So you can read my books

Saturday, July 14, 2012

NO GRAVES IN THE SHADOWLANDS_Ghost of Raymond Chandler here

A long time ago in a blogverse far away ...

I wrote a blog serial, GHOST OF A CHANCE,

Its first chapter:

where I found myself on the run in my own prose universe. Each post depicted a page from the seared journal that the ghost of Mark Twain found, the only clue to my ultimate fate.

Here is a post from GHOST OF A CHANCE written by the ghost of Raymond Chandler with a few tips for writers of any age:

{"If two people love each other there can be no happy end to it."
— Ernest Hemingway.}

Chandler here. Raymond Chandler. Or rather his ghost.

I started with that quote from Hemingway because it was too damned appropriate not to.

Some of you are dropping in, expecting to read something from Roland. He’s been on the run in the Shadowlands, falsely accused of the murder of Hemingway’s ghost.

The same ghost who has been laughing up his sleeve here in Roland’s apartment, pontificating on how to write good literature. Apparently, he forgot how to live a good life or be a good friend.

No, he was too jealous of how the ghost of Marlene Dietrich felt about Roland.

He’s been rubbing his hands in pure joy as the ghosts closed in for revenge and others in the darkness bayed at the kid’s heels, seeking to tear the secret of how to kill ghosts from him.

Now, where is Hemingway? On his way to Hell if there's any justice. But there isn't.

Word in the Shadowlands is that he is just walking aimlessly into the darkness, his eyes deep holes into nothingness.

I only have the cold comfort that I knocked him on his arrogant ghost-butt. How did a Hollywood hack like me do that? Easy. I cheated.

I surprised him. I walked into Roland's apartment looking clean, neat, and sober, smiling my best "ain't we chums?" smile. Then, I let him have it with the blackjack in my fist.

He went down hard. Not hard enough.

"Good news, boxer," I grunted. "Word in the Shadowlands is that Roland's dead. Died in the arms of Marlene."

His eyes fought to focus. "Is she --"

"Yeah, hero. She's dead, too. Killed by the one who poisoned you. I hope you're --"

I didn't get the chance to finish. The most godawful yowling came from the head of Roland's bed. Then, I saw her -

Gypsy, his ghost cat, all covered in sand. I could have sworn she hadn't been there when I first came in.

Her head was reared back, her eyes full of tears. Hell, his cat was crying. Crying.

And Gypsy howled like her guts were being cut out of her. I can hear it still. It seemed to go on forever.

I pray to God I never hear such a sound again. She stopped abruptly and looked at me with eyes gone sick and insane.

Then she just slowly faded away into the darkness like an old photograph left out too long in the sun. I shivered. And I knew. I knew.

I would never see his cat again.

I turned to Hemingway as he struggled to his feet, and I managed to get out the words. "Roland trusted you."

My grief and anger were battling so inside my heart, it felt as if I was standing outside myself. "You hid in his apartment, knowing he was being blamed for your murder, knowing he was being hunted by things that would make a pit bull puke."

I realized I was literally shaking with my anger. "You could have stopped this. You should have."

He turned hollow eyes to me. "Right on both counts."

And with that he walked out through Roland's door. And I knew something else. I would never see him again either.

So here I am, sitting in the dark at Roland's laptop. What do I write that would express just what the kid meant to me? It's all too fresh. I - I can't.

There are no graves in the Shadowlands. No place where I can lay one black rose. To die there is to disappear utterly both body and spirit. But I have to do something. Something.

What I will do is reach out to you, his friends. He wrote to you, trying as best he could to help you write better.

So that is what I'll do. Just a short post. I don't have a long one in me.

Besides, I'm not sure how delicate this thing is -- if tears on the keyboard will short something out or not.

All right. I'm a big boy. I can do this.

Where to start?

Rules. Most struggling writers think there are mysterious magic rules out there that if followed will insure success.

There aren't. But I'll give them to you, anyway.

Rule #1 :
The most durable thing in writing is style. I had mine. Hemingway had his. We're both imitated.

Be inspired by your favorite authors but leave them be. Keep the original. Lose the copy. Be yourself. But a self that grows each day.

Rule #2 :
Unlike the age of Jane Austin, this age is not remote. It is as intimate as a lonely heart and as intense as the bill collector over your phone.

Do not cliche your words. Brutality is not strength. Flipness is not wit. Do not mistake cool for character, attitude for competence.

It is not funny that a man is killed. But it is sometimes funny that he should be killed for so little, and that his death should be the coin of what we call civilization.

Rule #3 :
It's the journey, the struggles of the hero that grab the reader and keep him turning the pages. Make the hero sweat. But let him get the girl. Even Roland -- no, I won't go there. I can't.

Rule #4 :
Pull your nose from the computer keyboard and live life -- don't just write about it. Tasting each drink, feeling each breeze, touching the soft skin of the woman who loves you and only you.

God, I hope Roland did that with Marlene ...

if only for a moment.

Sorry, you don't need to read an old ghost's keening.

Rule #5 :
Remember that human nature has learned nothing over the centuries, yet has forgotten nothing either. Men do things for reasons.

Your characters, if they are to be believed, must do so, too. You cannot shove them into actions that your prior words would not imply they would take.

Yet human nature is fickle : a man who is steel in the fires of adversity will melt at the glance of a pair of ice blue eyes. Eyes like Marlene had ....

Sorry ... that ... that is all I have the heart for.

I will sit out on Roland's terrace now and look out as the night fog slips away from the bordering bayou.

The rains are over. The fields are green.

And with my ghost eyes I will look out over the vastness of America to the Hollywood Hills and see snow on the high mountains.

The fur stores will be advertising their annual sales. The call houses that specialize in sixteen year-old virgins will be doing a land-office business. In Beverly Hills the jacaranda trees will be beginning to bloom.

And none of that will matter ... for my friend is dead.

The French have a saying that to say good-bye is to die a little. They are right. I am a ghost, and I thought I was past feeling dead inside. I was wrong.

I think I will always see him driving down lonely roads, sitting in lonely rooms, saddened but never quite defeated.

Down those mean streets he went who was not himself mean, who was neither tarnished nor afraid ... only mortal.

I will miss you, my friend.
He liked this prayer, so I will end with it:

No comments:

Post a Comment