My eyeballs felt as if someone had tried to peel them like an onion. Actually, it might have been with an onion they were stinging so much. Does terror from staring at a computer screen cause sore eyes? It was no use, it did not matter how long I glazed over at the manuscript of “Mulgrave Castle”, I was not feeling spooky, Victorian or psychic. For a second, I played with the idea that somewhere on the internet there could be a sort of Viagra for writers which instead of making them feel sexy sort of erected the atmosphere they were meant to be in. I didn’t think there would be one and one has to be so careful what one searches for these days.
In a state of desperation, I went from staring at the computer screen to staring out of the window. I overlook a graveyard and a six hundred year church. It all looked spooky and I thought I could stare at that to get in the mood. Not so, suddenly car after car arrived on the car park. The next thing was that a gang of energetic, octogenarian walkers all had their car boots up whilst they took their flasks of coffee out and started drinking and socialising before their walk. It then occurred to me that I could make some film clips of a graveyard and that might be helpful in summoning up atmosphere anytime I am working on “Mulgrave Castle”.
I grabbed my video camera but couldn’t film at the graveyard next to me as the gang had now taken sandwiches out of their car boots and seemed to be settling down for the day. After thinking up an elaborate plan to get rid of them, I decided that dressing up in my Loony Literature gear and brandishing a large bell whilst shouting “plague” might not actually work.
I glared some more out of the window and then decided to go to a nearby market town and film there. I didn’t want to look conspicuous hanging around a graveyard alone so I asked my mother if she fancied going out for hot chocolate. As she is under five feet tall, just under eighty and looks charmingly innocent, I thought she was the perfect lookout for me.
All was going well, apart from my mother complaining about the lack of hot chocolate, until an elderly man with white, curly whiskers around his chin and leading a similar looking dog tried to cross examine me.
“You one of them family historians then?” Both dog and man stared at me whilst they waited for a reply. I was relieved that I didn’t have to lie, after all, I do do family history, I just wasn’t doing it then. I nodded and waited for him to pass by.
“Who you looking for then?” Both the man and the dog moved closer. I would never make a spy, I stammered and stumbled and said “we’ve found nothing.” He shrugged and I expected him to move on but he still watched us. I linked my arm through my mother’s and we slowly walked away from the graveyard and then I slyly turned to see if the dog walker had moved on. He didn’t, he watched us as we walked away but then he bent down to talk to his terrier and at that moment I grabbed my mother by the arm and we hid behind a tree and waited for him to go. He looked up and shrugged in a disappointed manner and slowly moved away.
We hotfooted it back to the graveyard and I quickly did my filming in case the dog walker found me there again on his way back. I was extremely pleased with myself as I thought my graveyard filming was done with, I simply had to put it on the laptop and it was ready for use – until I looked at it. The clip is fine until it comes to second twenty seven and then there seems to be a man only from his torso (legs must be in the earth) with his head bent praying by the side of one of the graves. I examined the clip but could not come up with what it could really be.
A week later, I decided that I would return to the spot to try to see what I had photographed and take some still shots of the spot. Four teenagers, without coats, were sitting right by my spot, hanging out. I had to decide whether to continue with my photography or just pretend to be walking past. I decided to pretend that they weren’t there. I examined the spot from all angles making sure that each headstone was where I thought it was. I could not see what could possibly represent the image on the film. I took my video camera from my bag and somehow it had become as dead as a parish council meeting on a Saturday night. I quickly put it away and tried not to look at the teenagers who, I could see out of the corner of my eye, were all sitting in a line staring at me. Luckily, I had my son’s camera with me as a backup, so I quickly took that out and tried to switch it on – dead. I poked the on button and prodded it frantically. The teenagers had moved closer but I could not contain my enthusiastic and violent prods onto the camera. Nothing happened. I lifted my head proudly and with a majestic air swept past the viewing teenagers with my mother following swiftly behind. How both batteries on both cameras came to be so dead, I will never know. My video camera had one hundred minutes on it when I checked the night before.
The following Saturday I made sure that both cameras were fully charged when I set out. I managed to take photographs without an audience but I cannot find out what the shape is in the video. After all that, I’ve decided that maybe I should try something else to conjure up atmosphere. Haunted castle anyone?
- Writing – Using Real People in Fiction Can Spell Trouble! (loonyliterature.com)
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16 responses to “Diary of a Writer – Graveyards.”
I can see exactly what you’re talking about but I notice as the camera continues panning that the image seems to shift slightly. Could it have been some well-placed shadows?
BTW, I think the graveyard looks lovely and peaceful. Wish it was more spooky for you!
I am open to interpretation on this one. I have been back quite a few times and taken lots of photos and filmed it but I don’t know – I’m sort of just scratching my head really. I like rational explanations.
It looks lovely and peaceful that day but I went there again last Saturday to film and it was cold, dark and windy and it felt a bit spooky then. It is lovely with a very old church which has parts of it dating back to the Norman period it is now a museum displaying all the bones they have dug up.
Umm, did you notice that face in the tree at the very end of your video???
Oh no, I didn’t. I’ll have to have a look. I don’t think I noticed anything after seeing the man by the grave. I wish that I knew how to circle videos so that I could point it out. I’ll have a look.
I’ve just watched it again and I can’t believe how the light has done that – I don’t think I could manage that again in a million years even if I tried.
Hey I noticed that too! How awesome! Mwahahahaha! 😉
I think the moral of this story is that we should be careful where we point our cameras.
Now that’s spooky!
Well, you will go to the graveyard when the birdies are tweeting, the sun is shining and it’s generally a loverly day! Spooky is as spooky does…try a rainy day, when the storm clouds rush across the heavens and the wind knocks you off your feet. Hey presto, you have spookiness in a bottle.
YOU the viewer have to feel uncomfortable to take truly uncomfortable pics, meaning as long as you remain in your comfort zone, you won’t really bag it. As a writer, when you want to get into spooky mood, try writing in a cold room, withdraw all creature comforts, go into the basement or into the attic, where the house creaks and expresses mean, musty, murderous thoughts of revenge against its owner.
Neglected corners in railway stations are equally good, where it smells of urine and discarded tickets flutter across the tarmac…telling a sad and ghostly tale of their own.
Or do your tax return instead.
Why not indeed!
You know you can get had for loitering with intent!!! 🙂 xx The lengths some people will go to to get famous!
As soon as we try to do something, people turn up by the truckload whereas normally there’s no-one about.
Oooh, thank you Michelle, for that clip. I feel more inspired to work on my novel now. You wouldn’t be able to recreate a 19th century London opium den by any chance? Or am I asking too much? 😛
Oh, if only I had a time machine. The novel sounds intriguing.
I felt a great sense of peace when I saw the man sitting by the grave don’t know why.
The light on the tree at the end looks more like a lions face.
I found that really fascinating, I was not aware of him when I was filming and therefore, I know that he wasn’t an angry spirit as I think they are felt more obviously. When you next come to England, we can go there and see what you think.