Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Labyrinth Project Creators Journal - Richard Alan Scott (New Entry 08/24/21)



Author: Richard Alan Scott
Rhode Island, USA


08/24/21

I've reached a point in my career where I feel it's of no use being closely guarded and always playing my cards close to my chest. We all have our ideas of what can be done with our writing and what avenues we want to pursue in getting it published. I think it's mainly because of my theatrical back ground and that I've had a taste of playing in the "big Leagues" of professional theater, that I am smitten with very large ambition when it comes to my efforts.

I want to see my work accepted in the larger, public arena, and I want, first and foremost, to get as many eyes on my product as is humanly possible. I have come to see the value in certain Independent Publishers and what they can accomplish for their writers, but I remain a staunch believer in "The Big Four" New York and worldwide publishers being able to get me the widest audience and the lesser chance of my efforts becoming "buried." That is my greatest fear, the anonymity of being one of the "buried," what my secret mentor David Lynch calls "dying the death."

To that end I continue with Agent queries and will not stop until I feel I've gone through the world's supply of literary representation. This will be my calling for the foreseeable future. Many folks in my past writing groups have used the word "ambitious" for my goals, for my writing, and even for my individual short stories. When I get an idea, I want nothing less than to execute that idea in a definitive way. I want it to be one of the stories on that topic or character that made someone say "that is the best story I ever read about _______." I want there to be no doubt that that story or book could be pursued as a movie
or television episode. This is who I have been since about twelve years old. I often take big bites out of life, and want it to be all I could grasp for.

Commercial, I think, is a good word for what I go after. That's why often; a slice of life tale with a very subtle twist into the ether of the weird is not enough for me. A story which projects its dénouement then just plays it out is not enough for me. A story that never seems to go past a premise is not enough for me. I want beginnings, middles and ends. Ends that can be ambiguous but not cryptic. Ends that leave me satisfied as I exit the theater of my mind.

Thrice, with Poe, Stoker and Lovecraft, I have undertaken to write a story from those very gentlemen's POV. I did not attempt to exactly imitate every cadence and nuance of the writers' speech. Instead I fabricated an individual that would come from their time period and did deep research to use some of their very quotations in formulating the character. One such story was "The Aftertaste" which was included in an anthology nearly immediately. That is a ghost story which has the man who was buried behind a wall in "The Cask of Amontillado," Fortunato, haunting a young family that has taken up residence in that Palazzo of Montresor.

Being new to writing, I made the dreadful blunder of a painful anachronism in my attempt at the definitive follow up to Poe's tale. I made a reference to a Wild West Character that surely would not have become common knowledge until the end of Poe's life. I have fixed that fatal flaw in my newest draft of the story that is still being submitted to Ghost collections everywhere.

There is no way of measuring the ambitions of my fellow writers except by the decisions they make in submitting their work. I do support them in whatever choice they make. As I say, I need to be faced with editors who may not know me; the gatekeepers if you will of the professional literary arena. Were I to break their ranks, I would be reasonably assured that I am doing something right.

The Providence, Rhode Island Cemetery where both Lovecraft and Poe strolled: St. John's Episcopal.






08/08/21

This journal is about a romantic notion that I know most men go through in their lives, perhaps multiple times, as I did. The more I thought about it the more I came to the conclusion that maybe all human beings go through it. Perhaps you've had a higher level job for awhile, and you are sick of the red tape and office politics that go along with it. Or maybe you just want to earn good money and lose yourself for a year or so, to forget, or to have some time in solitary. Four times in my life I made this change when I just could no longer put up with the bullshit.

I'm talking about applying to some company or plant where you are expected to just do the physical work required, keep your mouth shut, and rack up the hours for mucho overtime. In a year, a person living at their parents' home or on a tight budget can pretty much save enough of a nest egg to go anywhere in the world that they want afterward.
My first venture into the silent majority work force was in a couple of Rhode Island jewelry plants, where I was the sole Shipper/Receiver, responsible for a tidy loading dock, loading and unloading tractor trailers or panel trucks, and keeping track of the paperwork for the purchase orders and a daily log.

These jobs kept you on your toes from 7am to 3pm and the days would fly by. I would receive my next week's pay faster than I could spend it. I would be in the best shape of my life and building up some pretty great muscles for sure. In my Dad's day, people would work a full first shift then get a job at a second mill for the 3:30 to 11pm shift. All of my older brothers went through these periods; in our home city of Woonsocket RI, that was what you did when you left high school, started earning. We are descendants of a century and a half of mill rats, mostly of the French-Canadian variety.

My just-older brother Al was the first college student in our tribe, and I was second. I know that he did his year of toil to be able to start in college, at a gruesome sweat shop for Uniroyal, called "The Rubber Shop," where my mother-in-law worked for nearly thirty years before becoming a nurse in her forties. Al had to move these heavy racks of rubbers and boots from one trolley to another, thus making him definitely the bicep King for a while, but still perplexed by my whiffle-ball sinker.

Incredibly, I still would get this romantic feeling for hard labor into MY forties. I went to a plant in the aught years of this century, shuffling hard to fill boxes with orders for convenience stores all over New England from 3 to 11. I am the literature and movie nut, and things like "Five Easy Pieces" are films that sent me on this path. You live like a commando monk for a year and see where you're at the end of it, before jumping back to having a job where you swear and drink less and have to be nice. I mean I knew people who I worked with all day long who barely grunted at me, and that was fine. If you wanted to talk, you'd get behind, period. 

During that job I wrote my Science Fiction story, "Tuesday Night's Pick." While filling my orders, boxing them up and setting them on a nearby conveyor track, I worked alone and incapable of seeing another human being, due to the high walls of stacked palettes full of product that engulfed me. I got the idea that what if I went to the break room and found everyone in the plant was gone? It set me on an alien invasion tale, with the protagonist using the layout and tools of the plant to attempt to distract the invaders while he escaped. This story had already been published in the same Penny Dreadful as my Banshee story, but unfortunately with that unscrupulous British publisher who disappeared. But I keep submitting, and there's always your first collection, hahaha. Below is the working man "me," with sort of a Chris Pratt thing going on, lol. 

Let Bruce Springsteen explain things to you.





07/18/21

Just one further strain of the discussion I was having about the death of my mother when I was fifteen, and the piece I wrote about it in an early writing group, the RI Writer's Circle. We had to do a piece of non-fiction that would read like a short story, if my memory serves. Our very kind teacher was now a man named David Howard, and I turned in the short narrative, "Anna's Lost Little Boy."

This was about 2007-8 I believe, and a show had aired on PBS back in 2004 that greatly influenced me, so much so that is was still very close to my mind when that assignment was put forth. The program was entitled "The Question of God" and was part-documentary, part panel discussion by a team made up of noteworthy atheist and faith-based scholars. In analyzing man's need for and belief in God, they turned to two prominent figures that were opposites in their spiritual growth; Sigmund Freud, the psychoanalyst, who had began raised as a practicing Jew but become an atheist and scientific rationalist later in life, and C.S. Lewis, the scholar and writer, who was a affirmed atheist in his youth that converted to a vocal supporter of faith-with-reason. 

Ironically, when this show aired initially, and when I wrote the Anna story, I was in the Lewis camp of the panel, but have since joined the Freudian atheist camp.

My initial attraction to the show is well told in this clip from that writing exercise: 

I was really nailed to the wall as I watched a documentary on the late British author C.S. Lewis.  He had lost his mother at age eleven. I felt like I was hearing the most apt description yet of my experience in the musings of an adult Lewis: “With my mother’s death all settled happiness, all that was tranquil and reliable, disappeared from my life.  And there has never been really any sense of security and snugness since.  I’ve not quite succeeded in growing up on that point. There is still too much of mommy’s lost little boy about me.”

Thus the title of my piece. I'm sure many may be curious as to how a person might make such a leap of, shall we say, 'lack of faith," and for that I want to give you this exclusive peek into my second novel, a literary fictional memoir, MORE THAN THIS, which is still up for grabs. The main character Nick Sullivan echoes my own experience as he writes:

I can only relate it to the day when I was about eight or nine when Aloysius laid it on me that there was no such person as Santa Claus, and that it had been my parents all along. All of the little clues that had never made sense now did, all of the sneaking around and all of the blockading of a certain closet near the holidays. All the noises and near-misses, and the bags under my Fathers' eyes when an assembled bicycle had been my big present. He also told me the same went for The Easter Bunny and for the Tooth Fairy. And the revelation had not been worrisome to me, exactly the opposite, that no more would my poor folks have to keep up this lunatic facade that they had done for four little boys. They must have been so tired and so relieved of those colossal duties of espionage after that. And I was relived too. Maybe I was always a child who yearned for reality and could never get it, but the sparring between my imagination and my intellect could never quite take the responsibility of keeping in good stead with the Old Fart at the North Pole. Him with his fucking reindeer and elf slaves in the Age of Aquarius.

It was exactly like that. 

On the spot I realized that God, the afterlife, the angels, the Devil and all of it had never been, and never would be. It was all a tale, a tale we told each other to try to keep ourselves in line, made up rules and rituals that had no more meaning than throwing a pinch of salt over your shoulder. The Monty Python phrase "playing at silly buggers" came to mind with regard to the popes and the bishops and the priests and the rabbis and the imams, strutting around in their Halloween costumes claiming some kind of higher state than the rest of us, some kind of enlightened esoteric knowledge that in fact we all had the capacity to understand and put into practice.

I got angry at the fraud that had been perpetrated on mankind for centuries, and people were still into keeping alive. I just couldn't fathom it. The lies, the hypocrisy, the self-righteousness. All of it was too much to bear. I easily realized I couldn't blame my parents, under-educated people who were fed the same indoctrination in their young lives. No, I knew that they believed it was best for me. And though I was never physically harmed or molested as so many other poor brothers and sisters were, when I thought of all the internal suffering I had put myself through in my life, how vexed I was with nervousness and anxiety, wishing to always do the right thing but seeming incapable of fully doing so, I was devastated to say the least. All the times I had been led to believe how much of a sinner and a bad person I was for various venial acts, and all the time I put in on self-loathing for any of the mortal ones I'd taken part in, what was all that meant to prove? All the years I spent holding on to those medieval values when everyone in my family and friends had absconded. Wow, what a joke on me it had been.

It goes to show that, for at least a few decades, I had struggled with life's mysteries. It has actually been since childhood. To those to whom this entry may be news, I am sorry if I caught you off guard.



06/26/21

I opened the story "Anna's Lost Little Boy" with another incident of my prolific dreaming. I had been napping out on the living room couch. I was dreaming of being buried alive, and I was screaming out for help. I did experience that sleeper's paralysis they talk about. I could not move my arms or legs because I was trapped in a box. I have always, and still do, have very active dreams where I am struggling and calling out gibberish.

My daughter, in her room, was a tween at the time. There was no way she was going down the hall toward the creepy moaning thing pretending to be her Dad. My wife could sleep through a nuclear explosion, so I was screwed. We didn't have my dog Max who now jumps on my bed and licks my face to wake me if I am having a nightmare or a bad apnea episode.

Suddenly an older woman was above me and took my hands. "It's all right Dicky, wake up. Wake up now." I woke with my hands in the position where she was holding them up. I shook it off and went down to bed. A few moments later, my wife did stir, and asked me, "What's wrong?" I was crying involuntarily with wracking sobs.

"I think my Mother just woke me up." 

Of course Anna, Ann Margaret Griffin Scott, had been dead for thirty years. Her family and friends called her Anna when she was a child, and being that those people were all still in her life, they all still did. She was born in 1918. Can you imagine? My mother would have been 100 years old in 2018. I am in my early sixties and still semi-vital, lol. What a span of American history this family has lived through. She had me in 1956 when she was forty, I was an afterthought. They thought they were done with kids but, you know those Catholics, not a condom in sight. My oldest brother had come along when THEY were kids, in 1939.

She loved movies and TV and music and reading, and she could be colorful in language, and disciplined, but there was also a streak that let her get totally loony and silly to make the kids laugh. All of the above I got from her. I am one silly bugger. She was my best friend and confidant throughout my childhood. I could tell her anything, even when I started to like girls and all those machinations, she was well informed who I liked and what my plans were, hahaha. When she died in 1972 I was left adrift and empty. My Dad really stepped up. There had always been a lot of drinking going on in my family, like in that show Mare of Easttown with Kate Winslet that was just on. Dad resolved to stop hanging at the bars and work less to be home for me. I was fifteen. I was very fortunate in the way that things went down after, because it could have gone in an entirely different direction for me. I talk of this transition a lot in my fictional memoir coming to a publisher near you, as soon as I find one, "More Than This."

By the time my Anna story hit that first writing group, we had a new monitor, a gently quiet and affable man. That elderly woman playwright that ran the organization had to leave the group for her own health reasons, which I believe was a form of cancer. She called me to her office one day, where she did the family psychology sessions. Her out-of-left-field proposal to me:

"I really like this "Anna" story and would like to edit it for you. I would like to shepherd the story personally." Now as I said, in this group I was about 52, not 25, and I had seen all manner of supposedly "qualified" individuals in the arts. Also, she seemed a bit daft to me. But the following sealed my opinion-

"Many people are into the afterlife and these visitations and signs from beyond. I want you to take your story and fill it out. Tell many more of these paranormal type incidents about your Mother, EVEN IF YOU HAVE TO MAKE THEM UP!" 

Now as I said, this was a non-fiction piece and I have always felt it very important to stick to the truth, as close as is possible to my truth, in any anecdote or writing. These were days long before our previous President's "make up your own facts" style, so perhaps this lady was already on the cusp of the far future. Or maybe, being gravely ill, she wanted affirmation about where she may be headed.

I didn't say anything about my decision then and there, but I passed on her mentorship, lol.

Next time we reach out to Sigmund Freud, C.S. Lewis, and me for more answers.






06/11/21

About thirteen years ago I was involved in my very first adult Writers' group. It was a statewide program that was run out of a psychologist's office where she did Family Counseling. She also happened to be the President of said Writers' group, which advertised her as a well-known and successful playwright. Now I had been in the theater, including professionally, for thirty years before I began writing as a profession, and certainly I had never heard of her. Later Bios did show that her work was performed by a very obscure acting company that I had also, despite decades working in my home state's top companies, never heard of. But of course we know how that goes. One did have to submit some writing and be accepted into the group, so why not? Could be legit.

So I got in, had the aforementioned woman in my first writing "class," and I was ready to participate. One of our assignments had to do with creating a piece of non-fiction which could read as a short story. There was a giant issue in my life that I was certain I'd have enough material about to cover the assignment, and that was the death of my mother when I was fifteen. Many lose their parents but not often so young, and I had a thought swirling in my brain that that event had informed the way I dealt with life afterward.

