IWSG Question: How has your creativity in life evolved since you began writing?
My Answer: Here’s what’s evolved since I began writing: I’m on high alert to records events in my life that strike my fancy as odd, unique, funny, or painful. The more creative my writing can be, the more compelling it is it is to read my stories.
My readers are curious and enjoy sharing my journey as a retired adventurous TV producer and writer living on a sailboat in a Mexico. From the safety of their armchair, my readers are invited to join my explorations.
Here’s a recent example.
While the interior of our boat, La Vita, is being given a new coat of varnish, we are renting a modest casa (house) in a typical Mexican neighborhood. The home is cozy, but boasts of a huge 75-inch TV. The air conditioning unit is mounted in the wall above the entertainment center.
Rick and I are enjoying a glass of wine while sitting on the couch facing the TV. We are talking about our plans for moving back on the boat.
Rick turns to his right and says, “What the hell is going on?”
I look up and water is pouring out of the face of the air conditioner. Water floods the wood shelves below and cascades down the face of the television drenching the everything in its path.
I look frantically for A/C and TV remotes and turned off the television and air conditioner. Rick moved what he could to reach plugs and cut power. We haven’t a clue where the breaker panel is.
Next, I raced around grabbing towels and tossing them to Rick. Rick is 6 foot tall, so he could reach the top of the entertainment unit and started mopping. When the electrical emergency was under control, I called the owner. He lives nearby and arrived within 15 minutes.
Turns out, the condensation from the air conditioner flows to a reservoir and drain in the driveway. The reservoir was full and the drain was clogged thus preventing the water from flowing to the street. As a result the condensation had no escape path and decided to flow into the house instead. The owner bailed out the water and unclogged the drain. We all went back inside and turned on the TV and AC. Everything went back to normal. Until it happened again the next week.
As I return to writing, after a two year detour supporting my husband during his recovery from three spine surgeries in 2016, I am challenged to find the right words and phrases to hold the readers attention.
Any suggestions? What is missing? What could I add that would more clearly convey to you, the reader, what I was feeling and seeing?
Thank you for visiting and any suggestions you may have to offer. I look forward to returning the favor and commenting on your IWSG post.
IWSG Question: How do major life events affect your writing? Has writing ever helped you through something?
My Answer: Remember the recent Supreme Court confirmation hearing? I watched spell-bound as she persuaded and he attacked.
I had no idea, within a two days, I’d be embroiled in something similar.
Assistant Manager’s style: attack My style: persuade
ISSUES 1. There were renter 20 rules to obey. , tenant’s cannot be in their rented casita (cottage) while housekeeping is cleaning. We reluctantly allowed access to our unit while Rick was at physical therapy. After the cleaning lady rifled through our personal possessions & briefcase with our passport & money, I complained. I stated I needed to be in our unit when serviced. Management insisted I stay outside, in the 90 degree heat and high humidity (or leave the property). Why did management enable this kind of behavior?
They have a list of some 20 rules. Requiring the tenant to vacate the unit and allowing housekeeping full rein of their units was a shock.
2. One of the propane burners was plugged and soot got on the pot holder. Management took a picture of the pot holder and I was chastised for getting it dirty. Creepy to realize someone was going through laundry and taking pictures!
3. Assistant manager sent me text this text where she noted I spent excess time in the supply room folding three small garbage bags:
…manager watched you fold up [3 waste-basket size] garbage bags the other day. It only takes 20 seconds to grab a garbage bag...you were in there several minutes…
We had been tenants for two months. Why start spying on me the last week?
When I was folding the small plastic bags, I sensed being observed. I dismissed the feelings…but apparently I was feeling her energy.
4. Rebuked for checking out 1 October; saying our rent was paid to the 30th. I showed assistant manager our receipt (in manager’s handwriting) and it clearly stated 1 October. We were out by 11am 1 October.
