That way I can take comfort in the fact that while in this universe I am sitting at my desk still staring at one line of tepid prose I wrote three hours ago, in an alternate universe Successful Me just received a nice email from Neil Gaiman, wherein he tells Successful Me how much he loves my stories and wouldn’t it be great if we could work on a joint writing project. A film, perhaps. And how we could probably talk Mark Gatiss into joining as well.
Way to go, Alternate Universe Me. You rock.
- I finally cleared the rights to use the piece of music I want for the Children of Abraham trailer this summer. It took me forever to navigate that shit. It will cost me way more than I want to spend, but far less than I expected.
- Lit agents are supposed to help you stay focused on the project at hand. Mine keeps encouraging me to work on two other things while I finish CoA. She thinks I have the chops to write a non-fiction book based on a concept I threw at her a few months ago, but I don’t think I do. I also think I’m gonna lose that fight, so we’ll see.
- Speaking of the CoA trailer, I lost my producer, so I’m going to have to start searching for a new one, and it will probably push the shoot into late May. I have someone in mind, but I also know he won’t work for free at this point, and I’m way over budget as it is. (I’m also still looking for a storyboard artist for a few final shots - if anyone wants to take a whack at it [unpaid], let me know.)
- It’s hard to stay focused and energized and motivated when the weather still sucks so hard. It was -8ºF when I woke up this morning; the coldest March day ever recorded here in the ROC. Ugh. I need a day or two above freezing, please. This cold is sapping my energy so badly.
- If you want to lose weight in a hurry, I highly recommend getting a norovirus: I’ve lost nine pounds since last Saturday.
- Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
- Never us a long word where a short one will do.
- If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
- Never use the passive where you can use the active.
- Never use a foreign phrase, scientific word, or jargon if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
- Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.
- You must write.
- Finish what you start.
- You must refrain from rewriting, except to editorial order.
- You must put your story on the market.
- You must keep it on the market until it has sold.
- Start working on something else.
“Cake and coffee in the conference room, Jack,” that fucking little piss-ant Andy says as he sticks his head into my office.
I served my goddamn country for over forty years, risking my life for the Company nearly every fucking day, and they celebrate my retirement with cake. How quaint.
I shove a couple more framed photos into the cardboard box; a 12x12x24 testament to a life led in secret. Things used to be different here. Our work used to mean something. We paid for information with sweat. And blood.
I get to the conference room and already the college boy pedants are chatting it up. They all think they know so fucking much, but not one of them has ever seen real field work. You can toy around with computers and gizmos all day, but that’s still not playing The Great Game. Sit at a cafe table in some godforsaken Eastern Bloc city, smoking shitty Soviet cigarettes and chatting like best buddies with the man across from you, knowing that only one of you is going home alive? Now that’s playing the game.
“…and I was like, fuck, Jerry, you’ve been looking at the sat shots all afternoon and even I could spot the trucks near the… Oh, hey Jack,”
“Andy. Francis. Pete,” I greet each of the boys there, talking among themselves. And Jesus, they are boys. Did they recruit these kids right out of Cub Scouts? Fuck.
“Jack, I was just telling the guys about how we spotted those Taliban ammo trucks two clicks from Kabul on the sat photos, and…”
I laugh right at him. What a fucking punk.
“Sat photos?” I laugh again. “Andy, let me tell you what real covert work is. There was one mission in Prague in sixty-three, and this KGB guy had been tailing me for…”
“Yeah, okay Jack,” Francis says, with a patronizing clap on my shoulder, “we know all about the Good Old Days.”
“Sorry fellas,” I say, “it’s just that, you know, things were different then. We didn’t have all the computers and satellites and crap. We had to go out there and–”
“Yeah, we know, Jack.”
“Yeah.. okay.. you know. You know it all,” I mumble, and excuse myself for the moment.
I head back to my office, close the door behind me. In the bottom desk drawer is my service pistol, the same one I’ve had since the 50’s, my old Colt revolver – not one of those slick black SIG-Sauers they issue to the new kids nowadays.
I chamber one round, and sit down in my chair.
It’s time for this old man to retire.