AM TO SET YOU ON AN ADVENTURE TO SEEK A GREAT FORTUNE. THE JOURNEY WILL SEND YOU FAR FROM HENCE AT GREAT PERIL, BUT IT IS OF HUGE IMPORT.

“What will I be importing?”

WHAT? NO. NO, I MEAN IT WILL BE HUGELY IMPORTANT. BECAUSE YOU WILL BE RICH.

“Well why didn’t you say that, then?”

BECAUSE… BECAUSE… BECAUSE IT JUST SOUNDS BETTER.

“Seems to me that sounding good isn’t quite as important as making sure you’re understood, don’t you think? Especially if you’re meant to be sending people on important quests.”

LOOK, DO YOU WANT TO GO OR DON’T YOU? BECAUSE WE DON’T HAVE ALL NI-

“No, thank you.”

There was a moment of stunned silence.

I BEG YOUR PARDON?

“I said no, thank you. See, I’m asleep at the moment and I don’t really know how long I’m likely to be. I can’t go on a long quest and then have to oversleep in order to finish it. Who’ll feed the pigs?”

OH, AHAHAH, I CAN SEE THE CONFUSION. NO, SEE, THE QUEST IS FOR WHEN YOU ARE AWAKE.

“Eh? How’s that work, then?”

WELL, SEE, I TELL YOU ABOUT THE TREASURE AND WHERE IT IS, AND YOU WAKE UP THINKING IT’S A DREAM ONLY I’VE LEFT A SHEAF OF WHEAT OR SOMETHING UNDER YOUR PILLOW AS A SIGN AND SO YOU GO OFF AND SEEK YOUR FORTUNE, GROWING AND MATURING ALONG THE WAY UNTIL YOU RECEIVE YOUR FINAL REWARD OF A KINGDOM AND A BEAUTIFUL WIFE AND SO ON.

“Oh, so the quest is for after I wake up?”

YES.

“I see. Well, in that case… no, thank you.”

LOOK, WILLIAM, I DON’T THINK YOU’VE GRASPED THE BASIC CONCEPT OF-

“Oh, I have, it’s just that I don’t want to do it. I simply haven’t the time.”

There was no reply; the voice seemed to be pondering this. William felt more was needed.

“Like I said, who’d feed the pigs? And the cows would need milking, and if I don’t get the field ploughed in time for sowing then I’ll be buggered. I can’t just up sticks and travel off to foreign lands seeking my fortune and battling monsters and outsmarting evil viziers. It wouldn’t be fair on the livestock, or the people who’re counting on my crops. So thank you, but if it’s all the same to you, I’ll have to decline.”

He laid the box gently on the ground.

NOW SEE HERE-

“No, I don’t think so,” William replied firmly, slapping the lid shut. The voice continued, muffled and confused.

wait, what are you doing? william?

William placed the box back into the hole and started to shovel dirt back over it.

are you serious? this is ridiculous … stop, william. william.

William didn’t stop. He filled the hole and smoothed the dirt over until the spot was indistinguishable from the rest of the field. He patted his hands clean on his trousers.

“Now then,” he thought. “Let’s give flying a try.”

And with that, William flew off into the clouds.

The next morning there was a long white feather under his pillow. He threw it away.

THE END

Advertisements
Uncategorized

My Free eBook – The Horror in the Library and Other Stories

I’ve finally done it – I’ve gone and self-published my first ebook.

It’s called The Horror in the Library and Other Stories, and it can be found over on Smashwords where it will cost you the princely sum of zero of your English pounds. That’s right, it’s completely free!

Why? Well, there’s only four stories in there – it’s a sampler, a taste of things to come, a sort of literary EP. If I can get people to read it, maybe they’ll enjoy it. And if they enjoy it, maybe they’ll want more. And if they want more, maybe I’ll be motivated to write harder to give them more.

How can you read it if you don’t have a smartphone, a Kindle or other such device! I’m glad you asked! My recommendation is to download a program like Calibre – it’s free and will let you read ebooks of all different types and formats (which means you can take advantage of the Humble Bundle book bundles more often!). I’m reliably informed that there are browser extensions that will let you read ebooks in your browser, but to be honest I’m not sure how much I trust them, so downloader beware.

I’d like to ask you all a quick favour – even if you don’t want to read the stories (which is fair enough), could you please spare a moment to spread the link to the book around a little? That way it might get in the eyes of people I don’t know, which is an absolute win as far as I’m concerned.

