Reading Through Cornbread

Over the last three or four days, D and I have been going over the Cornbread Baca manuscript. She reads it to me over google video chat and I listen and then I make notes on the manuscript–reading it all out loud is so helpful for me. She has been so giving with her time–thank you, D. Some notes for revision and re-envision coming from those readings:

We talked about comma usage problems of sentences–of course. Grammar and syntax are not my language or so I have always thought. This leads to quite a few useless repetitions in terms of words and also line by line information that repeats. First draft types of problems. Just as in the thesis, I can’t keep track of ages and time issues in early drafts and even later drafts. Character’s ages and dates. Arghh! I need to know that enemy and defeat but perhaps not until the bones are constructed. I am still drafting–that’s my only defense.

She also likes the scope of the story–the humor and the pathos of the situation. She likes the dialogue–she says it is authentic. Especially Lolo’s. And I do want more flash forward to Lolo’s Denver apartment.

She likes the character of Bea but also wants more clarity of chronology, since there are so many characters and so many stories going on–chronology of one central character would help, at least one focusing thread. This will help to give more of a central idea like Rudy’s murder but we need a bit more than that. Perhaps not as chronological as it needs to be right now. Maybe more like Caramelo. Perhaps follow Manito from his drop off at the Abuelitos’ home and then on to college and also following Bea to Colorado State with Manito–maybe the crisis/resolution will be the two getting out of the neighborhood and getting out to college–like the end of This Boy’s Life. I always say I want time to be more fluid like William Maxwell but I see her point and I need to draft a timeline if not for anything but my notes–maybe some sort of rudimentary family tree and such. D made me do this for the Huerfanos project and I have to say the homework step that I thought would be tedious was very helpful. Perhaps I can draft that with D’s help or I can do it while in Colorado.

She also added that the rabbit story or tentative Ch 14 doesn’t seem to fit and I need to work on the placement–perhaps placing it earlier in terms of tension and resolution to Lolo’s involvement with manito as I seem to be caught up with Bea and then we flash forward and away from the Bea story arc. I need to work on that–perhaps placement and new approach. Note: I also want to add more to the back story of the Abuelito and the child he fathered or was alleged to have fathered.

Controlling of time and deciding on chronology seems to be the biggest flaw in her reading and I agree. And I have time to re-think those problems as well as some time in Colorado to perhaps research Cornbread a bit more since the Chieftain website is not as helpful as it used to be.

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john paul jaramillo

John Paul Jaramillo’s debut story collection The House of Order was named a 2013 Int’l Latino Book Award Finalist, and his most recent work Little Mocos is now available from Twelve Winters Press. In 2013 Latino Boom: An Anthology of U.S. Latino Literature listed Jaramillo as one of its Top 10 New Latino Authors to Watch and Read. He is currently a professor of composition and literature at Lincoln Land College-Springfield, Illinois.

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