The Art of Dialogue: “You Talking to Me?”

The best thing about my writing is the dialogue. It flows.

“Who says that?”

I watch how people interact. I listen to how they speak.

“And?”

And so I replicate that interaction. I make it sound real.

“You know something I realized?”

Should I identify you as a voice?

“Covid’s always been here.” The disembodied voice was both gruff and shrill. “It’s not a new thing.”

Cross-talking. That’s one of my things.

“We just found out about it now. That’s all. That’s it. But it’s always been here.”

That’s when one person is talking about one thing, and the other one talks about another, and they barely listen to each other, if at all.

“I had Covid.” The voice was irritated now, probably because it wasn’t being listened to like it wanted. “I was one of the first. I went to a bar in Rhode Island. The whole state had it two weeks after that.”

My editor said that it doesn’t work.

“What doesn’t work? I’m telling you I was Case Fucking A in Rhode Island.”

Cross-talk. He says that the reader doesn’t like it because they have to do too much work to figure it out.

“I don’t know who the hell your editor is, but I agree with him.”

I had a feeling you would say something like that.

“If you listened for half of a second, you might maybe understand half of one thing. Covid is a thing, all right. But it’s just one thing. I mean, they say it’s 19, but I bet you there’s been 2,000 of them already.”

2,000 what? 2,000 people you infected?

“Covids, man! Strands, all strands of the same thing!”

What is that based on? You know anything about biology?

“It’s not just humans and plants. It’s everything, the water, the air, the fucking cosmos.”

You lost me.

“You know how I know you’re full of shit?” The voice paced back and forth behind me, always on the side I couldn’t see. “You got nothing published. Zilch, zero, nida.”

Nada.

“A great big fucking goose egg, am I right?”

Published books?

“You got something out there I can read? Something I can actually hold in my hands?”

You can’t actually hold words in your hands.

“Actually? You really going to use that word twice?”

Uh, well, you said it, and then I–

“Yes?” It was breathing down my neck. “Or no?”

I thought about saying nothing but I knew that wouldn’t work. No. I said that.

“Ah-ha!” It had gone to the far edge of the room, almost out the apartment. I expected to hear the door close. But it didn’t.

It’s not like I’m not aware of that.

“My point is that–“

I know, I know. Covid’s always been here.

“If you’ve never been published, how can you have an editor? That’s my point, Einstein.”

I hired him. I paid him to read my book.

“Why the fuck…?” It chuckled or scoffed, something derisive. “You paid him to tell you that you can’t write? That is so fucked up.”

Don’t you read my blog? I wrote about all of this two weeks ago.

“You writing about Covid?”

Covid? Why would I write about Covid?

“And why would I read your blog?”

Well, I write about what I’ve done during the pandemic, things I’ve read, how Covid has affected me.

“Trump’s fucked. I tell you that.”

What?

“That fucker, Trump.” The voice almost came into view. “He’s done.”

Well, at least we can agree on that.

“You should get him to sell your book. What about that? You could work out some kind of weird deal with him or something.” The voice faded.

Signed in blood. Is that what you mean?

There was no response.

My Editor’s Supervisor Too

The supreme editor decided to get in on the critical action: Master McPhedran; I’m writing to you because I know there’s a lot to handle with this radioactive material, but I hope you haven’t continued to think of it as being guided by a passion for a different style of writing. Andy spends a lot of time teaching in the letter, giving examples from other works to showcase a point, or explaining literary construction to the author. He does this very well (I’ve seen it go sideways before!) in that he comes off as very experienced, well-read and knowledgeable but never veers into talking down to the author. I know this is not particularly helpful to you. I was sorry to hear that the phone call wasn’t as fruitful as expected.

EXIF_HDL_ID_1

I replied with vague decorum: Thank you for the email, Bridget. I understand and appreciate your references to radioactive material and your efforts to connect Andy’s edit to what it could mean to my work. I don’t agree, however, with the idea of it being a lot to handle or offering effective teaching. (I cringed at that, as I did at the image of Andy being thankful at my listening to ‘some’ of his guidance.) You have an enterprise to run, and the first order is to support the staff. The point is that Andy’s notes do not benefit my process. It isn’t personal. It is about the words. And sadly, in the end, the feedback is worth the same as I might get from a bartender – not to denigrate her. 

I am not expecting a response.