In my haste to write this post, I neglected to include the walk-through nightmare.This lively technicolor discussion loops around in my head and the reason the smaller events took on greater importance.
5. Assistant manager knocks on the door at 11am for the walk-through.
“Where’s the Roku?” assistant manager said as she walked straight to the TV and began looking around. “It’s right there on the shelf under the TV,” I replied, “I see the base, where is the WiFi adapter for the Roku?” “We never had it, remember? It never worked,” I replied “You used it.” “We couldn’t use it because the adapter was missing. Later you found it in the main house.” I said as my gut tightened. “I don’t want to pay for a new Roku!” fired back the assistant manager. “The Roku didn’t work. We mirrored Netflix to the TV with our HDMI cable. I sent a text message to you when I was buying an HDMI cable. Look in the main house, it’s there.” “I’m not paying $80 for a new Roku, I’m calling the police!” “Go right ahead and call,” I replied evenly.
None of us spoke all that much Spanish, so calling the police was a bluff. I was thinking about calling our Mexican attorney friend for advice.
Assistant manager gets red in the face and starts crying.
“You owe us $49.55 x 40 days = $1982.00 pesos for electricity,” said the assistant manager.
Rick, my husband, held up last month’s power bill. He pointed to the kilowatt calculation table.
“You know the power bill is not averaged per day. The price is adjusted depending on the kilowatts consumed. We owe you $1,683.00 pesos, not $1,982.00.”
(The difference is about $17.00 USD.)
“You’re paying for the Roku!” Rick, looked her straight in the eye and said in a firm and even voice, “We are not paying for the Roku. You know that Roku never worked. We never used it.”
Rick is a Taurus. He is a bull. Slow to burn, but when he does, steam comes out of his nostrils, he paws the ground, and everyone better scatter if they know what’s good for them.
I am a Libra; an iron fist in a velvet glove. When angry, I have a habit of staying silent and walking away. Peace at any cost approach. ALMOST. This time I mentally rehearsed staying present; addressing each accusations; and responding with the truth and facts.
I held my ground. I faced my accuser. I reminded her again, the Roku WiFi adapter was probably in her home. I explained we frequently shopped at Costco. Empty Costco packaging is large and bulky, therefore, I may have used several small garbage bags. I did get one roll of paper towels.
“Would you have preferred I tossed the used containers in the garbage cans without placing them in bags?” I asked.
“You stole five rolls of paper towels!” She stomped her foot.
“I did get one roll of paper towels. I have no idea what happened to the other four.”
“I expect you to cover the cost of products above and beyond what we normally supplied, that you helped yourself to.” She was livid.
Later, I realized they rented another unit about the time the paper towels went missing. In preparation for the new tenant, could they have put a roll a paper towels in that unit and forgotten? I’ll never know.
I also forgot to mention I have an autoimmune disease that causes two finger tips to crack and peel. I’ve been dealing with this for over a year. I’ve consulted doctors here in Mexico and United States. I’ve been described medication, hand lotion, and told to avoid contact with cleaning supplies, including dish soap. I wear rubber gloves. To reduce washing dishes, my dermatologist told me to use paper plates, bowls, and cups. Unfortunately, these paper products added to household trash.
6. Root canal the same week. The permanent cap built by a previous dentist fell off. A new dentist was recommended and an x-ray proved I needed a root canal. Just to be different, I had three nerve roots in my tooth (most people have two). I clutched the dental chair in anticipation of a sudden jolt of pain. The drilling seem to go on forever.
Why not ask me in a civil voice? Why assume the worst and hurl mean spirited accusations? Honest to goodness, I don’t which is worse the root canal or these rage-filled allegations from an over suspicious manager and fear-driven assistant manager.
I’m still numb. I just begun to discharge my rage, resentment, anger at being accused of petty theft. Writing about here, in this post, does help. I’m adding to this post as I remember more details. One letter at a time.
Here’s the problem: in my head, I feel, see, and experience the walk-through event. When I think about describing the scene, I’m stuck. I struggle to find the right words to fully describe the scene and the impact on me.