At this point I was 51 and I had not gone through my own near-death health experiences, nor had I given up on Catholicism. I have gone through a bit of losing my Mom (and a story about a witch telling me I'd hear on my Birthday, the decision on a story I had submitted in Ireland, which did occur), in earlier of these journals, so please scroll down for those discussions. But as I wrote this non-fiction story, entitled "Anna's Lost Little Boy" I had a backlog of a whole slew of weird stories surrounding my mother being in the afterlife. These were the days when I still believed there was an afterlife and that yes, people were constantly trying to communicate with us from there. Sort of an unseen Facebook.

The cross that had been displayed on my mother's open casket was given to me after her funeral. Me, the kid who would watch something like The Wolfman late at night and believe Talbot was making his way to my neighborhood. I was the last person anyone in their right mind should give this cross to, but who's gonna argue with their Pastor? So one day, in a spiritual mood, I hung the cross over my bed's headboard on the wall. That night, my Dad had to wake me from screaming nightmares, where I saw my Mom in her coffin all deteriorated and maggot-ridden, saying, "Dicky help me, help meee!" Okay, down comes the cross. A few months later, "Oh, I just had a bad dream, I shouldn't be so foolish," and up goes the cross again.

That night I'm dreaming of a snowstorm going on and we were sent home from school early. I walked the three or four blocks to and from school, so I'm walking on the street adjacent to mine, silent in the snow, nearly home. I see my across-the-street neighbor's van parked by the roadside. I think, "Huh, why didn't Kenny and Pat put their van in their yard? I guess it broke down in the storm." It was a very distinct van, you could never mistake it. It was purple with big sixties balloon letters proclaiming "NEMESIS" on the side, and the requisite wheel flames, etc. Kenny was a drummer in a rock group. He used to practice loud to a Blood, Sweat and Tears album in the afternoon. I loved it but my parents did not. Anyway, I get home and my mother opens the door. She looks like herself, not a zombie, and she says "I made chicken noodle soup." Nice dream, right? I wake up, all cozy. "See, the cross is fine."

I go downstairs and my Dad looks all solemn. "The neighbors got into a big crash with their van. Kenny has a broken leg but Pat is fighting for life, and will need reconstructive surgery." Oh, shit, that's why I saw the van out of place, Ma was telling me something. Cross down, Pat made it through.

Next time more messages from beyond and the weirdest writing feedback I ever got, when Anna's Lost Little Boy continues.





05/28/21

The movie Locke with Tom Hardy is a good example of what I initially wanted to achieve with my story that is now entitled "Peeling Down the Layers." During a man's commute home from work, we become privy to a whole litany of ills that are occurring in his life, through his thoughts. He has been having an affair, embezzling from his employer, and realizes that it is all closing in on him.

Funny how a piece of writing can blossom and move outside of the boundaries you had previously set in your head. I think every writer can appreciate that feeling of being "in the zone" much like an athlete or performer. Suddenly your fingers move swiftly over the typewriter keys and you have not noticed that two hours and a half hours have gone by. The words just seem to fly out of your head and your voice for the piece is so firmly ingrained in your mind that you feel like "I can do this all night."

"Layers" grew outside its parameters, when it was called ATONEMENT. I was never happy that the title was already in use by Ian McEwan and of course the subsequent moviefilm. Things got a great deal more literal as I pantsed it, a term writers use for working from the seat of your pants and letting a story evolve on its own rather than sticking to a strict outline. Before long a catastrophic event happened while the protagonist, Carl, drove home, of which he saw evidence but was not fully aware. Next, the hierarchy of Hell itself started manifesting here in our world. I seemed to remember from my Dante's Inferno that Hell had been divided into 9 layers like a big birthday cake.

The cool thing Dante did of course was to identify these strata of Hell and group them into the various sins that the souls remanded there had committed. These roughly follow the Seven Deadly Sins with a couple more thrown in for good measure, at least that's my interpretation. This fascinates me to no end, especially with how the punishment fits the crime in a lot of these instances. Sodomists for instance may be corn-holed by hugely equipped demons for all eternity, while those who, like the Trump family, sling gallons of shit their whole life may end up buried upside down in said waste product forever and ever.

Or would our former president join his colleague Richard Nixon playing the big room for all eternity, with a giant, Ray Harryhausen-created Satan constantly performing a cycle of gnawing on their bodies then regurgitating them, over and over. One can only hope. This led me into using a map of the town I reside in as the Hellscape Carl now attempts to get home through, though what he thinks awaits him there may no longer be the case. Lickety-split and before you know it, Carl was no longer a businessman but a player in the cutthroat politics of being a University Professor, one teaching the very subject of Comparative Theology that he winds up enmeshed in.

In early drafts of the story, I could never get the tone right between the reality of stress that comes with teaching and commuting and the fantasy elements that become all too real for Carl. Of course it has collected its weight in rejections over the years, but in this case, and in this case only, I feel they are right, hahaha. I have not found that right balance to the tale and I am working ever so hard to nail it now that I have a lot of material under my belt. Or maybe it's the hideous pet disembowelment that occurs in Act Two?  Who knows, but I keep working at it, and someday it will be out there!





05/08/21

Right after I wrote my Salem witch story I had an idea that was eating at me. I wanted to do a theme about a guy's commute home and how the stuff that goes through his mind on this ride exposes a whole bunch that is wrong with his life; he's been cheating on his wife and also embezzling from the business he works for. It was based on the idea, to me especially, of what a living hell a long work commute can be. I can't stand any situation where I become just another of the huddled masses stuck in the bureaucracy of everyday life, things like traffic, the DMV, a mobbed concert or sporting event, Black Friday, etc.

That's why, Dracula-like, I rarely venture out in daytime. I like the road to myself, and if I can't do something at night, I will use any and all back roads available to me to avoid interacting with people. When you intersect with people, trouble follows, like car accidents and road rage and parking space jealousy, etc. This tale, which I have alternately called Atonement and A Time of Atonement, holds the record for my longest-gestating story. Started in 2006, it is now called Peeling Down the Layers and I am STILL WRITING IT.

Top that! The story kept growing and evolving. First off, I am obsessed with human sexuality. I'd have been a good staff member for Dr. Kinsey back in the fifties. I like to read about the utmost intimacy that goes on behind closed doors. Not the mechanical "going through the motions" of pornography, but the innermost workings of people's biggest sex organ, the brain. What goes through their mind, how do they build themselves up, who makes the first move, what do they like, not like, are they free to explore, are they restrained in their lovemaking (not the handcuff kind)?  What's it like after the dazzle wears off, who gets bored first, who's still "in love," what's the pillow talk. I could go on and on.

I guess I'm just explaining why so many of my protagonists are cheaters; I just find it so much more interesting than people happy in their relationships or people that are both free and clear to be together. There has to be a reason that there's conflict, lol. And nothing's more exciting than the unexpected, particularly when someone is used to just going along like a robot not ever thinking that anything could happen to them. Also, I've been told I write great sex scenes, hahaha.

When my Mom passed away when I was fifteen, I didn't realize it at the time, but there was a huge hole in my life as far as attention and physical affection from a woman. Because I immediately combated my loneliness by trying to date any female that moved or talked. I outline this in my second novel, which is literary fiction, but I had a very successful method in getting dates, though I was no football star. Anyway, I have always liked girls throughout my life. I never went through the thing as a kid of hating girls. Each year of Elementary School, I had a different girlfriend, which basically consisted of holding hands on the way to music or recess or square dancing (yes we had to do that)  
or other "stuff."  I could name them but it would mean nothing to you all, lol.

I even remember having a dream that everyone at school was naked BEFORE I KNEW WHAT GIRLS HAD DOWN THERE. The little girls' things looked like mine and the women teachers' naughty bits looked like my father's, all hairy. (Which I saw when Dad and I had to take showers at the beach).

Next time, more on the story that's never finished, and less about my proclivities. 




04/23/21

I'm sorry that once in a great while this journal's entry may be a bummer, but I wouldn't be a writer and I wouldn't be a realist if I didn't tackle the huge elephant sitting on my chest. We've spoken of the ever-present specter of rejection, both jokingly and honestly, but there are other aspects of this vocation which weigh heavily and can take their toll by cutting off one's spirit of artistic adventure; this toll can drag one down for hours, days, weeks, months, or even years.

Editors and agents are people too. They do their best to remain true to their standards and goals for themselves, their authors, and their public. They have certain needs that are well defined, and yet they also have their own definitions of wiggle room to be open to ideas that may come from out of the blue. It is pretty obvious that on the day that a writer's skill and imagination intersect in perfect alignment with said Editor or Agent's desires, writing efforts will be accepted and magic can begin to transpire.

[From day one in my theater career of over thirty years, I had the proper attitude that one requires for performing hundreds of acting auditions. I was always that person who prepared thoroughly so that I may not be nervous on the day. From High School and up through pro audition calls I sat calmly or found a quiet space to review my lines or monologue while I watched others absolutely climb the walls with anxiety. It doesn't help being around all that noise but you have to learn to tune them out. A few others would comport themselves just as I did, but a common reaction among the other contestants was to begin a sort of community talk or blab session, where they would theorize on rumors of exactly what the casting people were looking for and what the process and outcomes would be. None of that ever changed anything, so I never took part. Seriously. No one except the sign-in sheet would know I was there or had come and gone. It was what happened in the room that mattered and what final decisions would be made that counted and nothing could change that. My motto was, and is, "if they want ya, they want ya."]

It's the same with writing. The submission/rejection part is well understood by yours truly. The part that gets dicey is longevity. When it turns into years and years and you are not intersecting with the needs and goals of the gatekeepers, your thoughts of what a "career" means have to shift. In theater and commercials/films I had a better batting average than now in literature. I did get work regularly and I did make top dollar, but often it was not enough to sustain one's family and lifestyle, so I had to seek other means of financial stability. The same has been true with writing, but money has to take a back seat to a lot of other considerations here. By following submission or query guidelines, taking rejection with silence and grace, and believing that you are doing it right and continuing, continuing always in the face of defeat, and being ready when opportunity knocks, that will be what makes the measure of one's "career," I truly believe.

Then comes the rub that plagues the greater majority of my peers, "Do the gatekeepers know what they're doing? Does their agenda coincide with what you are all about; what you are trying to achieve?' So many don't think so, that we have the explosion of self-publishing, the "just put it in Amazon" craze, and the struggle of countless Independent Publishers. I am thrilled by the rise of the "woke" culture in my heart, but it presents challenges to me in receiving acceptances in many circumstances. A large segment of the gatekeepers are not seeking my writing at present. I persevere because I do believe it to be vastly humanist and relatable by all. I have a dream of reaching all readers of every scope in this world, especially those who continue reading in adulthood but may not live by the most advantageous means. Some poor bastard of any color or gender trodding off to the same soul-sucking job for years would a good litmus of who I'd be honored to entertain for a few minutes a day.

The people in charge of getting my work to those I want to reach are in most cases even more cut off from the level of said readers than I am. They are largely folks who live in a more upper-class bubble of cosmopolitan privilege whom I'm certain many writers feel  can't pull their heads out of their asses long enough to recognize something popular if it bit them on the aforementioned asses. I am a believer that, like all generalizations, though having a basis in truth, this cannot be 100% valid, ever. There is someone out there who is going to "get me," and get me in a big way, and then the sky will be the limit.

I love David Lynch, the mind-bending film director, as an artist and a person. There is a YouTube video where he is answering questions at a college, and gives his advice to all manner of artists. "Find your own voice, don't take no for an answer, and always have final cut. It's absurd that an artist wouldn't have final cut. This is what's so sick about, you know, this world. If they give you money, they should believe in you and support you and help you, but let you make your story or film or your painting or whatever it is."

In the Ken Burns documentary on Hemingway, listening to people talk about his novel, "The Old Man and the Sea" got me sad, but not for the usual reasons. In the novel, an old Cuban fisherman, Santiago, lands a giant marlin and must haul it back to shore with his small skiff. His struggle to take the big fish becomes a metaphor for his last gasp of mortality, something he must prove to himself. But as the catch is transported to land, ravenous sharks nibble away at his prize until its remains are not much to speak of.

Nobel Literature Prize Winner Mario Vargas Llosa was one of the talking heads on the show, and he said that people see the novel differently at different ages: that the young like the adventure and derring-do of the skill and struggle, while the old see themselves facing their last accomplishments in this world. This time I had a much different reaction than in my high school years to the tale. I strongly feel that I do have a voice that comes through in my novels and stories, and when I am finished and satisfied with a work, I believe I have accomplished what I set out to do and get excited, as I feel I have landed a "big one" that I imagine all people who read it can enjoy. As the work goes through beta readers and editors, and their sensibilities nibble at the "ME" who is present in the work, they help to fix a great many problems that exist, but they also have their takes of what should go, what should be cut. I'm left feeling that if I take all the advice I'll be left with a work of art by committee, and not much of "ME" will be left, if indeed I ever get the chance to have a gatekeeper accept it in the first place. That is the part of all this work and hustle that makes me the most depressed.




04/08/21

The thoughts I'm simmering and wrestling with tonight could happen after reading or viewing any biography, but I just happened to catch Ken Burns' 5-1/2 hour Documentary on Ernest Hemingway the past few nights, on PBS. We all know the celebrated writer of the Twentieth Century who revolutionized the form and lived as a larger than life caricature of himself, the lord of machismo; hunting, fishing, fighting wars and barroom loudmouths when he wasn't marrying the newest young correspondent to pique his attention.

As with any person successful in one's vocation, it is hard not to compare and challenge oneself, but some of the things I share with him surprised me, as I previously had only a passing knowledge of his writing. We both use short, choppy sentences and go for an economy of words. We both hope to be accepted by the high brow but mainly also wish to reach the low brow. (He said he aimed for readability by anyone with a high school education). We both had harsh Fathers, though he despised his Mom and I adored mine.

As I've grown older and am unsure how much time I have ahead of me, I do find it astonishing that I was able to overcome thought patterns I see in others I admire. Not to boast or think I am stronger than the individual, but I've come to certain conclusions I work very hard to maintain. I have largely been able to change reoccurring and nearly obsessive behaviors that are undoubtedly destructive to me, especially concerning eating and drinking, and raising hell. Yes I've had to adapt a more austere and modest lifestyle and avoid the habits that can bring forth the beast in me. I've had to adapt a more disciplined economy of stress, drama, and wasted movement that had caused numerous bad days in my past.

This includes ways of mind as well as body. I've managed to keep my loving relationship for nearly fifty years without too much altering of who I basically am. I have managed to keep depression, what Hemingway called "the black ass" away through greater control over my negative thoughts. Churchill called it "the black dog" and I can't help but be moved by the song from singer/ guitarist/ songwriter Nick Drake, dead at 21 in 1971 from an overdose ♫ Old black dog he called at my door, old black dog he called for more, an old black dog he knew my name, old black dog he knew my name.♫ I am able to recognize when I am moving toward going down the rabbit hole and veer my thought patterns, or at least recognize when I am due that kind of grief and allow myself to have it.

