“Scales” by JJ Robinson
“If you are doing something that you are entirely comfortable with, that is probably because you have done it before. Or somebody else has done it before. So there is actually little point in doing it again. Always take on incredibly difficult and hard projects that will probably be the ruin of you.”
It was this quote which kept metaphorically punching me in the face when I was initially asked to contribute to ‘The Geeky Book of Horror’. What could I write to convey horror that perhaps has not been written before? (“Perhaps” being a caveat, as at this juncture omnipotence is not a feature I contain within my locker...however, one lives in existential hope!)How would I go about doing this without falling into clichéd, comfortable, ultimately palatable sated traps?
I came to the conclusion I had to write on a deeply personal level about that which terrifies me the most...loss.
Ball Park...the loss of family, specifically... the loss of a partner, the loss of children...How would I imagine that felt? Whatever, this was going to be a piece of cake. I mean how difficult could it be right? It’s not as if any of it is real!
And from this was born the script “Scales”.
Although the story and the situation are from a fictional concept, I still wanted to make it as real as I possibly could while trying to elicit an emotional response from the reader. In order for that emotion to be grounded I would have to put myself into that pitch blackened place and draw from my own loss, no problem.
After writing this ‘easy’ assignment for a couple of days, this is from a mail I sent over to Vic at Geeky:
“On panel 15 today, I've stopped writing....because what I'm writing makes me incredibly sad. It makes me question myself about where this darkness could so easily crawl from."
To write the script and to be in the headspace I inhabited became incredibly distressing and had me cast adrift from my comfort zone, which became so far distant I wasn’t sure whether it existed any more. Never the less the day after writing to Vic I decided to finish the script, no... I needed to finish the script. And I am so glad I did, because something quite wonderful and uplifting happened. The story got away from me, it was no longer mine to complete. As It began growing organically (ok, here comes a clichéd bit I was trying to avoid) it took on a life of its own and started to write it’s self!
While hurtling towards its heavy doom laden conclusion, from out of nowhere the story suddenly took a sharp and unexpected turn. The bleak claustrophobic pages began opening themselves upwards and outwards, letting in the light to bring about an ending I neither plotted nor indeed foresaw.
I had found beauty whilst playing with monsters.
As I’ve said previously the story comes from a very personal place...But having spoken with people since, I now believe this not to be the case. It’s not personal at all...it’s a place we all share...a place we all dread...a dark, raw, primeval place. We know it exists for others, we see it on the news, we read about it in the papers, but could never contemplate existing within it ourselves...Because down that dark constricting pathway, surely only madness lies?
Now for me...that’s horror.