How do I begin to write about the viciousness of the last few days? How do I write in such a way that accurately details my inner turmoil? How do I begin to express events so foreign to me? Why attack me? Did she think she could bully me into paying?
We paid our calculated amount of electricity. Management owed us $100 MXN ($5 USD) for a past over payment. We told her to apply the $100 toward household supplies. Hopefully, she found the missing Roku adapter in her house.
To quote Pat Garcia, a member of IWSG, “Everything must change.” May the change be positive. May each of us experience peace and the strength to resolve conflicts with dignity and respect.
IWSG Question:What publishing path are you considering/did you take, and why?
My Answer:Blogging my publishing path de jour. After we bought a sailboat, sold our house, and set sail from San Diego to Mexico I discovered, for the first time ever, I had something exciting to write about. The challenge was how to say it in way that folks would read it.
We docked in a marina just north of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and I joined a writing group. The group subjected me to a writing intervention and I finally saw the light. My writing was dry as Death Valley, California.
My challenge continues to be, how do properly described these events? How do I transfer my feelings, emotions, and intuition on to paper? I firmly believe my experiences in a Mexico can be written in the style of Lee Child or Sue Grafton.
In 2016 I put my writing on the shelf and focused on my energy on my husband’s recovery. These days, my husband is self-sufficient after two years of hell fighting to regain the use of his right leg.
However, during those two years, WordPress moved on and left me in the dust. My Website was hacked. I needed to create a brand new site with a look and feel I’m proud of. Rather than invest time in creating this new whiz-bang site, I’ve accepted this blan uninspiring WP theme.
I’m continuing down the blogging path because it offers instant reward: it’s out there for all to see. Books take forever and marketing seems to be a full time commitment. Having said that, I intend to compile my vignettes into a real life, nail biting stories worth reading! Probably go the eBook route.
I’ve given myself permission to spend what little free time I have on improving the quality of our lives and my writing. Participating in our monthly IWSG blog hop continues to be my link to the writing community and I thank each of you for stopping by and leaving a comment. It’s exciting to see what going on with our IWSG I look forward to visiting your site.
IWSG Question: What pitfalls would you warn other writers to avoid on their publication journey?
My Answer: I write blog posts based on true events in my life. In a recent IWSG post, Crystal Collier asked me if I have plans to compile my stories into a memoir.
The thrill of a new idea wakes me in the wee hours. I awake with a hunger to get my idea on the page. To share slivers of my life with you, my reader. To tell a compelling story that grips your attention for a few minutes.
I crave to find the right word to express to you the terror I felt when the scorpion scuttled across the living room tile.
And the relief when Rick crushed the thing with his cane.
My tick-tock internal question is,
1. “When will my writing be good enough?”
2. Followed by, “When will they be good enough to publish?”
3. And, “Who is my audience?”
As the leader of La Cruz Writers’ Group I watched folks grow from index cards to published author. I’ve listened to their questions. I’ve paid close attention to the answers. I’ve listened to hours of Webinars. The more I learn, the more intimated I become. Marketing is a ton of work and time. The royalty checks are often puny. I wonder why invest dear money in publishing? Is sharing my adventures on a blog enough?
This month, I’ll be visiting your blog and gleaning answers from each of you.
Thank you for visiting. It’s always a joy to read your comments. I promise is to return the favor and visit your blog.
July 2018 La Cruz Marina, North of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
In two days, we have a 9am appointment at the marina boatyard to repair a leaky propeller shaft.
Sunday, we started preparing our home and sailboat La Vita, for her date. First, we had to remove an acre of shade canvas.
I worried if we’d either be injured or fail. Rick’s limited mobility from fused disks in his neck and spine plus the searing tropical sun have conspired to make the job nearly impossible. Did I mention we are in our 70’s?
My anxiety grew when Rick groaned with shoulder pain as he stretched his arms to release buckles connected to the mast.
