Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Dialectic Feedback

I've blabbed a few times about this weird story I wrote about a boy on a garbage scow. I am too lazy to look up every reference on the blog, but here's a recent one, after all the book talk. The other day I got back some feedback on it that indicated the pidgin I wrote it in was an unpleasant part of the story. The feedback-giver noted that she had a "poison eye" (what a great phrase) toward dialect in general, so she wasn't sure she was impartial about the dialect in this story. She said the story itself was good, but her feedback was more limited than usual; I think she wasn't able to give it as close a read as she usually manages because the dialect bugged her so.

How do you feel about dialects? Love 'em or hate 'em? I think they can get irritating over the course of a whole book, especially if I can't quite parse how they sound. I never did get the hang of some of Hagrid's speech patterns in the Harry Potter books, not until I heard them from Robbie Coltrane. But I really enjoy dialects in short stories, usually, because they're like dropping in on a world I'm not familiar with and then leaving it before I discover all its downsides.

Here are the first two paragraphs.
Me n my Pa always lived here, on the river, is what I tell them when they come. The pretty ladies in their paperdoll dresses. They hold little lace hankies on their faces n they always frown, always, their foreheads creasin like the inside of an elbow. Different ladies, I think, or at least different hats n different shapes under their dresses, n they always ask how can you live here, my dear little man? Me n my Pa always lived here, is what I tell them.

Nothin was different for years. They come twice a month or so. They bring hard bread n the clearest water you ever saw in tin cups. Sometimes they sick up, when they think no one’s lookin, over the side of Maurice. My Pa named it that, he tell me, for his own pa. I ask him once if I should rename it Alfred when he pass on, when I come to be Lord of the Barge, but he din’t answer.

Matt asked me why I felt the story had to be in a dialect at all, and I didn't have a proper answer for him. Because that's how it sounds in my head. I could strip away the dialect and it would probably be much the same story, but it wouldn't feel right to me. Would it be better, though?

I've prepared three essays in the last couple of weeks. All three are about feminism issues, but they vary greatly in tone. I pitched the most serious one to a favorite website and got a response that was a sort of favorable rejection; the essay was three times too long for them, but they wanted to hear more pitches from me. So I'll wait a few days and pitch the second one. The third one's already gone to another favorite website.

I've also written a couple thousand words on the wikibook. Too soon to say if it's going to become something. I'm trying to write it in miniature pieces, just a few hundred words at a time, so I don't get overwhelmed by the project.

There's lots of other news, but none of it fits here. Let's all just keep on truckin'.

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