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\\A conversation between two writers named Jerome and Kelsey. They are sitting in a mall food court with only soft drinks in front of them. \\

Jerome
Hey. Kelsey. Did you read over the rough copy of that story I sent over a few weeks ago?

Kelsey
Yeah. I did.

Jerome
Verdict?

Kelsey
It’s fuckin’ terrible.

Jerome
What’s wrong with it?

Kelsey
You try to write dialog and maybe shouldn’t. People don’t talk that way.

Jerome
What do you mean?

Kelsey
It’s stilted. Awkward. Like, consider these line:

A man steps forward. “You know that this is how we make our living. We need any sort of identification to prove we killed the right group. Now, hurry your smoke, Skylar. We gotta go.”

“Fuck you, Steve.” Skylar proclaims under her breath.

Does something feel, off, about that exchange?

Jerome
Yep.

Kelsey
What do you mean “Yep”? Do you do it on purpose?

Jerome
Depends on the situation I’m writing. Most people—

Kelsey
It should always be fluid. Otherwise it’s not natural.

Jerome
When do you ever—

Kelsey
What I find helpful is actually have a person read out loud with you to bounce the conversation back and forth.

Jerome
Okay, but that—

Kelsey
Otherwise, you run the risk of things sounding manufactured, or worse: meandering.

Jerome
So, do you think that I should always do that?

Kelsey
Why not?

Jerome
I sometimes don’t have someone to “run lines” with me. I try to read things out loud, but I don’t—

Kelsey
…don’t what? Know where to put inflection?

Jerome
—I was going to say that I don’t know how to cut myself off. I can’t seem to create the awkward that is actual conversation.

Kelsey
Then don’t cut yourself off.

Jerome
Do you realize how hard it is to create a natural conversation without cutoff’s and awkward pausing?

Kelsey
What?

Jerome
It’s very rare to have a conversation flow in real life where no one stammers or cuts someone off.

Kelsey
We’re doing just fine.

Jerome
You cut me off at least twice so far in this friendly banter that we’re having now.

Kelsey
You call this friendly banter?

Jerome
What?

Kelsey
I fucking hate your writing. It’s depressing. It’s morose. The ending is always left in space. Your language is too complicated for some.

Jerome
So, you’re saying that I should just stop?

Kelsey
NO! I’m saying that you should just get better. You seem to have written yourself into a corner where you don’t seem to grow or change. 

Your best work was a few stories ago, and you are just stagnating. Your last piece was, in your own words, similar to what you would have written in high school. And your best work is not even that good.

Jerome
So, what you’re saying is: you do like my early work?

Kelsey
No. I’m saying that you seem to think you’re okay at this. Why keep beating your head against the wall?

Jerome
… because I have to?

Kelsey
Have to? Or want to?

Jerome
Both.

Kelsey
How can it be both?

Jerome
Simple. I write for me, and the ten or so people that think my writing is worth their time.

Kelsey
Okay, but how—

Jerome
I write because I can’t draw, I can’t play drums how I used to, I can’t sing… so what other artistic thing am I doing to do?

Kelsey
So, you’re admitting that you just do this as a kind of masturbation?

Jerome
No, you pretentious prick!

Kelsey
Then when do you do this?

Jerome
Because, unlike what you say, I don’t think I suck. I have points on society that I want, or need, to make. I have opinions that I want to share. I want to challenge the ideas of spirituality, religion, and life. 

I don’t want to lay my opinions bare, because I have nothing more grandiose than ideas. Those ideas, however, do make some decent short stories.

Kelsey
So, why make them public?

Jerome
What do you mean?

Kelsey
If you are doing it for you, why infest the world with your drivel?

Jerome
Why not?

Kelsey
Because you’re fucking terrible.

//long, awkward pause

Kelsey
You read my latest book, right?

Jerome
I understand it’s merit, but it’s not my cup-o-tea.

Kelsey
What do you mean? It’s got love, death, suspense, death…

Jerome
Yeah. But not my kind of thing.

Kelsey
What do you mean?

Jerome
I’m not going to dunk on it. Just leave it at “it’s not my cup-o-tea”.

Kelsey
There’s ‘dunking’ angles?

Jerome
Drop it—

Kelsey
I didn’t think there were dunking angles…?

Jerome
KELSEY (awkward pause)

Jerome
Thank you. Can we get off the topic now? What are you working on next?

Kelsey
I’m working on a young-adult novel about a boy and a girl in high school

Jerome (under breath)
original.

Kelsey
What was that?

Jerome
Nothing. Don’t worry about—

Kelsey
—it? You just want me to drop this line of inquiry and pretend you didn’t say something?

Jerome
Why are you pushing this? I want to just drop the conversation and move on.

Kelsey
TELL ME

Jerome
No.

Kelsey
C’mon!

Jerome
Fine. You asked for this.

Kelsey
Fuckin’ finally! Thank you!

Jerome
You’re terrible. I hate your writing. You’re stories have nothing original to offer. You’re dialect is pedestrian at best. In fact, you probably don’t understand that line. You probably don’t see anything wrong with that way of doing things. You probably think it’s all fine as long as people buy into your shit, but you do NOTHING to hold yourself up to a test of time. Fuck: in five years, your books will be in a discount bin.

\\Kelsey abruptly leaves, knocking her chair into seats behind her. Jerome continues to sit, starring at his half-full cup\\

Kelsey
Fuck you. You’re a waste.