I needed to do my share, so I set to work and unfastened belts, straps, and twists. Once the shade cloth was loose, we shoved the canvas toward the bow and tied it to the life lines.
The next day, we had more fun in the blazing heat. Our dock lines were tied to our neighboring slip and had to be removed. With calculated self control, Rick worked his 6-foot frame into a crouched position and unwrapped the line from around a cleat.
To move to the next cleat, he’d push on his thigh and work himself to standing position. Sometimes he’d lean against the dock box to regain his equilibrium. I was onboard La Vita and powerless to lend a hand.
We’re not complaining. We’re grateful! In 2016 the nerve running to Rick’s right thigh muscles was pinched so badly it atrophied.
Through sheer determination and over two years of physical therapy, Rick graduated from wheelchair, to leg brace & walker, to a cane.
Rick untied the lines and my job was to haul the lines onboard and stow them on deck. They were soggy with salt water and heavy. I was tired, stressed and pissed at my clumsiness.
The best I could do was tie them in an ugly wad and hope they didn’t slide back into the water.
The problem is the dripless shaft seal system. It’s cracked and leaking. The seal needs to be replaced; preferably out of the water.
Tuesday morning the panga tow boat arrived. Folks that promised help us were a no show.
I went below and used the VHF radio to hail our friend Richard on s/v Eyes of the World. While I was on the radio, Rick nearly passed out as he untied the bow lines. Rick climbed onboard and sat behind the wheel to recover. Our friend arrived and he released final dock lines
The panga pulled us out of the slip and we glided at a sedate pace to the boatyard. I watched birds soar over head as we floated by our neighbors moored in their slips.
I opened my cell phone and called the young man that arranged for our haul out. I wanted to tell him we were on our way. He didn’t answer; apparently MIA (missing in action).
We needed someone to our catch lines and secure us to the dock.
Rick was busy watching the tow. I went below and hailed seguridad (security) on the VHF,
“Marina La Cruz seguridad, Marina La Cruz seguridad, this is La Vita.”
When they answered I asked, “Can you meet us at the fuel dock?”
He replied, “The the fuel dock opens at 9:30.”
They speak limited English and I speak less Spanish.
We needed someone on the dock to take our lines now, not at 9:30.
Rick was at the helm and used La Vita’s momentum from the tow to skillfully guide our approach to the dock.
I coiled a port line and prepared to toss it to any live soul on the dock. Without a engine, Rick had little control and could easily overshoot our approach.
Thanks to our guardian angels, security arrived just in time to catch the line and tie it to the cleat. Next, a boatyard worker jumped on board and tossed lines to the travel life handlers.
The men were quick and efficient. Within 15 minutes, we were secured in the slings. A flood of relief washed over me. La Vita, Rick and I were lifted gently into the air. While suspended over the water didn’t dare twitch a muscle.
Secured in the straps, the Travel Lift rolled us into the yard.
I asked myself, “Why do the angels always seem to appear at the 11th hour? Why do I get so worked up?” LOL
With La Vita in the yard and hanging in the lift’s embrace, a ladder was secured at the boarding gate. Fernando, our mechanic, climbed up the rungs and boarded La Vita.
Once onboard, Fernando opened the hatch and climbed into the lazarette.
Fernando labored in the hole about two hours removing and installing the new dripless shaft seal. When the work was completed, the Travel Lift carried us stern first over land and lowered us into the water.
A catamaran was at the dock leaving us no room to tie up. After some grunting and shoving the dock workers moved the Catamaran making room for both of us.
The lift operator released the straps and La Vita floated free. Dock workers pulled our lines and secured us to the fuel dock.
Rick fired up the engine, Fernando checked the seal and reported more leaks! Oh, my heavens, now what? The seal came from the States! Importing a new part would take weeks.
Fernando, pulled tools out of his canvas bag and climbed back into the lazarette, He made minor adjustments and declared the shaft dry and the seal working properly.