I try largely not to confront others as I would not want to be confronted. I've moved past many stumbling blocks in raising a child where I saw my father, and many parents, almost seek out the arguments and judgmental-ism that can cause an irreparable rift between parent and child that remains between them for years. I saw a lot of drinking and arguing as a child; I catch myself before anything I might say to a family member may do harm. I've seen the price and it is never, ever worth it. I saw my father cause a great deal of hurt and awkwardness in my family; under the guise of tough love he always had wanted to show you that he had an analysis of your behavior nailed, and you never knew when or where he may turn on you like a wombat and give you both barrels.

I know, I mix my metaphors like a Mofo, but you get the drift. Hemingway never forgave his father committing suicide and thought the man an utter coward for what he did to those left behind. That alone should have been enough to keep him from self-harm. Yet he never reconciled that disgust with the willingness to press the shotgun to his own brow. 

I work hard to eliminate the wrongs I've seen in my past and the wrongs those I admire did to themselves, their families, or what they had done to them. I don't imply any of this is easy. It's not easy, it's very fucking hard. One wants to always 'go off' on all offenders, but the offenders? Sorry but they are us.

If we don't learn and adjust our behavior, what are we here for? If we don't ply our art to put a spotlight on wrong thinking or try to heal through example, what are we plying for?
Next time: The Old Man and the Sea.



03/28/21

Plea: I beg my brother and sister writers not to pilfer the ideas set forth in this Journal. Have your own fun!

Writing my current book-in-progress a thought occurred. I don't now if one can be said to be good at naming people, places and things in their writing, but I do know for sure that I really love doing it. If I may compliment a cancel-culture person, I think seriously that J. K. Rowling is the all time champ. The number of names she had to come up with over seven books of Harry Potter is astounding, and they perfectly fit whatever person or fabulous beast she is labeling. Hippogriffs, Dumbledore, Hermione, Snape, Voldemort, Weasley, Diagon Alley, Hogwarts, Umbridge, Hagrid, Lupin, Muggles and my soul mate, (yes, I love her) Luna Lovegood. One could go on all night.

Sometime the stuff just falls in your lap. When I was writing my story about Bram Stoker dealing with the real Dracula, there were people in Stoker's life that couldn't have fit the bill any better; his boss Sir Henry Irving, the scholar Abraham Van Helsing is possibly based on, Arminius Vambery, and the actress Ellen Terry. Awesome Victorian splendor. In my story reprinted in the brandy new anthology, The Black Stone, I did a lot of research on what names may be associated with the Water, as my story is rife with Lovecraft's Innsmouth denizens: the heroes, Dorian and Brooke, the brash young Dylan, hag Rona, nubile and lissome Undine, and the hulking monster, Merrow. Lol. 

In my unsold Biblical epic about people caring for the afflicted with an unusual strain of leprosy, we have Zadok, the young Jesus acolyte, Marath, the attractive older woman who mentors him, Titus, the former Roman who's a volunteer, and Abana, the large strongwoman attendant and bodyguard. I believe I scoured old Hebrew names for that story. In an unsold story set in Oz where L. Frankie Baum had already named many characters, I had to come up with Ozian terminology for an erotic scene: the male organ became a doo-lolly, the female, doo-shay and the climactic result, the young man's jay-zizz. I based this off what my wife's family grew up calling a penis. In my house it was your pee-knee, but that's another journal.

Ever wonder, with this entire imaginative lexicon, why I rarely get accepted, hahaha? The witch tale I discussed in my last entry had the most exciting name my brother Walt and I discovered in our family tree, the incomparable Susanna Blood. That is 100% an accurate real person and not at all futzed with. She lived up in Chelsea Massachusetts, a town my ancestors help found in the late 1700's. The second I saw that record I knew if I ever wrote about a witch, that was going to be her moniker. With an overflowing binder full of ancestors as well as a giant wall chart, I have very frequently mined the past of my own DNA, and even that of my wife's, to come up with characters, and mostly in the appropriate historical periods.

In my first horror novel, being shopped to agents and publishers in New York, I hit sort of a Nirvana in my naming infatuation, pulling the key players right off my family ancestry. There is top villain Basil Rielle, leader of a thriving two hundred year old pack of werewolves. There is Maximilian Koch, his Beta, (who should be played by Jason Momoa) named for my dog and a revolutionary-era German mercenary soldier in my tree, Ernst Heinrich Koch of Bavaria. Then there is my beautiful and resourceful female shapeshifter, Zoe Burel, actually my Great-Great Grandmother. 

In naming characters based on people I know in real life, I bring up an image of the person in my mind, look very, very hard, and try to match them with the perfect name. In a lot of cases, this is extremely difficult, mainly because the person already has the absolute perfect name for them. This happened a lot in my literary novel, a fictional memoir, where I imagined twists and turns my life might have taken had I not chosen the path I have lived out. To not "out" any other folks, I will say that the heroes of these two books have my alter-ego Dick Scotts as protagonists, Rick Doyle and Nick Sullivan (I was always Scotty, and he is Sully). My erudite, warm and loveable best friend Chris became Charles.

When these things hit the stands, you may be able to guess who is who, and won't that be fun?

Below: My Grandpa Edmond Henri Scott, dead in 1926, thirty years before my birth.




03/14/21

I had a friend a while back who was a practicing witch. As I was finding my feet in the literary world, she would often help me with research questions. She asked always for anonymity due to her public position in the community, and has since moved away from my area, but in that time I was given access to a world that both humbled and fascinated me.

I wanted to write a story in which a woman in 1692 was living one town over from Salem, Massachusetts, and could feel the heat about to come down on her from the village elders. Only, in this case, the woman really was a practicing witch who was intricately involved in town affairs as a midwife and healer. Thus was born Susanna Blood (an actual ancestral name in my family tree) and the village of Piety, Massachusetts. I search for a female-centric market to get this story out in the world but most such publications also want female writers. I persist.

What makes me proud about writing Under the Blood Moon is that the witchcraft contained therein, with the help of my friend, is all authentic. Author Doug Clegg once said something funny to me, "I would have probably just made it up." He's right of course, but I did take a dive into learning about Wicca and doing my own magic. I did new moon wishes every month for years and, among many, did a spell that would ensure our continued financial security that appears to still be working after 14 years.

That spell, I purchased at the shop of Laurie Cabot, the Official Witch of Salem. I know I did it properly and it has been a doozy. I dragged my extended family on foot to the outskirts of Salem during a bus trip, lol, where they got to see another side of that city. They didn't have to come, but they were intrigued, I guess. "Okay, that was the Witch Museum, now let's go all over creation searching for a real witch of Salem's shop, lol." My sister-in-law Helena was brave because she never wanted to get too far from the bus. She reminded me of Frederic Forrest in Apocalypse Now, my favorite all-time movie, after he'd been scared in the Vietnam jungle by a tiger, "Never get off the boat; never get off the boat."

This was the result of a change in my travelling policies that started in the early 2000's, after my eldest brother and I had worked on our family genealogy, where I made a promise to myself, the cinema geek since childhood, that I would stop being just a "watcher" in life and would become a "doer."  Wherever I go I want to get into the real meat and potatoes of the life there and not just the touristy stuff. Difficult with a family that always seeks the bus tour, but my wife and daughter are at least usually game to explore.

My friend set me up with a wand that was fashioned by her coven and blessed by the high priestess. This is kept in my study wrapped in a soft and sparkly cloth and used only for magic. I can't tell you how many gems, stones and candles I collected at that time for all manner of spells, with the appropriate manuals for such work. Of course, all magic is strictly, "An' it harm none, do what ye will." There's that pesky codicil that whatsoever ye may do will come back threefold. "Ever mind the rule of three; what ye send out comes back to thee." This is not only Wiccan Law but a universal rule. 

Karma, man. 

But of course it does not just apply to Black Magic but also to doing good by your fellows and hoping the good will come back to you.

Now if I can just find an editor that believes Susanna Blood is a worthwhile heroine.




02/28/21

With my own faulty memory, I find I jumped ahead in the order of my short story struggles, with there being three before the one I just outlined in this journal, "Assault at Innsmouth." The first of these was a little ditty by the name of "Feast of the Vandals," evolved now to "Night of the Vandals." I worked hard on this sucker that has had a cool history all its own, with the exception its still being rejected for publication. 

Back in my heyday, (or am I now in my heyday?) when I worked in the theater in Downtown Providence and lived with my alluring young wife in one of the old Italian neighborhoods, there was a newspaper and TV story that caught my eye because it was nearby. A group of teens had invaded the city's large North Burial Ground and done a ridiculous amount of damage; like way beyond the ordinary. It was a long play-by-play article, telling how the youth suspected of being the ringleader had gotten hold of a baby's corpse in one of the mausoleums, and, unthinkably, began waltzing around with it to amuse his friends. 

The person committing this atrocity was pointed out to me, as our back porches abutted a fence in the middle. I saw him through the window one day and his visage haunted me thereafter. The fact that these were all Latino kids did not phase or concern me to any degree, but just that this guy, with his long stringy hair, intense eyes and nearly skeletal face, did give a first impression of a Manson in the making. 

It was over ten years later I would write the story, creating a counter character known as the Caretaker. Caretaker is a self-educated history buff who considers the element that destroyed his stewardship no better than the heathen tribes of pre-Roman days. In my tale, they also kill Caretaker's guard dog, forcing the neo-barbaric Caretaker to exact revenge. The story has a lot going, including the little used element of exploding casket syndrome, and a heroin who is the ringleader's girlfriend, but with a conscience. 

The story begins with an almost documentary feel to the writing and acquiesces into regular narrative as we catch up with the present time in the tale. Tom and Elizabeth Monteleone, the editors of the famous Borderlands anthologies, passed on it with the encouraging note that they found it "well-written." 

That can make a guy's day but of course the end goal here is to get it out there. It came exceedingly close yet again with Crystal Lake Publishing for a Tales from the Lake, but the real nail- biter was when I entered it as a Hollywood pitch to be made into a film. 

It was proclaimed throughout the land that the local boy turned Hollywood Director; Michael Corrente (Federal Hill, A Shot at Glory, Outside Providence) was running a competition, American Idol-style, entitled Scare Rhode Island. Writers, and regular folk with a dream, would have a few minutes before a panel of big-name judges to pitch an idea for their Horror movie to be given the big screen go ahead with each having a budget of a million dollars. Now we know that doesn't go far in Hollywood, so some easy peasy locations and unknown stars would probably be in order. I got into the line of hundreds on a sunny Sunday morning and toughed it out (five hours in line). I know, unnerving, right, considering that when you got there, you would instantly be "on." One was led into a fancy suite of offices eventually and was within grasp, finally entering the spot-lit room with a half dozen bigwigs sitting, anonymously and silently before you. I was prepared and had memorized and timed my pitch (old theater auditioner from way back) so I valiantly tried to hide the nerves and got through it quick. 

"Thank you, we'll be in touch," and you were ushered away swiftly, but....not before I heard one of the cognoscenti proclaim aloud, "That was a good one." 

I did indeed get an email that I was in the semi-finals. I got a longer meeting with Michael and a few others where I had to bring a full-blown treatment, then I finally heard, way much later than was rational, only through a newspaper article (this contest was written about extensively, as you can imagine, in our little state. It was tantamount to America's Got Talent). So there were those hopes dashed and I went on to subbing the story while writing my own clumsy screenplay, just in case. 

Note: a long article in our Providence Journal years later explained thoroughly why, and still to my knowledge, none of the Scare Rhode Island's eight winners' films have been made. So I'm still ahead of the game. 

Below: My love of graves with local lore. This, Rhode Island's vampire legend Mercy Brown.


02/13/21


When I was in the throes of my first research on my state's most infamous horror resident, H. P. Lovecraft, I learned about a deep personal connection between us that I could not have expected. Throughout my life, except when it was imprudent and unwarranted due to school or work, I have preferred to stay up very late at night and sleep half the day away. I think I have done it, when permitted, since I was about twelve years old and dipping into the life of a teenager. As my life has progressed into the non-working elderly years, this tendency has grown into basically sleeping when I want.

That's right, I may see the dawn and even go beyond it without missing a beat, then at the other end have to be coaxed awake to watch my beloved Jeopardy. Or I may rise in the afternoon then wind up allowing myself a full blown two hour nap at eight in the evening. I just don't give a hoot and I just don't see the need to keep any kind of schedule. As cavemen, we slept in fits and starts at any old time, and that's the way I prefer it. Well, apparently, good old H.P. did as well. Yes, he was also a vampire like me, remaining in bed all day and ensconcing his chamber with room darkening curtains. I used to utilize them to the fullest, but they were so efficient that I could effectively turn day into night and completely fuck with my circadian rhythms. 

These days I've gone in the other direction, having my windows completely free of curtain or blind. As there are no humans behind my bedroom for acres, I sleep and wake to the natural view of the outside world: the snow, clouds, sun, greenery, birds, wind and rain all there for my fluttered eyelid retinue. It's gorgeous.

This put me in quite the position of relating to Howie. I went online and started exploring what collections were available to me, as I was aware Howard's papers were gathered a stone's throw away in his favorite college hill district. My target was the John Jay Library near Brown University and the gentleman's very own copy of the tome I sought to emulate, "The Shadow Over Innsmouth."

No fledgling to handling delicate materials, I, having played the Genealogist for the first four years of the Millennium. But never quite to this extent, as the librarian fetched a wedged foam-pillow and a pair of white gloves in fresh plastic wrap. This was a copy of Innsmouth published in a small book form, though it is considered a novella or even a long-form short story. 

And thus I touched the edition the man himself did touch. 

Throughout were scribbled little marginal notes in pencil in Lovecraft's own hand. He was actually correcting all of the typos and wrongly printed phrases that should have been changed, lol. Apparently this volume was to be a gift to a friend that had never quite been delivered.

I hadn't been this excited by a degree of separation since, at a convention; I shook hands with Beatle girlfriend May Pang (one had to assume that she often had a grasp of John Lennon's penis). I do find my ways of penetrating the inner strata of history in no small role.

As my story "Assault at Innsmouth" nears its second printing in an upcoming cosmic anthology, please keep in mind that at any point your little heart desires, you can sign up for free at Bandcamp and listen to the sublime anthology of recorded soundscape "The Black Stone - Music for Lovecraftian Summonings" which will accompany said printing.


Throw open the curtains and blinds of your bedroom window and watch the rain while listening. You will thank me for being flown away by night gaunts.





