returning to failed projects so that I might understand the failures

Monday, August 18, 2014

In between reading and thinking, cleaning and restoring the house, and trying new recipes out on friends who accept the dare, I am reading the work of yesteryears—the pages upon pages that were never published. What went wrong? What must I not do again as I ponder the possibility of new stories?

Sometimes I find passages, written as fiction, that return me to real life. Here is a boy and the paragraph I wrote for him inside a novel I never published. The place is San Miguel.
Nothing was neutral in San Miguel.  The place was full of opinions—the murmur of fountains behind padlocked doors, the inscription of grills high on windows, the casual flamboyance of the mariachi men, the coruscation, in the distance, of abandoned mining towns.  The lintels above the ornate doors were carved with news of vanished families, rose spires pierced the sky, the smoke of the helotes carts was weather, and every day a boy wearing a yellow cabled sweater and shiny shoes carried a moose puppet across the cobbles of the town.
 “Where do you think he’s going?"
“I don’t know.”
“What do you think he wants?”

The failure here? The static quality of the dialogue. Too much like a poem, which is not how real people speak.


Serena said...

Wouldn't it be interesting if people did speak in poetry?

Joanne R. Fritz said...

Who was it who first said there is no such thing as failure? I know Sid Fleischman said, "Nothing is wasted except the paper."

I wouldn't call that gorgeous writing a failure. So the dialogue needs to be livened up. So what? Hope you'll go back to that novel someday, Beth.

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