Once again, I thought, “Why do I get so worked up?”
With Fernando on board, and Rick at the helm, we motored back to our slip.
While underway, I relaxed with a familiar sense of freedom I always felt when we glided over the seas.
My gazed drifted toward horizon and the smell of salt air filled my lungs.
Marina security was waiting at our slip and Fernando tossed the lines. Within minutes we were tied and secure. Fernando opened the hatch climbed into the compartment to double check for leaks around the shaft. He popped his head out of the hole and gave us the thumbs up. Everything was perfect.
Rick and I discussed his lost of balance and wevwracked our brains trying to figure out what was going on. Sure, his lower back and neck were fused and this contributed to his struggle to kneel and stand up. But why the unbearable breathlessness and near black out?
Finally it dawned on us, Rick was taking a new cough suppressant for a persistent cough caused by a chronic sinus allergy. We Google researched the interactions associated with the new medication.
We discovered shortness of breath and dizziness were sever side effects. Rick stopped taking the medication. Within three days, Rick breathing returned to normal.
Some may wonder why we live in Mexico on our sailboat.
Our answer: we’d rather celebrate brilliant sunrises and physically challenge ourselves than sit on a tacky couch and stare at the boob tube.
We’ve read the ‘message in the bottle,’ and we are reminded our strength is being together, regardless where we call home.
IWSG Question: What’s harder for you to come up with, book titles or character names?
My Answer: I write blog posts based on true events in my life. Except for my husband and me, most of the the names are changed to protect the privacy of others.
The post title is revealed to me as I write the post and tag line. The participant names are more difficult, because there are several. Often, the person appears in multiple posts, so keeping track of them requires a bit of organization.
If you write a true story, do you combine past events into a single time frame? If so, why?
Thank you for visiting and taking time to comment. I’m excited to visit & comment on your post, too.
P.S.: I’m pleased to say this post went live while I was asleep. I finally figured out how to set the WP UTC clock (-5hr/Guadeloupe, MX) and post us 24-hour clock (13 = 1pm).
IWSG Question:It’s spring! Does this season inspire you to write more than others, or not?
My Answer: Spring inspired us to travel to the States and renew our Nevada driver’s license, then fly to San Diego, California and visit family.
We were over 65, so the DMV Website indicated a physical is required before renewing senior citizen’s driver’s licenses. CVS pharmacy assured us we could get a physical at their 1-Minute Clinic.
Sunday afternoon, we arrived at 1-Minute Clinic and explained our need for a physical. I handed her the DMV form she needed to complete and sign.
The lady in the 1-Minute Clinic said, “I can’t do it, you need a doctor. I’m a Nurse Practitioner (NP). You need a doctor to sign this form.”
I’m dumbfounded. “I called CVS 1-Minute Clinic customer service. She assured me we could get a physical here.”
“I’m sorry, I can’t help you. I’m a Nurse Practitioner, you need a doctor to sign this form,” she said again.
I’m so stunned, I can hardly speak, “I can’t believe what you’re saying. We booked a flight, hotel, and rented a car! We need this physical to renew our driver’s licenses!”
“You can go to Urgent Care. They have doctors, I’m sure they can help you. Here’s a list of their locations.” I take the paper and walk out.
We drove to the closest location and walked into the Urgent Care clinic. As we approached the desk, the receptionist stopped texting and looked up. I explained our need for a physical and showed her the DMV form. The receptionist glanced at the paper and said, “Can’t do it. It needs to be your family physician. No doctor here will sign this form.”
We don’t have a family physician in Nevada. How in heaven’s name can get a physical?
We’d just wasted $1,000 on the promise CVS could perform the physical. Without a driver’s license we are blocked from driving a car. What do we do?
We decided to keep our 10am DMV appointment. We needed to know exactly who can perform our physical.
All night long I visualized a successful DMV appointment.