01/17/21

The fourth story I wrote in my adult-serious-writer-persona was a deep dive into the man that put Horror on the map in the state I've lived my whole life: the honorable Howard Philips Lovecraft. I knew more than a smidge about the loco boy made good but not really a lot. I figured it was about time to find out what's a Cthulhu, where's Arkham and who is Herbert West? 

Although researching a short story, I didn't want to be the guy who lives in a state and doesn't know eldritch squat about its most famous inhabitant. Particularly since I was working in a bookstore in Lovecraft central, literally across the street from where he grew up. I took the History society's famous tour, saw Howie's haunts, read a whole bunch including his works, and even went to a library at Brown University where his archives are kept. 

I had decided that my favorite of his tales was "The Shadow Over Innsmouth." I've never been an ocean guy though I live in the Ocean State, Rhode Island. It's not just because, as Woody Allen wrote, "There are spiders at the beach." 

It's because I hate getting up at the ass-crack of dawn, loading a car to capacity, putting tepid cold-cut sandwiches on top of a cooler with ice, taking a blanket out of the cellar that has more mold than Bela Lugosi's cedar wardrobe, getting in a four hour traffic jam in 104 degrees, paying a nice dinner's price for parking, walking to a "good spot" in the crowd about three feet away from an obese fifty year old Italian woman's crotch as she yells at three weeble kids to "wait a half hour," lying down on said blanket to begin baking in a sticky coconut smelling haze while hearing "Alone Again, Naturally" from the radio blaring two feet on the other side of you, taking a quick dip in water the temperature of an Arctic glacier, getting thrown hither and yon by an undertow with the strength of Arnold in his early years, fighting algae and poisonous jellyfish, having your warm cold-cuts dive-bombed by a cacophonous group of sea buzzards, only to be killing time for an eternity until you are allowed to go home with salt and sand in every piece of clothing and orifice on your body, until you can finally take a cleansing and sanity-restoring shower and get into your nephew's bed which has more sand than the aforementioned beach at the foot in the sheets, only to feel the waves still tossing your body into the undercurrent and back again to shore. 

That may tell you that the beach is not for me. That's why I am so scared and grossed out by "The Shadow Over Innsmouth" and why I decided to just go whole-hog into a tale of a golden young couple's car breaking down in Lovecraft's seaside wreck of a town and there being little hope of their remaining unscathed. It may be one of my most brutal. 

"Assault at Innsmouth" was a piece that not only got picked up right away, but is actually about to go into its second printing. Tim Deal at Shroud Magazine, then a viable market as "A Journal of Dark fiction and Art" wrote me "I love it" and I got to share the pages with the likes of Ben Eads, Michael Knost, John Shirley, Brian Keene, Kevin Lucia, Willie Meikle and Maurice Broaddus. 

Oddly, and very unprofessionally, a man whose last name is Shanker, (like what you get on your genitals when you have syphilis), reviewed the magazine, one in which HE HIMSELF HAD A STORY.  There's a sort of pride in me that, after he heaped praise on all involved, he chose, (guess who, yes, me), to throw under the bus with the only negative review of the issue. Everyone in the industry I've ever met since all agree that it was a dick move. 

The great thing was that he provided me with a quote I've since used to promote the extreme tale, essentially saying 'I'm never one to knock the value of shock...but (Scott's work) crossed the line...' Thank you, sore-on-balls (Sauron balls?), for bringing many hardcore horror readers to me. Next time: white gloves in a shanty town and listening to Lovecraft. 

BELOW: The Fleur-De Lis building in Providence, RI, mentioned in HPL's "Call of Cthulhu."


01/03/21

After my Dracula story was set in Dublin, I wanted to expand my inclusion of Ireland in a tale. I would not be a writer and I would not be RAS as a writer if I did not go after all kinds of folklore from over the world, and I've spoken of my love for Ireland and its haunted, misty forests. The creature that's most fascinated and produced chills in me since childhood is the dreaded BANSHEE, whose shriek is heard in the night when a family member is about to be collected by Death.

Thus was born The Keening Man and my first brush with an unscrupulous publishing firm. 

My encounters with the Banshee in entertainment culture were few. Of course the excellent rendering of her appearance and voice in Walt Disney's Darby O'Gill and the Little People (1959) was enough to burn her into my brain at a tender age. But later in life I encountered Ray Bradbury's story of hearing her cry with Director John Houston while filming Moby Dick in Ireland, for which Bradbury was writing the screenplay. He chronicled this phenomenon in the fictionalized novel Green Shadows, White Whale. Basically he and Huston are drinking too much whiskey one night in an Irish cottage and they hear the wail of the banshee. Huston tells Ray that he must go out and confront the creature, and Ray says. "I'm not going, if you want her confronted, you go." LOL

I got to meet and speak with famed Irish Vocalist and Harpist Aine Minogue and she has a lot of interest in the Banshee and Keening in general. Keening is wailing that people actually used to pay for, and probably still do, at funerals and wakes. A team of women attend and cry like their souls are aching over the death of your loved one. After Reading, you must listen to her mournful "Song of the Banshee" trying to recreate this: 


My story had to do with a terminally ill American man who accompanies a friend to Ireland on a temporary work assignment. They both find love, which is however complicated by the fact that the friend is married in the U.S. The banshee makes a few harrowing appearances and the locals tell the American that his family name is a suitable target for her visits. How will his fate intertwine with the eerie figure?

This story was immediately picked up by a company called Ghostwriter Publications of Dorchester England, run by a man named Neil Jackson who renovated and ran a small hotel with his wife. He was adept with the amalgamated digital book covers which took an unauthorized (not known at the time) image and fiddled it into horror gold. Jackson would buy up short stories and turn them into pretty chapbooks called Penny Dreadful's as well as Kindle versions. Contracts were signed and I still have mine. I saw that other worthy scribes such as William Meikle, David Niall Wilson and Timothy Deal were involved so hey, terrific.

Not terrific. My "Keening Man" Penny Dreadful was never printed; it was released as an ebook with another of my stories attached, the sales of which I never saw a dreadful penny from. I have it still in my Kindle, but Mr. Jackson disappeared into the British ether and the Banshee called out for the possible death of my career. Yet we sally forth. I'm certain that my esteemed colleagues saw little or no payment also, and I got my first lesson in vetting your well-intentioned publisher beforehand.

I have reworked and revived my tale as The Keening and am hoping for a happy ending to the tale of sorrow with a reputable publisher, and I hope the Banshee remains at bay for the foreseeable future.

This Journal entry is accompanied by the superb photography of my comrade in social media, Evan Dales of Toronto.





12/15/20

One of the great satisfactions about traveling or even thinking about Ireland is its ability to catch you off guard and take your breath away with its beauty and its profundity. The pictures tell the story of the green countryside, dotted with sheep being herded by the efficient and noble sheepdogs, the wooden or white fences corralling huge fields meant to wander and breath in, the deep forests whispering of ancestry and the faery realm and the misty and craggy shore enveloping you in its arms and lulling you to sleep in safety, knowing that you are home. 

Scattered over the land are the preserved ruins of the past, a history of a valiant people being overtaken by brutal forces time and time again, only to persevere and retain their cultural and ancestral identity. These ruins are viewed in awe and silence, a reminder that we have been who we are for a very long time on this planet, that we don't suffer fools gladly and yet we embrace anyone willing to be a friend and ally. We find them in the peat fields or on the next pub stool, but we cut through the distance and realize that yes, we know them, they are our family. 

I wax poetic because the land and its people demand it. There is no other way to approach it. It exists, like an adult playground of sentiment, family and spirit. 

When I say spirit, I speak of the human will, our ability to get through the difficult times, to maintain our balance in routine times, and to recognize the sublime when we encounter it in this brief life. I do not believe in the religious definition of a soul, the soul to me is our brain and our genes working overtime to find meaning in our journey upon this spinning globe. I believe we are really the embodiment of our ancestors, moving forward to deal with the era assigned to our care. That is the afterlife; that we venture forth, continuing on in the form of our descendants, and through them we are still of the world. 

I have no doubt that in the future we will find more and more about the memory that is stored, culturally and with regard to location, our roots and home, in our genetic DNA. I have felt it, we all have. That knowledge you've been somewhere before, that you know another individual well though just having met, that things are happening the way you wanted them to happen, rarely. 

In Carraroe near Sligo in the west of Ireland, deep in the wood, there is a holy site known as Tobernalt Well. It is an ancient place for reflection and healing, older itself than the Celts and dating to the Fifth Century, the four hundreds. Imagine what it has seen and suffered. Tobernalt means well on the cliff, and is an Anglicized name from the old Irish language. Nalt can be a joint or body part, and indeed the waters there are for the pain that life puts the body through. In the Eighteenth Century, when Catholics were persecuted and priests were hunted as blasphemers, the site grew into a shrine to which people would travel from all over Ireland to attend secret masses. Yes, they were the ones performing clandestine rituals in the forest, close to the land. They feared for their life yet they gathered to share in their beliefs. Again, the human spirit persevering in spite of all odds against it.

We are close to persevering through a time of isolation that has tested all of us. We look to whatever we think of as our spirit to be certain that we endure. Knowing Ireland has helped me to navigate my life with more reverence.




12/05/20


We've had our internet woes with windstorms this week, so I've been saving this just for you.

Thinking about the third story I wrote after starting to take things seriously, there was a subject I was aching to throw myself into that had always been of fascination to me: the Country of Ireland, which I now consider my home away from home.

Certainly all my life it had called to me, the faerie folk, leprechauns, giants, chieftains, pookas, banshees, all of it. The folklore grabs your mind as a child; your adult heart warms to the emerald land and her people. We knew that my mother, her two family names being Griffin and O'Brien, might have had a smidge of the auld country in her. But when my oldest brother Walter and I, from 2000-2004, made it a priority to go wherever we needed to hunt down our family tree, we quickly found that our Mom, Ann Margaret Griffin, was 100% Irish. There had been talk of some Scot in there, but we were able to close in on the fact that our great-grandmother Mary McGurl was born when the family briefly moved to Scotland, likely for work, but then the clan came right back home to the motherland.

So, as Yogi Berra might say, I am 100%-half-Irish. In my teens to fifties, St. Patrick's was the most important day of the year for me. My favorite holiday basked in the warmth of sentiment and shenanigans, and often found me drinking right after an Irish breakfast at 10am, to the wee hours of March 18th. Yes the Scott boys were legless, and as a grand finale to the festivities, Walt would treat us all to a fireworks display of Linda Blair-style projectile explosiveness to match a Monty Python scene. Ah the good old days of foolhardy duration. Of course, throughout that day the key point was the mood of the people out celebrating, reaping the benefit of a well worn "kiss me I'm Irish" shirt and some boozed-up lasses, plus a few affectionate men.

Now imagine a country where every day is St. Patrick's Day. Where the warmth and friendliness of the people knows no bounds (except driving the roads), where the plentiful pubs are loud with merriment and the live music and Craic (fun) can happen anytime, and where the misty forests, greener-than-green hills and foggy wetlands seem to gather the magick folk around every old ruin (which are everywhere, and governmentally preserved). Out to eat? Strike up a conversation with the couple or family at the next table. At a pub? Join in the singing or dancing and get to know everyone around you. Out hiking? Breath in the always temperate air (there are palm trees in Ireland, and rarely snow in the hills), sleep with your window open sans screen, (no mosquitoes or other night bugs), but you may, as we did, find your host's cat in your bedroom next morning).

My first trip there with my wife and daughter, I had only booked a car rental and our first night's lodgings. After that, for two weeks, it was the open road and calls ahead (at lunch break) to Bed and Breakfasts where it looked like we'd land that day.

"Have ya got a room Missus?"

"That we do."
"Oh, that's grand! We'll be there at four."

We were always welcomed with open arms, an invitation to watch TV with the family or to sit in the lovely atrium's sun, writing away in our journals. Amelia, age 15, acted as navigator when Mom needed a break, with only a book of maps, no GPS yet, and Dad diligently trying to figure out the car's operation and the left-handed road driving. Oh how they laughed when in the middle of my first roundabout I continually sprayed the windshield, and oh how they screamed when I would nonchalantly back out of a parking space into the right lane of traffic, from second nature.

Come back me boyos and lasses as there's much more to come on this land that God himself has touched.





11/15/20

Richard: I'm here for one specific purpose, and that's to welcome you all to Time/Life's newest collection, one that every home should cherish and study. This is the Time/Life treasury we're calling REJECTION'S GREATEST HITS. And here to tell you more is my very alluring co-host, who took you all for a ride in her beautiful balloon, the one, the only, Marilyn McCoo of The Fifth Dimension.

Marilyn: Aw, Richard thank you so much for that glorious and rather flattering introduction (giggles). I am here to help you and everyone out there take a walk down memory lane while reliving many of your early, and even some very recent REJECTIONS. Folks, you can't find these HITS in stores, or you'd have to search deep into Richard Alan Scott's hard drive to dredge them up. But Time/Life has saved you all that work, and we have them collected right here for your reading pleasure

Richard: That's right Marilyn. So let's not waste any more time bringin' on the HITS. Remember this one?

"To be blunt, the comments I received from one of our readers, who shared my opinions on all the stories, were "characters I didn't care about and poor writing."

Marilyn: Oh, that had to hurt Richard.

Richard: Yes it did Marilyn, but there are, oh, so many more HITS to come, wrap your mind around this oldie but goodie-

"Alas, I must reject what you have been kind enough to submit. I am very selective about taking on new clients since the publishing industry has become so narrow in its focus and harsh in its treatment of debut and midlist authors. Projects must have stellar world building, characters that leap off the page, pacing that is relentless and a story that entices the reader to take its journey with the characters. I know that’s a tall order, but if your writing is lacking in any of those areas, I must pass on it.

Marilyn: Ouch, that's not very good at all. This next one was a very high-profile HIT that passed all expectations by taking nearly three years in arriving.

Richard: Aahhh, we know it well!

Marilyn: Get ready, y'all, cuz here's a real blast from the past-

"Sorry to be so long in responding . . . Regarding your story listed above, we found it well-written, but somewhat familiar and predictable, and ultimately not what we're looking for. Thank you very much for your interest in our series and your patience."

Marilyn: Like you had a choice!

Richard: Right on Marilyn! (they fist bump). But hey, how can we ever forget the smooth sound of this next one, hoo-wee-

"We really appreciate you giving us the opportunity to read your story! After reading and discussing it, we've decided that while we enjoyed it, we can’t use it for the anthology."

Richard: Well hell, as long as they enjoyed it, hehe. Hey Marilyn, you've got to remember this resounding HIT-

"While this is definitely the kind of project I am interested in, ultimately I wasn’t as taken with your manuscript as I need to be in order to fully get behind it, and so I’m going to pass."

