While it wasn’t successful or popular, “Caffeine Cinema” remains one of my favorite things I’ve ever written. Too short to be a novel, and WAY too long to be a short story, “Caffeine Cinema” falls into the category of “novelette.” And believe me, I would’ve made it shorter if I could. But at the time, I had something to say and not enough experience to be concise about it.
Reading it now, my editor’s eye is going crazy. It’s pretty rough by my current standards. Thing is, while I could go back and do some rewrites, that’s no way to grow as a writer. Revisiting your old stuff might be great for the analytical part of your mind, but your creative mind will atrophy. Look at George Lucas. He spent so much time tinkering with the Original Trilogy that by the time he got around to making the Prequels, he was still the same amateur filmmaker. I could go on for hours about that, but suffice it to say I don’t intend to make the same mistake. “Caffeine Cinema” is finished.
And you know what? I think it’s pretty good. The story is a personal one, though it’s mostly fictional. Eddie, the main character, isn’t quite me, but the sort of “me” I would’ve been if I’d have known better at the age. Eddie, in the story, starts to feel stalled in his life as a theater projectionist. At his age, I was indeed a theater projectionist, but I wasn’t smart enough to feel stalled. Eddie does something with his life. I didn’t, not for a while.
None of the other characters are based on anyone. There is, however, a certain situation in the story that is taken straight from my life: the morning of September 11th, 2001. In the story, Eddie’s dad alerts him with a phone call to tell him what’s going on. I was still living at home, so my dad just needed to bang on my door. I remember that day well. It was the first time I ever really thought about the future. And I was scared. It’s still a horrifying thing to think about. I thought writing about it would help. It didn’t.
The cover for “Caffeine Cinema” was created by my brother Chris Claflin. I did attempt to make my own cover, but it turned out really, really bad, and I refuse to share it with the world. Chris has done covers for other books, and you can learn all about that on his webpage. For “Caffeine Cinema,” he worked from his own concept based on reading the story. I don’t think I needed to provide him much direction. In the end, I think I got a pretty sweet cover.
I tried selling it for $0.99 and ended up with exactly one sale. To a friend. Who I don’t think read it. I decided to just make it free in the hopes that people would read it. Since then, it’s been downloaded plenty, though I’d LOVE it if more people gave it a read. It clocks in at just under 15,000 words. Y’all could read that during the morning bus commute. Some people who read “Caffeine Cinema” said it made them cry. I guess that’s not a bad thing. Wanna see if you still feel anything? You can read “Caffeine Cinema” for free, either by getting it for tablets/e-readers from Smashwords, or by downloading the PDF right here, no signups or anything needed. And let me know what you think of it.