Monday, June 13, 2011

"How I Came to Write This Story" Jed Ayres

(Jed on left with Kieran Shea and Wallace Stroby at Noircon)

HOW I CAME TO WRITE THIS STORY

Once upon a time, I wrote a movie. A kick-ass crime saga set in the hellish wilds of Mexico. Think Sam Peckinpah and Jim Thompson. Think William Friedkin’s Sorcerer and David Milch’s Deadwood. Hardboiled and heartwrenching, soul crushing and spirit churning. That was the movie I wrote.

Then the movie got made.

Which is not something to complain about. You know, there’s a long, proud tradition of writers bitching about movies made from their material that I’ll uh… not be taking part in here. I’m proud of the film because it was damned difficult to make. Really, just a marathon of suck, a tsunami of bullshit and petty crime and infidelity that I’m entirely pleased with myself and everybody else involved for surviving. Buuuuut… it really isn’t the film I set out to write. In fact, during the making of that film, I was re-writing (the whole damn thing) daily just to make it cohesive. (http://www.riverfronttimes.com/2008-07-16/film/dark-night-this-kingdom-is-built-on-sneaky-filming-in-the-florida-keys/ )

The movie is the movie is the movie, but when it was all through, I realized that I still had this story that I hadn’t succeeded in telling, and I wanted to tell it. Still. Not only that, but I’d just become aware of a little publication called Murdaland which was a dangerous trip right down my scary little alley and what do you know, they were accepting submissions for their next issue for another two weeks.

I’d never written a short story before, but I knew I wanted to be part of this moment in crime, so I cranked out yet another version of my story, really sharpened the focus, cut everything extraneous and in ten days had poured my skeevy little heart into several drafts of that thing and it still wasn’t clicking. I switched the POV back and forth from first to third a half dozen times before splitting the difference with second, (still the only time I’ve used the second person) and found that it worked - forced my giant idea into a very focused channel.

Murdaland rejected it.

Three times.

With an ever escalating pitch.

Looking back, they were right to. It was maybe too on the nose hardboiled for them, (they liked to come at the crime thing from weird angles) but my persistence paid off. People I admired like Ken Bruen, Scott Phillips, Jason Starr, Craig McDonald and Murdaland editor Michael Langnas all read it and did something no had ever done for me before – they took me seriously, (or it felt like they did anyhow) – and that made all the difference in the world.

Through those generous cats whose doorstep I’d flung my little flaming literary turd bag upon and had had the patience to answer the bell, stamp out the fire, clean off their shoes and meet the eyes of the kid hiding in the bushes with something less than utter contempt, I found the whole online publishing realm and a suitable foster home for my hard-knock bastard with Todd Robinson at Thuglit. He even placed it in a book alongside some heroes of mine and damned if that didn’t swell my head even more.

The book is called Sex, Thugs and Rock & Roll. My story is called "Politoburg." It’s not available for free anymore, but if you have money you could go buy a copy.

And that’s the story of how I became such a big shot prick.

21 comments:

Paul D. Brazill said...

Smashing!

Sean Patrick Reardon said...

Thanks for posting this and I also enjoyed reading the Riverfront times article. A documentary on the fiming process would be awesome to see.

jedidiah ayres said...

Sean - just go watch Spinal Tap, Hearts of Darkness and American Movie back to back to back and you'll have a pretty good feel for it

Sean Patrick Reardon said...

Cool. Just watched a trailer I found online for Mosquito Kingdom. Looked awesome!

jedidiah ayres said...

Stop while you're ahead

Charles Gramlich said...

When it comes to writing for movies I have no clue. maybe that's true of writing in general. :)

Keith Rawson said...

Politoburg gets me all sweaty...great story, great post

pattinase (abbott) said...

Still waiting for your saga, Keith.

Margot Kinberg said...

Patti - Thanks for hosting Jed.

Jed - I know exactly what you mean about being taken seriously. That really does make all the difference in the world, and it makes you work even harder to get something right.

jedidiah ayres said...

Did anybody notice that Patti was published in both print venues I mentioned in the piece, Murdaland and Sex, Thugs & Rock and Roll?

Margot - I'm still waiting for my family to take me seriously... they're the hardest to win over

pattinase (abbott) said...

And I am still waiting for my family to take me seriously. I have been waiting a lot longer.

Keith Rawson said...

Mine's right here, Patti:
http://pattinase.blogspot.com/2011/05/how-i-came-to-write-this-story-keith.html

pattinase (abbott) said...

Forgot to cross you off the list. See what you have to look forward to in old age.

jedidiah ayres said...

Wait, Patti... there's a list? And Keith was higher on it than I was? WTF? 10 kinds of confused and hurt right about now.

pattinase (abbott) said...

It's a calendar more than a list. You don't think I can keep this or anything in my head, do you?

Keith Rawson said...

Suck it, Ayres! BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! (Kidding, Kidding...)

Dorte H said...

Ha, I´d never have thought about that: they film my story, and I can write the real story again :D

Wait a minute - I´ll have to write something first they want to film? I knew there was a catch.

Nevertheless, great post.

Don Lafferty said...

I've been wondering. I'll sleep much better tonight.

jedidiah ayres said...

Dorte - yeah, the gist being that the MOVIE had changed the SCRIPT so much that there was hardly any overlap in STORY. Just let them try and sue

Scott Phillips said...

Don't forget "Fitzcarraldo."

Grant Jerkins said...

I checked out the trailer, and I really really really really really want a cigarette.