Marilyn: Oh, my gosh, they said it's just their kind of project! (getting angry)

Richard: Hey calm down Marilyn, for me it was just "one less bell to answer."

Marilyn: Aw, you son of a gun. But hey, that's just like this little number-

"We really loved your story, and it would have been the twenty-first one accepted for this anthology. We only have room for twenty stories, unfortunately. Should there be a second anthology, you will be the first published."

Marilyn: Holy shit! (stomps foot)

Richard: Marilyn it's okay. I got over it, but there was no second antho. Know anyone who needs a psychosexual trans Wizard of Oz story?

Marilyn: No I sure don't. But I do know we have a long string of your biggest HITS-

~"While I found the writing to be very crisp and clean I couldn't connect with the story...."

~"Thank you for your submission, and your patience. However, we've decided to pass on this one. It was a very tough decision to make, Richard. It even upsets ME...."

~"I'm sorry it didn't strike me as quite suitable...."

~"While I found your premise intriguing, this project just doesn't feel quite right for me...."

~"I think you have an interesting story here, but I'm afraid I'm just not connecting with it on the whole in a way that makes me think I'd be the best champion for it...."

Marilyn: I can't hold back the memories. (wipes a tear)

Richard: (patting her back) Neither can I Marilyn. And the people at Time/Life and myself want to thank you for lending your lovely presence here with me tonight.

Marilyn: It's been my great pleasure. And ladies and gentlemen, call the number below to own this collection. And always remember, that for Richard Alan Scott- 

 Both: THE HITS JUST KEEP ON COMING !!!!!





10/31/20

In this special Halloween version of my Creators Journal I want to delve into the scariest and most soul-eating monster in all of writing. I refer to none other than, THE REJECTION.

Twenty-twenty has been a good year for me; I have accomplished a large amount of writing and editing of my own work. Publicly, my "brand" has gotten a small bit of traction and I am primed and ready with my blog and website to lure a big fish in the form of a literary agent. But please, tell that to the rest of the publishing world. Despite keeping ten submissions out to paying markets at all times, and despite keeping multiple agent queries constantly out on each of my two novels, the ugly specter which haunts my waking and sleeping hours is never far behind me: the rejection email.

We all deal with rejection in one form or another. There was that lover who had vowed to be yours forever. You had really thought you killed it in that job interview. Or horribly, your parent, child or sibling has just not connected with you the way you'd hoped.

I worked in theater for thirty years. I have flunked auditions, lost jobs and been treated like cattle more times than I can remember. When I broke through to become a member of the Actors union, at least I started to be treated as a professional.

In the literary world, rules are scant at best, going in both directions. A submitting writer is completely at the mercy of the agents or editors in question.

Here is an example of a rejection that allowed me to keep my dignity- 
"It's great to hear from you. Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to consider THE SHIFT. I'm a big fan of the premise and setting of THE SHIFT, and there is much to recommend about the story. However, after careful consideration, I didn't fall in love with these opening pages as much as I had hoped. For this reason, I have decided to pass and step aside. Richard Alan, I am so sorry not to offer you representation at this time. I have no doubt you will have great success with THE SHIFT, and I wish you the very best of publishing luck as you move forward. Thank you again for thinking of me. I truly appreciate the opportunity to consider your work."

Total class and professionalism. Pure and simple. This rejection lets your attitude rise above never wanting to get out of bed again.

This is your everyday, average rejection, and it is fine-
"Dear Richard, Thank you for submitting to Uncanny Magazine for consideration. Unfortunately, we're going to pass on this one. It just didn't work for us. We look forward to reading further submissions from you."

Classy, professional, to the point. These type are very important and it brings up a deeper issue. With this rejection, it still hurts, but I can move right on and re-submit elsewhere, untarnished. The organization had the decency to email me when they decided against my story, wasting no further time. You see, there is a state of being much worse than rejection, and it is the lowest of the low, lower than whale shit, as I've always said.

That state is the "not hearing." No word at all, nada, zilch. Are they tremendously behind? Is this person ill and fighting for their life? Did the outfit go under? Day after day of endless email checking only to stare into the void of utter silence. Some decision-making individuals excel at this one. They are so good at leaving you hanging interminably. I once got a rejection after two years, and this from a person who is at the absolute top of this profession

A recent example, something I found out about third-hand from a friend. The magazine had put this notice on their web page-
"This will be the final update here. We will read stories until 10/31, at which point the submissions period will be over. We may accept more stories for each category, but as of right now, every author who hasn’t been contacted about their story can mark their story as having been passed on."

Classless, insensitive, unprofessional, misleading, confusing; downright pisses me off, to be frank. I had two stories with them for consideration in different projects. I ultimately found I was rejected for the first by seeing an ad for the completed anthology when I went to see this notice.

Last year, when a writer stuck to his guns about not being paid by a publisher, many people came to the fore stating how they had also been swindled or abused by the very same publisher. Public opinion had spoken, and that outfit is no longer in business. This leads back to my point about my Actors union. Writers are artists, just like other artists, and they deserve to be treated as such. Especially if they themselves follow all inherent rules of protocol in their quest for a career. Professionalism begets professionalism. Writers are also people, with egos and hearts that can be bruised.

You see, when the rejections pile up, and one's plans for one's own career trajectory are forever put on hold, like any human being, a writer is apt to question himself. Am I that bad? Should I quit? Why am I doing this to myself? Why am I doing this to my family? Maybe I'm wrong, and I'm just not very good. They have to always pick the same people? I am just not in the club. I'm not in the clique. That story was so perfect for that project. Now where the hell will I submit it? This is the movie that fell through all over again. Maybe in the next life I'll have some luck, it ain't happenin' in this one.

There are those projects or agents that you really wanted, you just had to have. And they all fell through. If your seemingly greatest opportunities don't come through, where does that leave you with the long shots? On and on. It doesn't end, and it doesn't go away. You have to learn to live with it and move on. You have to persevere. You have to believe in yourself and what you are capable of. You have to shrug it off. 

We all know many artists were never appreciated in their lifetime. When I'm dead, I have to find a way to keep trying.




10/19/20

In the year 2013, as I took a break from life to get a triple bypass to my widow-maker artery and then recover (very slowly), there was a new short story collection by an author we all know that created quite a buzz. I had not heard of the person at the time but the gushing was so profligate that I could not ignore a dive into said collection.

I have been reading since the age of five and enjoying horror for just as long. This takes us through the period from 1961 to the present. For the first three decades of my life I read any horror I could get my hands on, but later I was more selective as I began to understand the sameness in many lesser efforts (see Grady Hendrix's Paperbacks from Hell). As a grown ass man of 40-63 I have really cut down on my horror as I find it is very difficult for an author to surprise or take me in, as I have seen it all.

By the same token I have a deep paranoia that I have to bring something new to the table in my writing. I try vehemently to remember if the idea I may have for a story or book is something everyone's been over a million times. Of course it is true that my sensibilities bring a different perspective to a tale, but that's not enough for me. I try to think of works that have done the same and how I may veer from them.

All this to say that I was not particularly impressed with this collection everyone was drooling over. Nothing against its author, I do try hard to support my fellow artists in all pursuits even if I am, by definition, not enthused. It is very hard to engage me after all I have consumed. I tend to enjoy criticism from writing pundits who lean on the curmudgeonly side, as deep down I often agree with them. In accordance with the discussion I began in my last entry, the stories in this collection fit the bill for the pervasive "ambiguous endings," or more accurately, no ending.

Recently, this group of tales has been given the TV/Movie treatment. I'm certain that many of the supporters of the collection are also enjoying the show, but I was shocked to find, on my favorite Entertainment website, JoBlo.Com, that the effort got a decidedly poor review and that the critic actually agreed with me about the work (more often today you encounter the perfunctory glad-handing review of various books and shows, the entertainment and writing communities being so incestuous).

"I can say with certainty that this may be one of the most depressing shows of 2020. In a year already rife with real-world problems ranging from racism to politics, pandemics, and more, this series debuts with a focus on the monsters inside us all. While this certainly makes for some intense subject matter, these self-contained tales only scratch the surface of these themes and only a few of them manage to delve deep enough to wrap with a satisfying conclusion.....there are up and down moments through all eight episodes. The most noticeable thing I found in (the show) is that the stories don't wrap up. There is a lot of build-up using supernatural elements or teases of actual monsters before you realize that these are all truly broken individuals with the horror elements all things that could be experienced in real life. ..... each story feels rushed and forced to fit into the approximately fifty minute run time, which leaves the endings with something to be desired. While I have no issue with stories featuring ambiguous endings, these episodes don't even end in a way that makes much sense..... we are left with episodes that force in the supernatural elements in a way that feels like an afterthought. (The show) ends up as a missed opportunity that will leave audiences underwhelmed and more disturbed than scared." 

As I point this out, I am as surprised as you. As I've said before, I'm well aware many people in the industries described don't agree with me- that the average person appreciates an ending that doesn't leave them scratching their head. The beloved Ramsey Campbell was kind enough to weigh in on my blog, saying "On the whole I find enigmas more satisfying and imaginatively engaging than explanations, and prefer suggestiveness to explicitness."

Thus I lean, as a writer, attempting to leave my readers satisfied if they want to be told what happened. There's every possibility it is an immaturity in me, but if so, one I share with millions.






10/08/20

One way that I know I am different than several other writers has to do with endings. I have come to realize, over the last fifteen years, and in years prior where I may have finished some stories, that what I have discovered to be "my voice" includes a certain way of wrapping up my works.

I want to give my readers a satisfying experience and a satisfying ending, and let me be clear; that means a reader finishing a story or novel and not be left feeling, 'WTF' just happened? What did I just read?

There are a great many authors, and in fact readers as well, who are okay with what may be characterized as 'an ambiguous' ending to stories. That means it's a kind of 'choose your own ending' situation, and things could now go one way or another after the story is completed. In my 63 years of life, I have found that the greater degree of people who are fine with that type of finale are either highly educated or are in fact people who are involved in the writing community, and that actually a great many of America's readers and movie viewers do not like endings that leave things open.
I'm not talking about happy endings necessarily, I'm talking about knowing what happened at the end of a story, whether good or bad. I am one of those educated people who are involved in the writing community. I can deal with an ending where I may have to think about it beyond the viewing or the reading. I can appreciate a good writer who leaves clues throughout a story that I need to be very cognizant of which will absolutely lead you to the answer to "what happened at the end."

There are writers, some not so good, that I firmly believe do not have what we call a "third act." They simply cannot come up with one, or are too frightened to wrap things up and be criticized. You are left at a point in the story where you have no way of knowing where things may be headed. Some 'ambiguous' stories are enjoyable, 'cryptic' stories are not. And most importantly, to the average Joe or Joan, those type of reads or views are not satisfying.

A friend of mine and great writer, Scott Nicolay, put out a sort of 95 Theses a decade ago, about his own writing. The 95 Thesis was a series of rules that some independent film directors agreed they would adhere to in movie making. I disagree with my friend on the last item in his list: 

10. The tale must follow Caitlin R. Kiernan’s dictum: “dark fiction dealing with the inexplicable should, itself, present to the reader a certain inexplicability.”

It is of course up to any writer how they fall on the 'ending' debate, but I have definitely found that when you read a story of mine, you will know what just happened, and if it is unsatisfying, it may be because it was sad, but it won't be because it's inexplicable.

A bit more on this next time and please reach out to me in Facebook to tell me your thoughts on this. 

I like a good wrap-up when I spend my valuable time reading or watching any story.




09/27/20

The second short story I wrote when I began to get serious was the one I've heard most about from readers. Again, it involves that old friend of ours, the nobleman from Transylvania and dream child of Abraham Stoker, Count Dracula.

I am like Lovecraft and yes, Dracula when it comes to my sleeping habits. I stay up all night and sleep in the daytime. I've done so all my life, except when I've had day jobs. One late night I was watching TV when an old documentary came on, an hour about the Count's history. It held my interest so strongly; I wanted to hear every second of it. It spoke of Bram Stoker's long held position (27 years) as the business manager of the Lyceum Theater in London, under the great Actor-Manager Henry Irving. Irving would have been a perfect choice for the role of Dracula, and no doubt Bram based many of the character's peccadilloes on the famous actor.

I had something else in common with Uncle Bram of Dublin Ireland. As a child we were both sickly. My asthma was bad and I lived for thirty years before prescription inhalers were invented. Any cold I got gave me a case of what they then called bronchitis, and had me bedridden for a week or more. Bram spent many a year in bed as well, and I know that was where we did a lot of our thinking and high flung fantasizing about adventures beyond this realm.

Bram and his father Abraham before him worked as clerks in Dublin Castle, his father throughout his life. I visited the castle on my second trip to Ireland and got to walk the halls and the staircases he walked. I can imagine the rush Dacre Stoker must feel as he visits all of the landmarks that were so important in his great-granduncle's life. I mean, it has to be among the greatest, if not the seminal horror novel ever created.

That late night I watched the documentary, a thought occurred. Now this was several years before anyone would hear of Dacre or the popular novel by Elizabeth Kostova, The Historian. Having had a career in the professional theater, the everyday routines and traditions of which do not change much over time, I could determine to make a tale in which Bram is working in the theater and for some reason comes across the real Dracula. I could undertake the daily machinations of his job easily, and those of the people surrounding him. I finally settled on a plot where Dracula would seek to become a large donor to the theater (constant outreach being a permeating need for business managers) in return for an introduction to an actress he much admired. Thus was born "Stoker's Benefactor," the character known only as The Count, the lovely Miss Lillian Addams, and a Professor friend of Bram's named Arminius Vambery, said to be the real life Van Helsing model.

Well into penning the story, those long nights at the French Library I spoke of, it was an "aha" moment that changed the entire aesthetic of the tale, when I realized the obvious notion that writers adapting Dracula must eventually come upon; the need to make it epistolary, that is, having the story unfold in a series of letters, postcards, diary entries, stage manager reports, etc. This was tremendous undertaking for a fairly new writer, but I had always been imaginative and I thought that if I stuck to what was happening around the theater, I couldn't go wrong. I set the story back in Bram's hometown of Dublin, where I don't believe the Lyceum ever brought a road show, but since I'd been there twice it helped immensely with the atmosphere.

I've told you before of the editor's ebullience in receiving it at a Dublin Magazine and how I did get to give it to Dacre. 

William Damkoehler, a leading actor for decades at Trinity Repertory, read it and wrote to me, "Damn, Dick! What an amazing piece. A multi-first-person, literary, theatrical, historical, comedy, horror, thriller, police-procedural f-in' masterpiece! What more can I say other than I'm blown away and the least little bit jealous!" This magazine, for those interested, is still available here:


A shot from Dublin Castle.