If you do read the stories, be sure to tell me what you think in the comments!

creativity, writing

Six Word Stories

Writing is hard. In my experience, it involves squinting hard at a screen then typing a handful of words, only to immediately delete most of them. Rinse, lather, repeat until braindeath. It’s nice when it comes easily, when you get into the flow of it, but that’s pretty rare for me.

That’s where writing exercises come in. I need to engage in these more often. They’re a way of flexing brain muscles that I’ve been letting atrophy. A drabble here, a stream of consciousness there. It doesn’t matter what I write, as long as I write.

One of my favourite exercises is the Six Word Story. The aim is to write a self-contained story that says everything it needs to say in just six words. The most famous one is attributed to Ernest Hemingway, though there’s doubt as to whether or not he actually wrote it : “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” There’s a whole story’s worth of sorrow in those six words alone.

I find it difficult to get a whole story in six words, but that’s why it’s a challenge. Here’s a few I came up with :

What goes up sometimes comes down.

I thrash, I flail, I sink.

I aim my gun. Still miss.

Since you left, I’ve been sleeping.

“Please don’t,” she said. I did.

“Please don’t.” I did it anyway.

Do Not Push? What could possibly-

No experience? No job for you.

Play it again, Sam. No? Ok.

Sad songs, empty glass. She’s gone.

Screams. Heart pounding. Crying. Baby boy.

“Look out for-!” SPLAT. “… never mind.”

My stomach hurts. Get it out.

Ate Dad. Could have tasted better.

Got super powers. Jumped. Couldn’t fly.

Dead on arrival. Why’s he moving?

Where’s the holy water? Oh shit.

I loved her. Now she’s gone.

Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Click.

Now cut the red NO WAIT

I should write. What’s on TV?

The stench of death. How lovely.

The words won’t come. Blank screen.

Plastic bottle, plastic bag, plastic flesh.

I bite down and drink deep.

The hunger burns. I eat more.

Feel free to share your own in the comments!

Uncategorized

The Twitter Fiction Project That Never Was

Just a short blog post this time, to share an idea I had a year or so ago that I wish I had the commitment and discipline to try. It’s probably been done at least once before, but it still would have been nice to try.

My idea was this – I would recruit 5 or so friends and set up Twitter accounts with them. Each of us would have a character, based in Nottingham and close enough to our own selves that it’d ring true. Those of us with actual proper Twitter accounts would introduce them as friends, and encourage their followers to connect with them. Naturally, all the fictional accounts would follow each other.

Things would proceed in a very normal, natural manner. Lunches would photographed. Movies would be live-blogged. Hashtag games would be played. Over time, a community would be built around them, a phenomenon which I’ve seen happen many times over Twitter.

This would take two years.

Two years of business as normal, with no one realising that they’re interacting with fictional characters. Until, one day, an Inciting Incident happens. Maybe one of the characters is bitten by a shambling stranger. Maybe someone checks a dusty old book out of the library and livetweets the contents. Or someone witnesses  strange lights in the sky, loses time and starts to doubt their sanity.

In short, things would get Weird.

It would spiral into chaos across the fictional accounts – and the proper accounts of those running the fakes ones. That would lend it a bit of credibility. Before you knew it, Twitter would be abuzz with talk of aliens, zombies, demons, who knows what. All because 5 or 6 supposedly real, credible accounts suddenly went consistently haywire.

It would be a small scale 30s War of the Worlds radio broadcast scenario and it would be beautiful.

There are, of course, three problems with it. Firstly, it’s a bit ethically dubious. All the interactions with real people would feel dishonest, deceitful. Is that justified by the art itself? Probably not. Secondly, I’d need to recruit a few friends and wrangle them efficiently. Which leads into the third point : I just don’t have the self-discipline for this.

A project of this scale would require more than just ambition, it would require iron will and strong focus. I’d need to stay consistent in characterisation, over a course of a year or more, interacting with as many people as possible both as myself and as a fictional character. And then to keep track of everything once the madness starts? Whew.

I might still do it. If I can find enough people to join me, and if I can convince myself I have the focus, and if I can be ok with misleading my Twitter followers a bit. Of course, if anyone actually reads this then they’ll instantly know what I’m up to when it starts, but I doubt that many of my Twitter followers read the blog!

