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The Write Stuff

For the past couple of years I’ve been working on writing a book. Folks often ask “How’s the book coming?” I will tell you. It’s a journey. Like traveling to someplace new, there are stages. The three stages I’ve been through so far are: learning, researching, and decision making.

Learning. I’ve taken lots of classes on writing. Almost of all them were taught by published authors. The first thing they tell you is this: “Don’t expect to get rich writing books.” They should know; they are teaching to help pay the bills. So you write because you like it. Making money will be a bonus.

In addition to the skills I’ve learned, the thing that stands out for me is the irony of writing. It’s a solitary passion, but writers need to share with others. Whether it is chapter by chapter (thanks JS and writing group) or at the end of the first draft, getting critique from others is necessary and helpful. Even if you don’t agree, it gets those creative juices flowing.

Researching. My first idea was to write a travel book. That morphed to a memoir. When that sounded boring, I got inspired to write fiction. For the past year, I’ve focused exclusively on the fiction idea. I’m up to thirty plus chapters and going. With the help of the internet, interviews, and other related books, I’ve tried to make my story as authentic as possible. I made it a little hard on myself by setting my story in 1980.

Decision Making. Part of the fun of writing is that you control the fate of your characters. Because of that power, I’ve become very close to them. Laughing when they laugh, crying when they cry. My job is to remember what my main character wants most and stop her from getting it. That is hard to do, because once she gets what she wants, the story is over. So you pile on the obstacles until she reaches the goal you’ve set for her.

Any more questions? I love to talk about writing.

Correction on Vaya, Maya, Playa post. My photo of the pyramid at Chichen Itza was actually the pyramid at Coba. You can no longer climb the pyramid at Chichen Itza.

Just Added

Vaya, Maya and Playa

This is not rhyme with “aya” day. This is a post about my recent trip to the Yucatan penisula with my family. We had a great time exploring and relaxing. And extra bonus—no one got sick! I thought I’d share some special moments.

When I travel in a foreign country, I try to speak their language. I took Spanish in high school and college and have lived half my life in San Diego. I can get by if people don’t talk too fast.

On our first day of vacation, we rented a car offsite from the airport in Cancun. This car had over 150,000 miles on it. For the well being of my family, I sat in the back seat. The first Spanish words I prayed on this trip were vaya con Dios (go with God). This was my mantra during each road trip we took.

After a short visit in Cancun, we drove to Chichen Itza to see the pyramid built by the Mayans. We stayed at the Hotel Mayaland which is located walking distance from the pyramid. We hired a guide and toured the archeological site for a couple of hours. Below is a photo of my husband and daughter climbing down the pyramid. You may need to click on the photo to enlarge it enough to see them. I volunteered to stay at ground level and be the photographer. Let’s just say I heard enough about human sacrifices that day.
In addition to learning about the Mayan civilization from the past, we also learned about present-day Mayan hospitality. The staff at Hotel Mayaland really impressed me. Because the resort is small, you get to know the staff quite well. One waiter, Rojerio, seemed to be fond of me. He asked my husband if he was a jealous man. When he said no, Rojerio handed me a marriage proposal which he wrote phonetically in Mayan (see below). It could say your wife looks like an iguana, but I’ll never know!
On our last meal, he presented me with a rose he crafted from tin foil. We captured that moment on film too.
When we left Chichen Itza, we headed to Coba to see another pyramid. My husband had a great idea to rent bicycles to move quickly around the park. The last time I road a bike was about 15 years ago. I rode this one like Wilma Flintstone using my feet to slow me down. This may be the only photograph of me on a bike in circulation.
Val on Bike
Our last three days were spent at the Sandos Caracol Eco Resort in Playa del Carman. This was my first experience with an all inclusive resort. The upside of all inclusive is that you don’t worry about paying for anything. The downside is that you eat and drink everything. We picked this resort because it had a beautiful location, it was an eco park, and it offered opportunities to see wildlife. In addition to the more common parrots, peacocks, turtles, and iguanas, we got to see coatis and a spider monkey. My daughter is the photographer of the coati and spider monkey below.
Choate animal

monkey tree