09/20/20

Continuing about writing my second short story and another brush with the immortal Vlad Tepes, I had 'sort of' my own private library when I began to write. 

I was a member for several years of the Société Généalogique Franco-Américaine in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, as I've said one of the only French speaking areas in the United States. After a couple of years of exhausting their records on my partially French Ancestry, back to the fifteen hundreds in Europe (they have superb records)...

I enjoyed going there to write. 

It was quiet, but there were a few hushed conversations going on in French that made a soothing background to my tales. Invariably there were fewer than ten people present, and I'd have huge long tables to myself. It was perfection, but, alas, soon I had to QUIT.

The drawback: Along with the cases and cases of old French books came a cadre of old French volunteers solemnly guarding over them. I'd be sitting there in the zone scribbling away on my long legal pads and a centenarian centurion would inevitably approach my table.

"No pens, please." 

Oh, yes, my bad. The first few times. 

I'd forgotten sacred rule #one, no ink around the books. Although I was not consulting a library tome at the time, any sort of writing implement other than pencil is verboten in the halls of genealogy, due to the threat of defacement of records with "Shirley Was Here" and other vital screeds. So I was reprimanded and I acquiesced. I was sure to have a couple of pencils on hand, thoroughly sharpened for such emergencies. I don't know if you've ever written a big project for a good while in pencil, but needless to say my tips became dull in a matter of minutes. So there were several trips to the library's very nice break room, where the steam-punk, hand-crank school sharpener lived. This was a solitary and dark space that was in the hall between several very large basement rooms that were always empty and void of lights. These old Woonsocket buildings were exceptionally creepy and gothic, and of course you know that was why I loved it there so much.

I'd enjoy taking an actual break in the break room between pages. There was a pot of coffee, some nice crackers, cheese, and Oreos on hand to build me up as I worked for a few hours. I'd throw money in a coffee can for the treats. Sometime someone else would come in and have a nice chat but nine of ten times I was alone. There were also Precambrian toilets out there, with actual chains you pulled from the ceiling to flush. I'd imagine some snot-nosed Catholic schoolboy got shanked by a bully in there and may be haunting it. The whole place elicited the creeps (again, perfect for me).

Now I was there to just sharpen, and this had to be done about every half hour for my remaining time there. So I managed to come up with a way to cut my sharpening trips, and piss off the Ordre Le Franco Chevaliers Bénévoles, (volunteer knights), when I thought of bringing several mechanical pencils with me on my writing escapades. Aha!
Approach me now, oh ancient one!

It was only a few moments before the first little old pen-sentry sidled up to my table.

"Excuse me, no pe...."

I unsheathed and held my gleaming sword before her.

"Pencil! Mechanical Pencil, Bitch! Who looks stupid, huh? Who's pushing the rules now, Grandma? How you like me now, you low-rent D'artagnan?

I didn't say that, but I wanted to.

"Very well," she scowled, pouting.

"Yeah, that's right! It is VERY well Madame DeFarce!

Of course, every person on duty approached me about my mechanical pencil, and then everyone working the new shift that came on. So really, I had won no battle for uninterrupted time management that bloody and fateful day.

I retreated to the break room with my mechanical pencil, had a cookie and coffee, and decided to continue to write in the silence there. 

"Ah, peace." 

One of the people who had been researching their family came out for a breather, and we chatted a bit about his plight to find the proper record.

"You know," he said, "were you to be in the library you could not use that pen in there."

"MECHANICAL PENCIL, BITCH."- No

"Thanks for the heads up." -Yes. :-( 

More next time. :-)




09/13/20


In the next couple of entries I want to discuss my second and possibly most successful short story of my writing career, thus far. 

I've been a Universal Monster fan since about 1962, but later in life I developed a professional relationship to Bram Stoker's greatest creation, Count Dracula. Of course I learned much more about the history of the legendary nobleman than his place in the Universal pantheon, and at about ten was introduced to the guy I always felt embodied the role, Christopher Lee. Tough to get such a tall and imposing actor with a baritone voice that registers in the sub woofers of surround sound, and I don't know how they'd ever top the figure he cut.

In 1985 I auditioned for, and secured the role of Professor Van Helsing at The Rhode Island Shakespeare Theatre, or TRIST, in the heavily trafficked and touristy city of Newport Rhode Island. We operated out of the carriage house of an eerily empty mansion, called the Swanhurst, converted into a lovely theater accommodating, I will guess, close to a hundred seats. I spent a decade as an actor in said company, but of course getting to play Van Helsing was near and dear to my heart. It was a full blown, pretty production with authentic set, costumes, a handsome and promising actor in the title role, and of course the wonderful setting. A moody and talented musician provided the haunting and groundbreaking electronic score as our Director, Bob Colonna, son of famed Bob Hope mainstay Jerry, and Trinity Rep Actor in his own right, worked with a collaborator to whittle down the actual novel for our script.

This was the kind of theater I most liked to work at, an ensemble piece created on the fly, harking directly to the genuine literature from which it sprung. All the words we spoke were from Uncle Bram's noggin. As there is no actual confrontation between the Count and Van Helsing, we manufactured a quick and effective silent stare-down as my young co-star swung from the rafters of the proscenium, lol. Dracula, his wives and the tragic Miss Lucy Westenra were outfitted with genuine, form-fitted fangs from a local Orthodontist, impressive indeed, and a friend, John, who took on the role of Renfield, got a fine set of disgusting, rotting prosthetic teeth to add to his bug eater's doomed transformation.

I faired well in the production, growing a full beard, and can remember getting my "regulation" tweedy professor costume and pocket watch to add that final hunkering-in to character. The Dutch accent was a bit of a challenge, one I eventually rose to, thankfully, and stopped slipping in to a comfortable German dialect. Things went rather swimmingly as I recall, though one night John had a near nervous breakdown in a scene where Renfield speaks to the Scooby Gang of characters who will go after the dread Count, you all know who they are.

I was then as you know me now, forever clowning around between working and attempting to make my fellows laugh. John appeared to me to be having some sort of stroke in the middle of a monologue to my character, and continually, as Renfield, leaned against Professor Van Helsing's mighty gut with his head down, trying to compose himself. Afraid that he was taken ill, I rushed some sort of questioning his dialogue back at him and made sure the proper info. got out to the audience. As we made it to the wings I held John and asked if he were alright. 

"Yes, but my teeth slipped and I was trying not to swallow them. Then I started laughing thinking what you'd tease about that later, and I couldn't get myself together from giggling and juggling my teeth on my tongue. You bastard!"

The shows in that company invariably got full houses due to the number of people wanting entertainment, and we got generally good notices. In one state paper, The Providence Eagle, this was said about your pal and humble blogger. "What makes Van Helsing truly invaluable...is not only that he provides a much needed focal point- and becomes in fact the true 'humanist' hero of the play- but that Richard Scott portrays him with such intelligence and exuberance." Gosh, after all that work, I'll take it, hahaha.

Note: four years later, my dear friend Karson Mesler, our Count, took his own life, for reasons that remain mostly unknown to me. I speak fictionally of that loss in my new Novel, "More Than This." Put in a thought that it finds a publisher. Dracula and his Brides from our production, below.





09/05/20

I have this odd coincidence going on in my life that I only became aware of fifteen years ago. Since about the age of fourteen, my bed (and my space in it), in juxtaposition to the bedroom wall with the windows on it, has been exactly the same no matter where I've lived. That includes the house I grew up in, two apartments after marriage, and my home of now twenty nine years. From the vantage of the headboard, I sleep on the right side of the bed (middle when I was single) and to my right is the wall that has the window or windows to the outside world. If one window, it has been at the foot of the bed, if two, there is one midpoint of the bed before the foot one.

In my teen years, my room was on the second floor. Dad was a Fireman, and we had my escape route all planned out. I would go out my window to a small side roof that was directly under it, dangle from said roof my full length and then drop the remaining six feet or so to the back yard. The theory was that even if I broke my leg, I would have survived the fire. In my apartment in Providence as a married man, we were on the first floor. Here the windows led to a tenement porch that was frequented by a roving band of nocturnal cats. That's when I started to keep a Louisville slugger next to my bed, as I'd grab it in the night to bang on the wall and disperse the orgiastic felines, howling to all hell and making a racket fighting and fornicating. I did not relish my role as Officer Dibble.

Now in my own house out in the country for nearing three decades, my windows open to a quiet and sublime acre of happy birds, silent deer and low humming mowers. The baseball bat is still in place as well as something else I've done since teen years- I've always had a small transistor radio (or whatever they are called these days) quietly playing oldies or soft music as I drift off. The music is good for another story, but for now suffice to say I am content in my same position of oblivion. Did I subconsciously set up all my beds that way and take the side I wanted? That's a good question, and it would appear so.

All this led me to the first short story idea I got when I went whole hog serious into writing- What if I ever went to sleep listening to my oldies in my same bed position, but woke up back in the house of my teenage years as the person I am now? Sort of a reverse Back to the Future where I'd encounter my brother and my parents (both somehow still alive) and start doing the activities I did as a kid. This evolved into "Now You're In Heaven," an as-yet-unsold science fiction tale where the main character squares off in a serious game of whiffle ball against his older brother, a death match of two senior citizens, winner stays home. It also has to do with dreams I often have of being back in my childhood home wondering where my wife, kid and house have gone.

I should say that my childhood home, pictured below, was purchased by a monastery of Monks and turned into a Buddhist Shrine. That doesn't happen to just anyone.




08/27/20

So this one year, when my brother and I were both in the midst of job drudgery and boredom, we decided to turn a five-day weekend into a road trip up to Quebec City, Quebec. He was perhaps fifty to my forty-one. We knew we had some relation to the area because we'd grown up in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, one of the two major French speaking areas of the United States for most of the Twentieth Century. We only explored our Genealogy formally several years later, in the 21st Century and found out that indeed the greater part of our paternal lineage came directly from the Montreal area, specifically a town called St. Hyacinth, but that's another story.

It's about an eight to ten hour drive to my recollection, so we decided not to overdo and stopped at a quaint Vermont Inn for our first night. After a nice supper we settled down into what would be a last night of luxury before three camping in Canada. Sometime in the wee hours of the morning, in twin beds right beside each other, we were both in sweet oblivion. To my mind, I opened my eyes in the half darkness to see an old woman in a white nightgown bending over me. Macho traveler that I am, I screamed holy murder into the still night, and kicked upward at the frail entity about to either choke me or tuck me in. My top sheet and blanket flew into her on its way to the floor, and she vanished.

My sibling, deep in the quiet slumber of green mountain bliss, nearly levitated from his bed, Regan-style, in a knee-jerk jackknife full-on heart shock Macarena. I told him I just saw a ghost as we both considered the need for the front office defibrillator. I was so certain that I awoke first and saw after. Be that as it may, we both needed a night light and some music playing to ever go back to sleep.

My other sighting was in my current home where we've now been for 29 years. There is no denying that we have our very own Rhode Island Historical Cemetery #69 right in our back yard. Quite a lucky happenstance for a horror writer, wouldn't you say? Yes I have researched it in town and there are fourteen individuals there, with no veterans. The only name we have been able to discover is that a man named Washington Logee appears to be the head of the family, and his is the only identifiable stone with writing etched on it. A talented neighbor of mine did a wonderful job of restoring the lot on his own; it even has a bench where I can write.

Again I really believe that I woke first; witnessed later, with eyes wide open. I was taking an afternoon nap in our master bedroom when I looked to my left toward the doorway. There was a woman with wild white hair standing there peeking in at me, being entirely docile and just observing. She even turned her head a bit to get different angles. I instinctively felt no threat from her and was not scared. I did not scream like a little girl this time, nor like a grown man. In fact, I smiled at her. Within a moment she faded away. The one thing I could not understand was that her face was tremendously swollen and her features were distorted. I wondered if she had some abnormality or illness that affected her face in that way. I honestly think of her as looking like one of the Morlocks from the old Rod Taylor/Time Machine movie, minus the scary teeth.





08/15/20

There have been a few inexplicable experiences in my life that beg the question of goings-on out there in the ether. You know, those things that happen to all of us and make us say, "Holy shit." One of them is also described in my upcoming literary novel, currently titled "More Than This," needing a publishing home.

About a month ago I spoke of my association with a witch who was giving me an education on all things Wiccan. I had sent one of my early stories "Stoker's Benefactor" to the top genre magazine in Ireland, hoping that its Dublin location and Stoker's Irish upbringing would spark an interest. It involved Dracula becoming a donor to the Theater Company Bram Stoker was employed with as business and house manager. The Count's only request for his generosity, to meet a certain young actress he admired. The story was submitted in July of 2006. I knew I was in for a long wait to hear a decision. But my witch friend told me that my mother Ann, dead since 1972, had contacted her from the other side and that I would hear about the story's fate on my Birthday, the first of December, in 2006. That's a pretty far flung prediction so I thought nothing of it.

Five months later, on that Birthday, I had gone out for browsing and dinner with my wife and when I returned checked my email. The longest letter you could ever imagine getting from an Editor was there, as foretold, in my inbox. ".....I enjoyed the story very much. There's a lot to like about it, and the writing is of a high quality, so is the characterisation (sic). You have written the prose and dialogue in a style that feels nice and antiquated, without being difficult to read in the least. That's often a big problem; we get lots of Victorian stories that are written in Victorian style. It can often mean the prose is turgid and difficult. It's all about getting the flavour (sic) of the era across, and you have done that very well.....All that remains is for me to say thanks for an entertaining read, which has awaken (sic) me from the stuff I normally get to read as submissions."

You can imagine my glee. This goes on for three full pages, I kid you not. The long and short of it was that my story was accepted and indeed published (Albedo One Issue #37). I often wondered if the witch herself was shocked at her own accuracy, hahaha, though of course she took it in perfect stride. I mean, that is like a needle in a haystack type of prediction, given that the Irish editor had no idea when my birth may be celebrated. My Stoker story was recommended for a Stoker Award, but went no further on the ballot. Even the editor was flummoxed by my witch story; everyone involved was. 

I got the distinct pleasure to put the magazine in the hands of my friend Dacre Stoker, Bram's great-grand nephew, when I met him at Stokercon, but I have yet to have the privilege of his reaction. There are many little Bram stoker in-joke references in the manuscript, lol.

Next time: encounters with the Ouija Board, the ghost of a Vermont Inn, and a Morlock. 




08/09/20

The Portrait of a Young Man as a Professional

People may do whatever they want with their work, I've given up making distinctions in this unfettered world. I repeat, for those eager to troll and take offense on the internet, "I hold no bearing on what others may do with the results of their writing efforts. It's your decision." As for me, I have a strange and elusive fetish that I hope you will forgive. I want to be paid. I want professional credits, as in, money exchanging hands. If not for my own coffers, then at least to bolster an organization or charity.