So, there you have it. The Great Twitter Deception. If anyone thinks this is a good idea and would like to convince me to do it, I’m open to arguments! In the meantime, it’ll just stay as yet another interesting pipe dream. Along with my potential standup career and podcast.

I’m good at pipe dreams.

Uncategorized

An Exclusive Glimpse Into the Writing Process

I’ve got something very special for you all today – in today’s blog post, I’m going to throw open the windows of my mind and let you peer in at my brain. Not literally, you understand, that would be dangerous and icky. It would also involve installing a window in my head, and then I’d have to measure it for blinds, and that’s just too much like work.

Anyway.

This blog post will allow you an exclusive insight into the thought processes of that most secretive of creatures, the Writer. Marvel at the astounding leaps of logic! Quail before the mysterious power of wordcraftery! Titter behind your hand at the rampant egotism! Come one, come all, and see the marvellous Writer in action! Tickets are £3.67 payable in all of your Earth currencies or by logging into Paypal in your dreams and imagining that you’ve sent the money across to me.

And now, with no further ado, I give you… Dave Daring.

Dave Daring

It was a dark and stormy night.

Wait, what? Shit. Shit no. I can’t start it like that. That’s the sort of thing a high-schooler starts a creative writing assignment with. That’s amateur hack cliché stuff. Dark and stormy night, fuck the dark and stormy night.

But I’ve got to set the mood. I mean, it’s a horror story, right? You can’t start a horror story with ‘It was a lovely sunny day,’ can you? There are rules.

Let’s see…

A blood-curdling scream ripped through the night.

Better! Blood-curdling scream, good stuff. Ok, who’s doing the screaming?

Barbara Devonshire pounded through the woods, her huge bosom heaving with-

No.

Steve Devonshire pounded through the woods, his massive cock heaving with-

NO.

The hideous monster pounded through the woods-

Ok, let’s drop the woods. And the pounding. Rethink this whole thing.

What’s scary? In terms of settings?

Woods. Caverns. Graveyards. Haunted castles. Empty hospitals. Abandoned amusement parks.

Graveyards might be good. Screaming in a graveyard, that could be a good mood-setter.

A blood-curdling scream ripped through the night. The graveyard, normally home only to the dead, was now teeming with life – terrible, horrible life, bent on the destruction of all humankind.

Nice. Grand scope. What does the bad guy want? Nothing less than the destruction of all humankind. The stakes are high.

I hefted my shotgun and aimed it at the lead creature.

“I don’t know what you are,” I drawled, “but I know what you’re gonna be – wormfood!”

I pulled the trigger and the creature blew apart, claws and tentacles flying, drenching me in ichor.

What the hell is ichor, anyway? Man, why do people have to use such stupid words for such simple things. Slime, I’ll say slime instead.

I wiped the slime out of my eyes and gritted my teeth heroically.

“No need to go to pieces,” I said.

Wait, does that even mean anything in that context? I mean, he blew it to pieces, so it’s gone to- oh, never mind, I’m sure it’s ok.

More hideous creatures gathered around me, surrounding me and hissing. This was not good.

More mood-setting, very important stuff, got to sell the danger factor here.

They were seven foot tall and covered with razor sharp teeth, but I wasn’t scared. It was all in a day’s work for Dirk Daring

Wait, has that name been used before? I get the feeling it’s been used before, like in a videogame or something.

It was all in a day’s work for Dave Daring.

Nailed it.

I reached into my pocket and pulled out my collapsible chainsaw.

“All right, suckerheads,” I said snarlingly, “prepare to meet your maker!”

“They already have – me!” cried a mysterious voice from behind a nearby gravestone.

MYSTERY! Always add a surprise villain.

“What?” I cried with shock. From behind the gravestone stepped my arch enemy, the evil Doctor Medical.

“It is I, Doctor Medical!” said Doctor Medical. “You have fallen into my trap for the last time, Dave Daring!”

“I think not, Doctor Medical,” I said, starting my chainsaw. I whirled it around my head and lopped off several monsters’ tentacles and arms. They howled with pain and the floor became slippery with blood. I killed many more monsters but more kept coming, and my arms were tired from swinging the chainsaw. I was doomed.

Oh shit, I’ve written myself into a corner. How the hell is he going to get out of this one? Think think think think AHA

I threw my chainsaw to the floor.

