Jacquie Bullard

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Nit de Foc (Outtakes)

Was it really William Faulkner who said, "In writing, you must kill all your darlings."? It's such a dramatic way of describing the editing process, but I have to admit that at times, it really does feel like you're killing something when you cut it out of your manuscript. On the flip side, though, comes more creative options and new possibilities.

The photo here is one of me and some friends in Barcelona on Nit de Foc, also known as the Sant Joan Festival. It was an unforgettable night that I just had to capture in my WIP, but alas, some of the details didn't serve the plot of my novel, so this little excerpt is just part of the scene that I'm cutting out.

This one's dedicated to all the real, living, breathing people that inspired my writing without even meaning to!

“And you? What’s your job?"

“I teach English.”

“You came to Barcelona to teach English?”

“Yes...and no. I came here because I wanted to, and teaching English is a way for me to stay here.”

“Ah. Well, you could help me! I need to learn English before I move to America.”

She giggled, until her laughter grew and grew and pretty soon she was laughing like someone had just told her the funniest joke.

“What’s so funny?”

“I just think it’s funny when people call it America. It sounds so much more legendary and idealistic than ‘the United States.’ America, in my mind, includes Canada and probably a lot of Canadians would want to be distinguished from the United States. The world doesn’t like Americans.”

“That’s not really true. I like America. I want to go there.”

“Have you ever been?”

“Well, no. But for some reason, I think of New York and think that I would like it.”

“I like New York. But also, New York is not like other places in the U.S. It’s different everywhere. It’s like Barcelona, here we are in Catalunya and people from Madrid or Andalucia talk about “the real Spain,’ in other words, the rest of Spain outside Catalunya.”

“True. But here we are, you and I, both foreigners here...”

“Ha! Like half the population of this city! People come here from everywhere!”

“Exactly. We all have our reasons for coming here and probably there are things about Barcelona that we never expected or imagined. But we come here with a different view, an outside view. We see this place with new eyes.”

He took a drag on his cigarette and held the smoke in, thinking. Then he exhaled and held up the half smoked cigarette. “See this? It’s just a cigarette but it makes me think about time. While smoking one cigarette, you can think of so many things. You can come to conclusions. I told you I came here with the goal of staying one year, and throughout that year you can have good days and bad days, you can change your mind about whether or not you want to stay. You go in phases, you pass through moods, you think of things you never thought of before. But it’s a measure of time; like this cigarette, it is a measure of time, a reminder that whatever is happening now is going to pass, that things change, that cigarettes burn out; you know what I mean?”

“That’s the most philosophical excuse I have ever heard a smoker give for smoking!” she teased. She thought of all those little cortados that people drank so slowly, sometimes over deep conversations, other times alone and in silence. Then she turned to him. “But I know exactly what you mean.”