Instead of writing over Friday lunch as is my norm, this time I got a lesson in writing.
Cassandra and Darlene invited me to a “cultural lunch” – Jamaican food down in one of the strips along the west side of town. Bryon, a guy from Darlene’s team, came with us. I’ve make this joke before, since I was the only caucasian in this group, I felt like the gay white guy in a black comedy film.
Anyway, lunch was great – barbeque chicken and rice and dumplings – yum! But the interesting thing was the conversation we had, and its cadence.
See, when Cassandra and Darlene talk, it’s more that sister-slang chatter, fast and funny and colorful. And even when Bryon talked, it was still a looser conversation that I usually have. When I go out with, what, another cracker? – one talks, one listens, then we switch. When they go out, everyone is filling in for each other and slanging away.
In fact, when I talked, I sounded like the onerous white guy I was, slow and steady. My points were witty and all that, but even I noticed my own slow pace. It isn’t that I think that slow – it’s just the way white folk talk.
And that was the interesting thing – I’ve always prided myself on dialog. I remember playing it in Fire and Bronze, with purposely not using conjunctions so royalty would sound stilted and commoners would sound base. In Early ReTyrement, I went out of my way to make the hero’s servant Patisbazos sound stiff and dry. But now I found myself listening to their chatter, near musical in its flow and rhythm. Yes, I can write ancient peoples but I don’t think I can write black.
It makes me think of George McDonald Frazer, a stunning writer who could write Scots, Afghans, Chinese, and Americans with equal conviction. I don’t know if I could do that – I guess my white-bread upbringing was more shielded than I thought. For those who can, it’s a gift of ear and experience that I don’t think I have.
Still, I think I can speak crow (as per Indigo, my just-completed novel). Perhaps I’ll stick with long-dead and made-up languages. At least nobody can call me out on that.
Still, the food was great! And the company, as well. Thanks, girls!