“Alright, Doctor Medical, you have what you want. Come and get me.”

“I thought you’d never ask,” he cried, gathering me up into his arms for a passionate kiss. The monsters all clapped their hands and tentacles. Doctor Medical and I were married the next day, and we moved into the graveyard to live happily ever after with our family of monsters.

I’m the best fucking novelist since Ernest Hemmingway.

Uncategorized

Letting Go

chimney swift by Ed Schipul

I have trouble letting go.

I have trouble letting go of preconceptions, of prejudices, of anger, of self-pity. I have trouble letting go of a lot of things.

Most of all, I have trouble letting go of my writing. I’m fiercely protective of it, knowing that if I spend more time on it I can polish it up and make it shine and sing and dance and do all the things that you expect a really dazzling piece of work to do. This is ultimately quite damaging, as the more I look at it the more flaws I spot and the more I resent it. Then I’m likely to never let it out into the real world.

I’m getting better, though. I’ve published a couple of short literary doodles on this very blog, and have managed to have enough scripts prised from my hands that we have a nice backlog of short films now. But still the temptation is there, the temptation to hoard and my work and clutch it to my chest and hiss ‘mine!’ at anyone who thinks I should actually do something with it.

This is a roundabout way of saying that I’ve just submitted 3 scripts to the Create50 The Impact competition. Are they perfect? No, and I have to be ok with that. Are they the best I can do at this moment in time? Yes, and that’s important to me. If I’d held onto them and tried to polish them, I’d have ended losing faith and never submitting them before the deadline. And not submitting anything at all would have been a crime. Nothing ventured, nothing something something etc etc, right?

So, with the help of a couple of beta readers (to whom I’m supremely grateful), I have finished the scripts to the best of my ability and sent them out, releasing them into the big wide world to fend for themselves. Will they soar above the heads of their peers? Will they stand out from the flock? Will they be torn to shreds or sucked into a plane engine? Will this extended metaphor never end? Who knows. Who knows.

Check out all the scripts (not just mine)(but do please read mine) over at the Create50 website. I think you’ll agree this project is shaping up to be a very interesting one indeed.

Stay tuned for the sound of your fingers tapping away rapidly at your keyboard as you write a comment on this post.

Picture: Chimney Swift by Ed Schipul, CC BY-SA 2.0

 

Uncategorized

Create 50 : The Impact

Falling Asteroids

Those of you who know me well may remember that I entered the 50 Kisses competition a couple of years ago. This was a fantastic idea – 50 scripts, 50 shorts, 1 feature film. It was also a great opportunity, a chance to get my work read and potentially noticed. I wrote Geek Love, which is now a short film trilogy that has been screened at the Derby Quad cinema.

This happened because, of course, I didn’t make it through to the final 50 in the competition. But I was longlisted, which gave me a lovely warm gooey feeling inside. I was also asked to write a blog post about my experience and what it meant to me.

So you can imagine my excitement when I saw that there’s a new competition – The Impact : same portmanteau format, now with an exciting scifi-tinged premise. There is a colossal asteroid heading for Earth, and there’s nothing we can do to stop it. The short films that make up the feature will chronicle mankind’s final minutes before its inevitable extinction.

The aim of the competition is to shoot for substance and emotion rather than spectacle and effects, which is just as well because you only have 2 pages to tell a self-contained story about staring oblivion in the face. It’s going to be tricky, but what’s writing without a challenge?

My aim is to submit 3 scripts for consideration. The reasoning behind this is that I’d quite like to to try my hand at different styles for it. I’ve today finished the first draft of the first one, a Geek-Love-esque vignette that will hopefully bring a smile to a few faces. With the other two I’m aiming for darker territory. I’ve not quite cemented the ideas, but I’m working on it. I’ve had a couple of thoughts, but they were exactly what you’d think they would be, so they’re on the back-burner. Cliché is all very well and good, but only if you can do something interesting with it.

I’ve got a good feeling about this competition. Not necessarily an I’m-going-to-win good feeling, just a vague sense of impending accomplishment and fulfilment. And who doesn’t like accomplishment and fulfilment?

Stick around, more news on this as it comes.

Picture: Falling Asteroids by Robert Davies, CC-BY-NC 2.0

Uncategorized

Updates

A very quick post to let everyone know I’ve updated the site a little – I’ve added a section for my films, a section for my short stories and a section for my non-fiction.