It may be because I've worked in the professional theater and have been paid wages due for my time and services. Good wages. I want my writing to be engaged in the public arena, whether you think of it as the literary world of New York or California or what have you. That is chiefly why, over the course of now fifteen years of adult writing, I have only a handful of credits to my resume. Along with the money, YES I do want to make it past the gatekeepers of the Publishing world. Without that validation I will never believe I was really good enough. Hey, again, that's just me! I am always eager to discuss my perversions, but please, no torches and pitchforks.

I submit my work primarily to paying markets, 99% of the time to complete strangers running Literary Journals and Magazines. They are not my friends, I am not in their circle, they do not know me. I have often said that even if I go to my grave having never made a mark above my own friends and family, I will have been able to say I continued to try, and that is what I expect of myself.

My quotation in my high school yearbook is, "There is no comparison between that which is lost by not succeeding, and that which is lost by not trying"- Francis Bacon. Throughout my life I've clung to these words. If there were ever two professions that are pretty much guarantees of a lifetime of failure, rejection and heartache, they are the theater and writing. But these are the vocations I've been afforded, and so be it. It's called playing the hand you're dealt.

After fifteen years, I can see the clumsiness and naiveté of my early efforts, and I labor and labor to hone and cut away at these nascent creatures, until I consider them up to snuff. Early in my career I signed a contract with a quickly defunct Publisher in the UK. This person not only never paid me, but fell off the face of the Earth. Once bitten, twice shy. Never again will I enter into such a covenant, if at all feasibly knowable at the time.

I have many friends in the writing community whom I cherish. But unfortunately, when it comes to the marketing and selling of one's work, we have little in common. If you think me ambitious, yes I am. If you think I seek the limelight, yes I do, but my goal is to get my work in the hands of the readers I want so desperately to reach. I know I will most likely die with the financial success (that sadly gets one noticed in our society), eluding me, and I try to prepare emotionally for that eventuality.



08/01/20

Having had the Medium I was visiting contact and discuss the Dead in my life, I didn't know what we could do upon the third visit I had secured with her, to possibly one-up that. These trips afforded me a ninety minute drive to a quaint town in Southern Rhode Island, where I did seek dinner and other goodies after our sessions, so I always made an afternoon of it. With candles lit, lights low and incense burning to soft electronica; we got into my other pleas to the universe that really came true, as well as the "Dream" world I explored in this journal not a month ago.

When I had first moved to the country my wife quickly decided to become a Girl Scout Leader, mostly to afford our daughter that opportunity. In her group were some diverse girls from a local group home, and when I remarked on their adorableness, she told me that a Child Agency was in our little village. I had worked for such places in my past, and though I was happily employed in the Theater, I had a vision at that time. It would not be bad, I thought, to be an administrator there, get big bucks, and if I ever had the Emergency Pager, I'd be right down the street.

Cut to 5 years hence. A new Director of my Theater Company resulted in my loss of that employment, and after a prolonged job hunt in my field, I was back in the kid business. A colleague from a far away agency I had worked at, near Fall River, somehow got the job of Director of the agency for my town across the state, and asked me to apply. Starting as Child Care and working my way up, I became Assistant Educational Advocate for the kids in one house, in Woonsocket. Soon thereafter, like really soon, like a month later, surprising everyone, my boss high-tailed it and left, (damn you, Kat, lol) leaving me now as sole Ed. Advocate for the whole agency. For a few years I was indeed an Administrator, did indeed have the Pager at times, and did indeed rush in to the houses right near me, though this was not an option when I first dreamed it up. That crazy ol' Universe was on it, and again it happened far down-river.

The third wish is as you see me now, writing full time and needing no other employment. Ah, clever Universe. Just as I was enjoying my new career bookselling, you hit me with a triple bypass to the widow-maker and a further heart attack at the failure of said bypass. I am now disabled and collecting, affording me all the time in the world, and even a shiny handicapped parking sign.

Ah, thanks universe. Now I can write at leisure and scoff at those hardy souls still working, and experiencing the stress monkey on their back, first-hand. But what of my prolific and exciting dream life which inhabits my mind and makes me interesting? Cassandra's take was a complete bombshell.

"Yeah, I need you to STOP that!"

"I'm sorry?"

"I need you to end that and save all of your fantasies for your waking life, when you need them most for your writing."

"How the hell do I do that?"

"You say that you call up your previous night's dreams to send your mind back to sleep. Stop doing that. Read and do your best to meditate and clear your mind before sleep. You mastered Lucid, you can do this."

I love you Cassandra, you are awesome and beautiful and were a great conversation and guide in my life, but I can't give my dreamscapes up. They are completely me, and they are one of my existences on this insane journey.





07/26/20

My second session with the Medium, the lovely Cassandra, was the closest I ever came to bolting from the darkened room. I'm not a fan of touchy-feely vague metaphors; I like my symbols succinct and cleverly representative of something. She started the session by saying that when she thought of me, a Dragon came into her head. "It's like you are a bold Knight battling an overwhelming obstacle that could be the end of your dreams, but yet you try to defeat it." Yes, all very true about writing, which she already had learned I was currently concentrating on. But, what am I, the Hobbit now? Hey lady, I'm not a Renaissance Fair Cosplayer, let's move on.

I'm certain that she felt a chill from me that snuffed her candles, yet she persisted. 

"In a past life I see you were a Monk up late at night in a castle, writing and transcribing feverishly." No Ma'am, that was Tuesday night. 

I endured, and must admit I experienced the most haunting revelations of my time with her. 

She got into congress with my dead, amidst the incense and soft music, and first said my brother (whose death I discussed two entries ago), was not noticeable to her because "he was far into the afterlife, socializing." Not entirely meaningful, but yes I can imagine it, since he and I had done our Ancestry and had many questions for those who had already crossed over, lol.

The showstoppers: "Here on the edge of the afterlife, your maternal Grandmother, who never saw you, remains very close by you. You are sickened with the same thing that took her life." Now none of this had been discussed, nor could I imagine any online information I'd ever divulged at that time, about how I never met any of my Grandparents because they had all passed before my birth. Also Walt and I had learned in our Genealogical research that my mother's mother, nee Elizabeth O'Brien, had been in the Mental Health facility in Cranston (then a Hospital) and had a leg amputated before dying of uncontrolled Diabetes (one of my struggles since 1996). We had no previous idea whatsoever about the details of her death, way back in the Forties.

She mentioned my Paternal Grandfather and said he is unhappy in the beyond because he was taken too soon. Again, can't tell how she would know that. She'd have had to do some deep digging for facts it took Walt and I years to find. At that moment, I was thinking "Here it comes, the make or break for her." Out of nowhere, she says-

 "I see a train that he missed." Now of all the ways to die, it shook me; rattled me to my core; that she was even so close. My Dad's Father, nee Edmond Henri Scott, died on the February night of a great blizzard, in 1926, at the age of 41. Imagine, my first Granddad was already gone in 1926, thirty years before I was born. That's like Prohibition, roaring twenties, ancient history shit! He had walked from a great elevation in the city of Woonsocket to Main Street, to catch a Trolley for Third Shift in a different city (having worked all Second Shift in another Mill). This is at least a good mile walk, in a raging snowstorm. There was no Trolley because of the snow, he walked back to his home in a tenement apartment up those hills, ate a huge supper, took a nap, and died of heart failure in his sleep, in bed with my five-year-old Dad. Doctors, who then did house calls, could not get to him.

That was a pretty close reference by Cassandra, to my mind, and still, a tough fact to come across even if you're looking in the right place. 

So now I looked forward to hitting her with my two other times life manifested my desires. Next journal.




07/19/20

One year on my Birthday my daughter, ever in-the-know, got me one hundred dollars worth of session time with a Medium. She was aware that I had been exploring all sides of occult knowledge as closely as I could. This particular woman was highly praised and sought after, and her practice was attached to an extremely upscale Yoga and Spiritual Health facility in South County, Rhode Island. What we Yankees like to call "down near the beaches." 

Let's call her Cassandra, because I love that name, lol. The hundred got me roughly a session and a half, so I splurged for the other half to meet with her three times. Knowing I'm at least a good conversationalist, I knew I could get through the three sessions with more than enough information to discuss. You see, the problem was, that by this point I had completely ceased to be a believer.

I did resolve to go in open-mindedly and not be some asshole just nay-saying every bit of information she gave me. I hadn't gone there for an argument, Mr. Cleese.:-D  Of course, Cassandra was very beautiful with flowing blond locks and in great shape for what I guessed was forty. So okay, no getting a crush on the Medium. Concentrate.

The biggest issue I wanted to undertake was that three times in my life, I had daydreamed, or some may say "put out into the universe" what I intended and wished my life to be like. What occupation, what schedule, what living situation, what dynamic, all of it. In all three circumstances, astoundingly, the scenario had entirely become true and unraveled with veracity. However, it was always way more far flung than I ever imagined. In other words, they ALL happened, but they took their sweet time.

It isn't hard to guess her response to this info. 'Of course The Universe listened, but it doesn't always adhere to the precise schedule you may have wanted to manifest.' My first wish had been to work in the professional theater as an actor, live in a city, and have an insanely hectic lifestyle with all the intelligent camaraderie and socializing that would accompany such a life. Sex and the City as it were. Well I did achieve it, but at the age of thirty-one, already married, and with one baby at home. I worked at Trinity Repertory Company in Providence, not as an actor but as a thirty year old Production Assistant, making coffee and sweeping the floors. 

In time I became a Stage Manager and was able to join the Actors' union and "get my Equity card." I actually was able to worm my way into acting in six productions there, unheard of for crew, and not as just "man carrying table." One time they needed a quick speaking part in an Irish play by Sean O'Casey. The actor Richard Jenkins (Shape of Water, Cabin in the Woods) was auditioning people and I put the word out I wanted it. He asked me if I had an Irish dialect. "We're here about the furniture you ordered missus. Where do ya want it?" something like that. "Fuck, you're cast," was Dick's reply after he heard me, lol.  This happened on several other occasions, one where I actually took an ill actor's role halfway through the play's run. When you're in the union, those kind of bucks add exponentially, I can tell you. More to come on this projection phenomenon.






07/11/20

Seven years ago, I lost part of my heart and self. 

My eldest brother Walter and I were so close that it is hard to put into words. At the risk of ruining part of my latest novel, a fictional memoir, I was born when my parents were forty, basically. Walter, their first child, had eighteen years on me. That's right. He had graduated from high school when I was born. Strictly a Catholic family back then, he was not only my brother but also my Godfather. I've known his wife Helena as long as I've known him. I saw him get married when I was three and my nephew and niece that came soon after grew up with me. My brother considered me one of his kids and his kids were my little brother and sister as far as I was concerned.

He died at age 74 in 2013 from complications of sepsis in his stomach that traveled to his brain. My sister-in-law says he was speaking in tongues at the end. I got to go to Ireland with him and other brothers in 2004, and he and I went out weekly as drinking buddies from 1974 to his death, often along with my brother Alfred and Walt's son Glenn. He was a staunch conservative and he and I could talk politics all night without getting mad. I would call my politics to the left of Bernie Sanders, or as I like to say, Trekkian (global unity, lol.)

I bring this up because in my journal about dreaming, this last of three entries takes a happy/ sad and sometime troubling turn. Of course Walter has appeared frequently in my dreams since his demise. Clear as day and being himself completely (funny, smart, affectionate, and loving). He respected me and my brain and he often looked to me for conversation the older he got. I was always the driver and often the tour guide, as I'm good at agendas and travel, and he was a willing passenger.

The first time he was hanging out in my dream after hitting what he called "the long dirt nap," Al and I had quite the conundrum. Just who was going to tell him he was dead? I was surprisingly against this, me the reality king. 

"Just let him enjoy himself," I argued. 
"He really should be told," was Al's stance. Being my dream, I believe I won.

The next time wasn't so pleasant. We were all walking in that mall I told you about two entries ago. Walt was weak, sick feeling, he fainted and I caught him in my arms.
"I love you, kid, you know that?" he said, as often in life, looking up at me. 
He faded. 
I cried, "Walt no. No Walt. Don't go; don't go, please Walt, please, no!" 

He died in my arms. I woke sweating and crying.

When I've come upon him multiple times since in dreams, it takes me awhile to realize that things aren't just normal. Jeez, Walt is dead. He shouldn't be here, but I'm glad he is. I'm not going to spoil it. 

"Why haven't you been calling me, in so long, Dick?" 
How do you answer that one? 

"Walt, what was it like?" 
"What was what like?" 
"Dying. Where are you now?" 
"What the hell are you talking about?"

I think I will get better at communicating with him in the future. 

When we were all in Ireland, we went to pubs like three times a day, and one lunch break we were behind time, and when we walked around the corner, our tour bus was leaving. 

"Nyah," we screamed like the Three Stooges, chasing it, waving and yelling. 

They stopped. Our good-humored Guide, Pat Frawley, greeted us with:

"We were goin' to look for you lads."

I see that story as a metaphor. 
If my relatives and spiritual friends are correct, of course, and there is an afterlife. 

"Walt. My brother. I'll be lookin' for ya, lad. I'll be lookin' for ya."





07/06/20

I left this hanging after describing the benchmarks that clue me in that I am dreaming. It is not instant and can take a while. As a participant in the dream, I am saying to myself, "There's something familiar about all this. Something. Something that I want to remember about this circumstance." Then, I'd say, two out of five times, if I remain asleep long enough, it comes to me, and I can go lucid.

"This asthma attack. Huge gulps of air. Oh yes this happens when I am struggling in my sleep. This is a dream." 

That's when things get interesting. I begin to experiment with unwarranted behavior in the dream. I may grab any woman nearby, old or young, and begin to kiss her passionately. They are surprised at first, because it has no rhyme nor reason with what is happening, but they start to respond and go with it, hahaha. Or perhaps I'll jump on a table and belt out "Luck Be a Lady Tonight." Or introduce everyone to my pet polar bear.

The situation that occurs the most is that I have just finished a shift at a job, (often a few of the places I've worked melded together), and I am able to go home. Or just as often, a class at the college I seem to be attending but at my current age. Even I question why girls of college age are interested in flirting with me, lol. But now I get to go home, wherever that is.

A few minutes later, it becomes quite clear that I cannot recall coming in to work or school, only that I was "there." So I have not the foggiest idea where my car is parked. I wander around, sometime with a friend or lady, struggling to remember where it might be, and laughing nonchalantly to ease the other person's mind, that we'll be on our way in no time. This is a lie. Sometimes I wander huge parking lots, small side lots, and on occasion city streets. Eventually it comes to me, "I'll never find this car. This happens when I am dreaming. I am dreaming."