We arrived on time and within 30 minutes DMV renewed our driver’s license. No physical required! We’ve just experienced a miracle.
The next day, we flew from Las Vegas to San Diego. We hired a taxi to take us to the San Diego naval base. We are staying on base in the Navy Lodge. As we are checking in I reached for my ID and discover my wallet is missing!
OMG, I left my wallet in the cab! It held my:
Credit Cards: possible false charges Mexican Permanent Resident Visa: might be denied return entry into Mexico Mexican Driver’s License: driving privilege in Mexico
Nevada Driver’s License: can’t drive or rent a car
Dependent military ID: No longer able to shop on base. Denied all spousal privileges and medical services
As the enormity of loss sinks in, my brain started churning up mud. What do I do? Where do I start?
I called the cab company, it becomes crystal clear they can’t help me locate the driver. I paid cash, no receipt, no taxi number, no driver’s name. Once again, my world tilted on its axis.
Once again, I visualized a successful outcome; the return of my wallet and contents.
About two hours later, my iPhone rings. The incoming call is King Harbor Yacht Club. “Hello, how are you doing?” asked the lady.
I replied, “I’m not doing well at all, I just lost my wallet.”
King Harbor manager, “I just received a call from someone named Lance saying he found your wallet.”
“Are you serious?”
Manager, “Yes, here’s his phone number, 555-xxx-xxxx.”
I called Lance and sure enough, he had my wallet.
We meet two hours later. I offered him a reward and he wouldn’t accept it.
Apparently, Lance and his wife hired the same cab at the airport. They saw my wallet on the seat and decided they would return it to me rather than give it to the driver.
They had opened my wallet and saw my King Harbor Yacht Club. They called King Harbor and asked them to contact me.
The weird thing is, the US phone number on my iPhone was activated two days ago. How did King Harbor Yacht Club get my current number?
I’m writing this post at 3:30am Wednesday morning. These two events started and ended within the last 72 hours. I’m still spinning from my wild three-day roller coaster ride.
I’ve used visualization all my life to “see” my desired outcome, but I have to admit these two events suggest there is a higher energy at work that is beyond my understanding.
When Alex Cavanaugh challenged, “Lynn, really?” my creative juices kicked into gear.
Thank you, Alex for being curious about my IMDb credits(listed under my previous name: L. Sharon Tammarine). Curiosity opens so many door. It was fun and an honor to share a share a bit of my film making history with you.
IWSG Question:When your writing life is a bit cloudy or filled with rain, what do you do to dig down and keep on writing?
My Answer: It depends how deep the funk is. Light clouds: take photos. Thunderstorm: scribble thoughts in a journal. Constant in my life: maintain relationships with other writers. Accepted writing invitation.
RECORDING MEMORIES In 2016, I snapped pictures and filled my pocket-size spiral notebooks. That year Rick (my husband) walked into the hospital and after his spinal surgery his right leg didn’t work. Two more surgeries and two years were required to inspire life in pinched sciatic nerves and rebuild strength in atrophied thigh muscles. We both devoted all our energy to his recovery. I was spent.
CONNECTED TO OTHER WRITERS My writing life withered into a dormant state; but not abandoned. I received life-sustaining oxygen as the leader of La Cruz Writers’ Group, here in Mexico.
I was too pigheaded to surrender my status in Insecure Writers Support Group. I inched from #257 (2015) to #160 (2016). I could manage the once-a-month blog-hop. I clung with limpet-tight tenacity to maintain my status.
My IWSG blog-hop posts frequently expressed pain and helplessness. True to the IWSG code of ethics, every visitor offered compassion and reassurance. These monthly meet ups became a safe refuge.
In spring 2018 Rick reached a recovery plateau. We are making peace with our new reality.
ACCEPTED INVITATION By chance, someone we all know & respect, invited me to write about my movie career. Something about his request awakened my hibernating desire to write. The deadline launched my creativity and revived my ol’ desire to engage my readers.