I’ve only updated the films page so far, but I intend to use these pages as a portfolio, a way of showcasing a selection of my work. It’s by no means meant to be a comprehensive collection of everything I’ve ever done in the history of ever – it’s just a selection of works I’m proud of.

Those familiar with the short films I’ve made will be pleased to see the links and the scripts to many that I’ve already unleashed on you – but please be sure to check out The Tree, A Done Deal, Innocence and Snapshots – these are scripts I have written which have not (yet) been filmed. Let me know what you think!

Speaking of letting me know what you think – suggestions, comments, demands and thinly-veiled-threats-against-my-wellbeing-should-I-stop-writing are all gratefully accepted – let me know in the comments and all will be addressed!

Uncategorized

For The Times They Are a-Changin’

Earlier today, I finished a draft of a short script that’s been in my head for a while now. As I returned to the living room from my newly-installed writing cave, my wife Tonks (still an odd phrase to get used to, even after a year and a half) asked me an important question.

She said “Sam, how many finished scripts do you have now?”

I did a quick tally, thinking that I’d get about 5 or 6.  I was shocked to realise that I’ve now finished something like 15 short scripts, counting ones I’ve co-written. Some of them have even been made. Two of them were polished in a professional screenwriting course. One was longlisted in the 50 Kisses screenplay competition. All of them are works to be proud of (though the perfectionist in me insists that they’re far from excellent).

I haven’t yet finished the feature-length screenplay I was working on last month, but I have about 15 shorts under my belt. I haven’t counted the number of short stories I’ve finished (they’re far outweighed by the number I’ve abandoned), but I have a short story that’s due to be published in an anthology by grass-roots Steampunk publishing company The Last Line, so soon I’ll have had my writing unleashed on an unsuspecting public in more ways than one.

The time is right. I need… A Change.

It is with a heavy heart that I bid farewell to Blogger, where I intended to write many dazzling and witty blog posts. Instead I leave a layer of cyberdust 3 inches deep and a hamfisted attempt at journal blogging. I’ve never been good at journal blogging. My day to day activities just aren’t interesting enough for journal blogging. I wake up, I go to work, I try to write, I play video games. for much of the time, that’s it for me.

Well, no more.

I have a writing cave. I have 15 or more finished scripts. I have a wife who is more than happy to crack the whip if I get sedentary. And I have a need to get my work out there. Because there’s no point in writing a script if only a handful of people will ever see the finished film. Don’t get me wrong, I love my friends and I’m overwhelmed by the support they show when I put out a new film or story… but I need to get bigger. I need to get Out There. I need to succeed. Because I’m not going to be in the rat race forever.

That’s why I’ve created this WordPress blog. That’s why I now own http://www.samkurd.co.uk and am in the process of trying to get that address to point to this blog. That’s why I’m going to revisit my stories and get editing. And that’s why I’m going to try and get off my backside and sell a story. That’s why I’m going to work hard at this. I’m cutting back on the video games (although when payday comes around Life is Strange part 3 is coming my way because WOW that game is amazing). I’m cutting back on the mindless net surfing. I’m cutting back on Tumblr… er, well… let’s not go overboard.

From now, I’ll be blogging every other day. If I don’t have anything to say, I’ll make it up. I’m a writer, after all. All writing is good writing because just the mere act of stringing words together helps me grow as a writer. I can’t let my creative muscles atrophy, or I might as well just put my head down and plod through my life.

It’ll take years. I’m not an idiot. I’m not going to succeed overnight. But I’ve already started on the journey. I started on the journey the day I signed up for the screenwriting class. I started on the journey the day my friend James approached me and said ‘That short story “Jeremy” you wrote, I’d like to make it into a film…’. I started on the journey the day I opened a deviantart account and started posting my literary doodles there. I started on the journey the day I first stroked a keyboard, the day I first picked up a pen.

I start the journey over and over, a hundred different times, each time better armed and better prepared. And this time might not be the time that I don’t give up. It might not be the time that I get my name out and finally start writing professionally. It might not be the time when I find myself looking back and thinking ‘bloody hell, I’ve made it.’

But that’s ok. Because that time is coming. Mark my words. That time is coming.

Stay tuned for tweaks to the site format, frenzied attempts to get the everything about the blog just right and the customary panic and self-doubt that precedes two months of inactivity.