Now I am liberated. I may say to the person I'm with, "No Problem. Ah, here it is right here." I have made cars manifest out of thin air, and never a car I've had in real life. On occasion, I say, "Watch this." I go over to a spot in space, hovering next to the curb, sit on a cushion of pure invisibility, 'start' the imaginary motor, get them to join me, and away we go. We are now flying a few feet above the road, accelerating to our destination.

One of my recurring solutions, if I am alone, is to walk home, but this always moves to my hometown and walking back to the house I grew up in. I get upset because I don't want to go to my Dad's house, I want to go to my house. I am a grown man with a wife, but dammit, I'll have to call for a ride from my Dad's. Whom I never recall has been dead for 22 years. 

There are deeper implications and further sparks which resonate with my writing, but I shall end this dream series next time.




06/26/20

I have been a prolific dreamer throughout my life. I can still remember dreams from my childhood, and I've never kept a dream journal. I do so much dreaming to this day, that documenting them properly would take half my waking hours. This is something about me which has never changed, only the regularity of my experimentation with them has increased.

In the essay "A Novel Approach" on my website, I outlined how a dream led to writing my first book. Several other of my dreams have led to short stories, particularly "The Quality of Mercy" about Lovecraft fighting a family of vampires here in Rhode Island (Unsold). Dreams for me are a never ending source in mining for ideas, and I frequently hit "the mother lode."

Several years back, during a long health recovery, I, out of boredom, began to dabble in lucid dreaming. I read a few books on it, tried some methods and never quite had success. This is the practice where you discover that you are in a dream, and then begin to fuck with it. I never tried the idea outlined in CBS' hit show, EVIL. They had you tying an elastic around your wrist in waking hours, and training yourself to look at it often, thus by the same token training yourself to notice its absence while operating in dreamland.

My eventual success in lucidity came about in an entirely opposite way. I began to notice recurring patterns and circumstances which only happened while I was dreaming. It may sound insane but they clearly manifested over and over in my dreams until I was able to finally wrap my mind around the similarities to other experiences WHILE the dream is going on. Quickly, here are my talismans, if you will, of the fact that I am in a dream: 1- The same landscape keeps showing up. It may be a campus of a college or other school, it may be a place I have worked, but the grounds always have the same characteristics (a series of parking lots on the far east side; as you enter the campus, a large marketplace, often selling museum quality artifacts and especially middle eastern and Islamic items; some buildings, and in the campus center, hills, sometimes into small mountains where sit enormous statues of the Ray Harryhausen variety, Greek Roman and Norse; a huge museum of art and natural history, housing dinosaurs and all manner of human endeavors, sloping back down into a modern mall with pricey stores, another stretch of buildings including cottages or dormitories, and more parking). This is not unlike the layout of Rhode Island College where I really matriculated. 

2- Because I am having actual sleep apnea episodes in real life, I have asthma in the dream, which I have under good control while awake and hardly ever occurs. 3- Is an easy one, when I am done my class or shift, I have absolutely no idea where I have parked my car, since I never "arrived" to the campus in the first place. I was just "there." After a while of searching, sometimes a long while, it comes to me that I am not in Kansas anymore.

To prevent this from becoming War and Peace, I have to continue the subject in my next installment. Sleep well.






06/20/20

I've been reading a book about David Bowie creating the album "Low" which was in a triptych of highly advanced albums of the late seventies and early eighties (Station to Station, Low, Heroes). Bowie was plumbing the depths of artistic impulse, utilizing lyrics of ancient occult predisposition, as well as electronic experiments in the most extreme and rudimentary musical phrases (also courtesy of Brian Eno and Tony Visconti). It's like they were putting a mixture of human impulses and sounds into a hat and pulling out the random order to create music that was not artistically predetermined. Bowie's brother had had Schizophrenia and died in a mental institution. 

Bowie and Eno visited an Austrian mental facility/ art studio where people were encouraged to paint. "None of them knew they were artists", he later said. "It's compelling and sometimes quite frightening to see this honesty. There's no awareness of embarrassment." At the same time, Bowie was enthusiastic over the book by Julian Jaynes, "The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind," which among some very radical theories of when man finally developed self-consciousness, spoke of prehistoric man's schizophrenic nature and as a direct result of it, the religious yearning.

On a further note, this was an album where one complete side was Bowie experimenting with instrumentals, spurred on by the Krautrock scene and groups like Kraftwerk. David was nearly fifty years ahead of avant-garde electronic artists we have "exploring" soundscapes today. Indeed my collaborator Raffaele Pezzella (Sonolygist, Unexplained Sounds) is a strong designer of albums which reach into our subconscious and elicit a reaction that is almost primal in nature. Also, it can be soothing or electrifying. For your own information, Bowie's flights into fancy with sound are collected on the album "All Saints."

Why this has resonated with me so deeply is that I do quite a lot of thinking about why I had to become a writer late in life, and why I feel I would be essentially lost, had I not taken up that mantle. Most of us have periods or even days where we sense that we are a hair-trigger away from "going off," and perhaps, if life-affecting enough, may never return to "baseline." I know that we all have our moments of depression and heartache and feeling overwhelmed, as well we should. It's all part of life. But it haunts me how close to madness writing can be. We need, many of us, to get our thoughts out of our head and create art, and that becomes our saving grace. We perhaps become more stable just in being able to transfer these pieces of ourselves to paper, canvas or tape. I can't find the quote at present, but I have come to realize that anyone who doesn't suffer some depression does not understand life.

We labor alone in tiny rooms, doing things that may make no sense to others, may never find those we hope to reach, and we risk exposure of our deepest flaws as much as our highest qualities. That's why I try never to denigrate a fellow artist and their work publicly, from the cushy Hollywood screenwriter to the Community theater actor. Everyone who stares at a blank page or even a movie camera has their demons to confront. Walter Mosley, the master writer, in his book "This Year You Write Your Novel" puts it so well, "The writer, however, must loosen the bonds.....to cross over the line of your self-restraint and revel in the words and ideas that you would never express in your everyday life." 

It's unfortunately true, loosening those bonds makes one's art truthful and immediate.






06/14/20

In the film, A Dangerous Method (2011), I believe David Cronenberg, the clever and talented director, is using his two protagonists as a metaphor to a struggle that goes through our own minds. Indeed, I feel most heartfelt explorers of life and its meaning will come to this crossroad eventually.

Is life and our universe just what we experience on the surface, a biological, physical and scientific phenomena easily explained by the best minds of our time, with some questions perhaps remaining? Or is life much more than we know, a supernatural and inexplicable experience, underlain by phenomena outside of our everyday knowledge and overruled by some governing being or principle, or forces which we know very little about. By the same token, when we die, does our energy or "soul" if you will, persist, and enter other realms or parallel worlds of existence?

In the film, in 1904, the argument is pursued by the two giants of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. Beside Freud being the pioneering older mentor of Jung, they do share a mutual respect and a love of philosophizing about their separate but often conjoining work. Freud is the ever staunch defender of reality and the medical significance of the brain's function while Jung has an intuition that things occur outside of mundane explanations. He is the proponent, after all, of Synchronicity, and the thought that many coincidences we experience are not just that. That life is surely overseen and somehow even guided by the supernatural, if you are aware of the clues to look for.

We all have the story where we call our brother and he was just about to call, where someone mentions E.T. and you come home to find your wife watching it, where a thought relayed to you by a friend comes up in another conversation hours after, and more incidents that same week.

I have always deeply admired the film as Cronenberg's argument with himself about the matter, the same one every human being goes through. Are this life and its incidents all that there is for me, what am I anyway, and is there something more out there that only the ethereal side of my nature can or will comprehend? In this sense I find it one of the most important of Cronenberg's films. What does the film imply: what else can it imply but that the mystery goes on and we are each responsible for deciding where we fall in the spectrum of philosophy before this existence is over.

A funny thing happened on my way to exploring deeper understanding of God, the supernatural, and the world beyond in my writing. I still mainly have interest in writing about this same challenge in my stories of the human experience, but as of now, in my 63rd year, I have fallen on the side of Freud. Yes, I've found nothing to recommend the other take but coincidence and wild speculation. It isn't what I expected, believe me.

I am an atheist and I believe that when my brain function ceases I will no longer exist and become food for worms. My atoms will eventually join the rest of their kin in the makeup of this planet and the universe. I will have no knowledge of their journey.







06/05/20

The objective I have pursued in my writing career has been a personal journey, if I may be so corny. I had spent my entire life, ever since I saw The Wolfman as a child and was terrified, trying to come to terms with the hidden realms, the unknown, the unexplained, the dark corners of this fragile existence. If it had monsters, ghosts, demons, angels, ghouls, vampires, werewolves, etc. etc. I was there. As a young person I did enjoy the miracles, mysteries and unspoken bits of my Catholic upbringing; to a point. I was such a believer that when the Exorcist book and then film hit when I was sixteen, I was primed and ready to keep my eyes closed whenever they went to Regan's room. After the vomit explosion? Oh hell no, I was out. And yes, my teenage eyes were shut tight.

It is exactly this guile and innocence that has had me enraptured my whole life by the extraordinary; the synchronous events, the frights, the exploration in book and film of what's going on below the surface. When my daughter was in Middle School, I arranged quite the field trip for her and her best friend. I also dragged my wife along as we visited first the grave of Rhode Island's vampire legend, Mercy Brown in Exeter, then HP Lovecraft's grave in Providence, and finally, as the dusk settled in and the fog rolled, the grave of Lizzie Borden in Fall River, Mass.

My child's English teacher got wind of this romp, but rather than scold, told Amelia that her dad must be very cool, lol. When I began to put stories together and had only my education to guide me in what I was doing, I asked this woman if she would mind editing for me. She was delighted, and then another detail about her came to light; that she was a practicing witch and high priestess of a coven. I had planned a story about a real witch living in a town adjacent to Salem at the time of the trials in 1692. In the months that followed, I received a first hand education on not only witchcraft and Wicca, but also, stones, gems, oils, cauldrons, spells, circles, new moon intentions, candles and deities. I learned that she was well versed in all religions and knew her Gods and Goddesses backward and forward. I came to appreciate a deeper understanding of what signs to watch for in life, and got a hell of a story out of it (Under the Blood Moon, yet to find a home). 

I was on my way into the esoteric path that I so fervently desired.





05/29/20

I remember my mindset very clearly when, in 2005, I began writing as a serious business and a vocation for the rest of my life. Physically, as far as where I was going to be spending my time, I was thinking that when it came to life, I was sick and tired of being a person working at things that held no sway for me. I wanted to go back to the feeling I had working in the Theater, that I knew what I wanted, that I was taking part in life, that I was collaborating and creating. The feeling that I was not just being a cog in the daily machine of industry, only to come home and be a consumer. In this case a consumer of entertainment; a watcher.

I made the decision that I was no longer interested in being a watcher, but wanted to become a doer. I wanted to take part in life to the fullest, and transfer those feelings into my written work in order to pass it on to people. I don't mean zip-lining hundreds of feet above the Amazon forest, I mean by observing what is going on with people past and present and trying to report on it through fiction. Not only for the readers at hand, but for future generations as well.

No one can know how that goal of longevity might turn out, but I did know that I at least had to try. "There is no comparison between that which is lost by not succeeding, and that which is lost by not trying." Even though that's the quote I chose for my High School yearbook, it's the quote that resonates with me. I just wrote it by heart, it's still with me.

So that is of utmost importance to me, that my work reach as many people as possible, and that my voice may be heard in the time after I cease to exist. I am serious. When I began to write, I was not sure I even had a voice that was palpable and distinctive, but yes, I have now realized fully that I do and I have found it. The fates be praised I have found it, and I am continuing the process of trying to get it into your ears, into your eyes, and to those who come after you.

Can you imagine being able to have future human beings, whatever form they may take,  look back on your work as we look back on Walt Whitman, and having Walt Whitman speak back to you- 





05/23/20

I'm thinking about how I've come to this point in my writing life. In 2005 I was sick and tired of working at things that only held a peripheral interest to me. I had done human services on and off for twenty years, but most importantly was coming off a thirty year career in the theater. Hours upon days of rehearsals in a professional company, tearing apart scripts and trying to get at what truth about life these plays contained.
All I could ever think about was how much I wanted to make my own scripts, tell my own stories and how much I wanted only to pursue the form of my two biggest influences, The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits. These happened to be the two shows of my youth that most resonated with me, using the unknown and the dark realms to quantify what goes on in real life. Making the people in the stories as relatable as possible, hell, they could be your family, friends or neighbors. Putting them into situations that may never really occur and seeing how they dealt with them.

I took a great risk, of losing all financial support and whatever I thought my place may be in the outside world of work and human congress. But I knew that I was suffering, wilting on the vine, not letting my creativity out and loosed upon the world. Something had to give, and I decided to write. I have already extensively outlined the encouragement I received to that end throughout my life in a blog, Book of Shadows, which I have re-posted on Facebook: 


From the beginning, I haven't been able to fight down intense and deep-seated feelings, which many would consider old-fashioned, of wanting to handle my writing in a way that is anathema to many of my current colleagues, compatriots and acquaintances in the writing, and especially genre writing, fields. I want to maintain a sense of mystery to my accomplishments for one thing, never posting word counts or thoughts or degrees of fulfillment toward my writing goals, whether I had a good or bad writing day and what not. I feel most people are interested in your finished product and what you were able to do with that product. I am an entertainment junkie, but a thorough examination of the Film Directing style of say, Robert Eggars, is a discussion that would lose most of my real life friends and family. More on that as we go.

So this journal goes against everything I've struggled to keep hidden from the casual reader, but for my fellow artists, I hope it may help you get a closer grip on what you are after, and what you hope to accomplish. In future I will be laying it all out for you. If you follow me, you may be as mad as I am.




Richard Alan Scott has labored for a half-century in The Arts. He is the school recipient of the Congressman's Medal of Merit and the American College Theater Award of Excellence for acting, presented him at The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. He worked for a decade as an actor under Robert J. Colonna at The Rhode Island Shakespeare Theater and as actor and Stage Manager under Adrian Hall and Richard Jenkins at the Tony-winning Providence Company; Trinity Rep. He is a thirty-year member of the Actors Equity Association, as well as a fifteen year member of the New England Horror Writers. He has been a writing member of the acclaimed RI Writers Circle and the Newport Round Table. As a writer he has studied under Christopher Golden and James A. Moore at River City Writers and at Boston's Grub Street. His work has appeared in Premiere Magazine, Shroud: The National Journal of Dark Fiction and Art, and Albedo One: Ireland's top genre magazine, as well as the anthology Walls and Bridges edited by Mark Ellis and Melissa Martin-Ellis. He has finished two novels that are being promoted to agents and he lives in rural Rhode Island.

You can learn more about Richard at his website: https://richardalanscott.com/

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