Title: Personal Fiction

Takeaway: Fiction never personal.

Seat: Front

Logged: 12 Aug 15 (Wednesday in the PM)

Copyright:

Time: 1 minute

Replies: 23

Revisions: 17

Publicity: Superfeed

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You were an author. “It’s fiction, but it’s personal.” You were in the middle of writing a novel about dating, based on “my year of living gratefully.”

I asked you what was printed all over your dress. “Oh, they’re famous first lines.” Our conversation covered literature and fashion. You said your style was elegant, but modest. “Plain as in honest, not boring. I don’t need the spotlight. Just allow me some of the foreground.”

I asked you if your dress ever prompted any good conversations and if you identified with any of those first lines. In a reader’s voice, while looking down at yourself, you said, “In my younger and more vulnerable years, my father gave me some advice I’ve been turning over in my mind,” you paused between the last two words that curved over your shoulder, “ever . . . since.” We talked about your own father, who you said “always respected my point of view — something I get to share for a living now.”

At the end of the ride you introduced me to some characters in your life. I ran into them again one night down the road. They were having a Holden Caulfield bordering on Charlie Marlow kind of night — which pretty much makes it a Holden Caulfield kind of night.

When you turned to leave, I made out the line across your back: All this happened, more or less.

Revisions

Horse » Authorship
Horse » 3:05 PM 21 Jun 19
Horse » 2:17 PM 15 Feb 18
Elk » 2:49 PM 01 Jan 16
Horse » 2:13 PM 01 Jan 16
Horse » 12:21 AM 01 Jan 16
Horse » 12:10 AM 01 Jan 16
Elk » 11:06 PM 31 Dec 15
Elk » 4:59 PM 31 Dec 15
Horse » 4:38 PM 31 Dec 15
Horse » 4:32 PM 31 Dec 15
Horse » 4:16 PM 31 Dec 15
Elk » 9:35 AM 27 Dec 15
Elk » 6:57 PM 12 Aug 15
Horse » 3:29 PM 12 Aug 15
Horse » 3:22 PM 12 Aug 15

The Thread (23)

 Author's voice in grey. 

  1. I feel like this is an obligatory superfeed piece, but it needs a little Boston hook at the end. How or where or why does the driver see the friends again? Just one key line could seal it for the city.

  2. On Yawkey, which is notoriously fervent.

  3. I don’t take this as literally. The only city is Horse’s mind.

  4. Are you considering the piece in isolation, or as part of the city-specific campaign? I’m working strictly on the latter at this point. It’s a Boston affair — in fact and right now. But I like your thinking for the piece on a broader platform, universally seein’ them around the way.

  5. It was a Providence ride, and I saw some of them out and about at least twice, as is known to happen in PVD.

    Let me see how to figure out the resolution you seek.

  6. Fictionalize it — gimme deep Boston.

  7. I added in some things to create clarity and flow. I don’t have any vision about Boston coming to mind without it seeming forced. If anyone thinks it’s effective to put in actual place names, then that’s fine. But then every piece is going to need a name-drop. Back Bay. Central. Coolidge Corner. Etc.

  8. We certainly could drop certain pieces in certain places — but we also don’t need to name drop every piece just because it seems effective to touch up one piece with it.

  9. I like that the last line is now on the shirt. It wouldn’t be possible to know that unless you tell us.

  10. Made some edits — I wouldn’t mess with these too much. They’re mostly done. It’ll be hard to go over lots of edits all over again.

  11. Having a little trouble with this:

    In a reader’s voice, you said, “In my younger and more vulnerable years, my father gave me some advice I’ve been turning over in my mind,” the last two words winding over your shoulder and harder to read, “ever” and “since.”

    How does the father’s advice relate to one of the phrases on the dress? It doesn’t read correctly logically or grammatically, I don’t think.

    Also, this:

    You were in the midst of book inspired by “my year of gratefulness.”

    Confused by “book inspired.”

  12. Also, “some of which” should be “some of whom.”

  13. There we go — that’s what I’m talking about. Let’s whip these up.

  14. I addressed Bear’s notes, I think. But now that we’re in it, I think the piece is too loose. I can’t follow the rider from the shirt from the father. And I’m sure that’s part of the point, but I should know as a reader where the words are coming from. It shouldn’t be so totally opaque that I have to guess and then settle for whatever misaligned logic results from that.

  15. About to clean it up. Bear’s point about the logic was eating me up earlier, and I’m glad he pointed it out. Also, Elk, your “and” instead of the ellipsis won’t work. She was reading the end of the line as it curved around her shoulder, so slowed down when she said “Ever … since.”

  16. Much better, I’d say.

    I’d consider reworking this a bit more:

    In a reader’s voice, while looking down at yourself, you said, “In my younger and more vulnerable years, my father gave me some advice I’ve been turning over in my mind” the last two words curved over your shoulder and were harder to read, “ever … since.”

    Maybe this:

    In a reader’s voice, you looked down and said, “In my younger and more vulnerable years, my father gave me some advice I’ve been turning over in my mind,” craning your neck to read the last two words curving over your shoulder, “ever since.”

  17. I don’t get what “ever since” is referring to.

    Also, this series of words is borderline mumbojumbo:

    . . . to whom you were grateful for always allowing you “the opportunity to share my point of view,” which is something, “I get to do for a living now.”

    I don’t think “to whom” feels right, and you’re using “you” and “I” and “my” in the same sentence to refer to the same person, which is interesting given that you’re discussing point of view, but it reads like hell.

  18. “Ever since” is the end of the Nick Carraway quote she’s reading from her dress.

    Horse and I at one point discussed the quotes he’s using from the characters in these pieces. I think they read great in some places but not others. This one you’re pointing out, Elk, given the shifting perspective in the same sentence, might be an “other” case.

    But actually, rereading it, I don’t mind it too much. The shifts seem logical enough to me. Suppose Horse could continue working at it. No harm in that.

  19. Can’t wrap my head around Elk’s problem with “ever since.” In terms of mumbojumbo, that line has some thick and rocky syntax. It could be smoothed out.

    I took away Caraway, though I’m curious to know if anyone liked his name squeezed in somehow. The line, “Plain as in honest, not boring. I don’t need the spotlight. Just allow me some of the foreground,” is about the rider but is also about Caraway.

    I also cleaned up some syntax.

  20. Made changes — that’s how I’d do it.

    Why is the last line italicized but the others are quoted?

    And is “ever since” the end of a line? Do the words appear side by side or is there something between? I just don’t get why you’d end a line with “ever since.” It’s a beginning, not an end.

  21. This is the Carraway quote:

    In my younger and more vulnerable years, my father gave me some advice I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since.

    It’s Fitzgerald’s “ever since,” not Horse’s.

    I liked that you mentioned the character by name. It helps us make connections.

  22. @bear, correct.

    @elk, last line italicized is the Slaughterhouse Five first sentence, written across her back, but not spoken and therefore not in quotes. It could just be capitalized, but I liked italics.

    I wouldn’t be caught dead on Yawkey during the day or night, nor in any of the four seasons. And you know this!

  23. Agree with Bear. We do need some reference to Gatsby’s world.

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