IWSG Question: Whose perspective do you like to write from best, the hero (protagonist) or the villain (antagonist)? And why?
ANSWER: I’m at a cross roads. When I started blogging, around 2009, we were sailing La Vita from San Diego, California to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Adventures, challenges, and unique experiences begged to be shared. It was me against the elements. I was the protagonist and loved learning to sail and adapt to life at sea.
In 2011, our sailing years began to transition from one medical challenge to another. Emergencies and medical procedures in three countries: Mexico, France, USA. My native language is English. Making life and death decisions with doctors & staff in a community that spoke mainly Spanish or French; even English, was terrifying.
Now, 10 years later, we plan to sell La Vita and move on land. Living on our sailboat, in a Mexican marina is ho hum. I anticipate living on land even more boring. Our bodies are not capable of managing a sailboat. Gone is the dream of sailing through the Panama canal and on to the Mediterranean.
I loved blogging and sharing unique aspects of my life in Mexico. What do I have to say that would hold readers for 10 minutes?
A writer friend suggested I write about caring for my partner: the challenges and the rewards. The intense medical phase was 2016 through 2018. Today our activities are confined by our physical limitations. We’ve reached a new norm.
I’m reluctant to dredge up the past because our readers are more interested in what’s going on now days. Am I wrong? Is there a niche that focuses on the past?
I’m eager to feel inspired to write again. Any ideas, suggestions, or incantations to shake desire into action?
IWSG Question: Besides writing what other creative outlets do you have?
ANSWER: My grandfather, Granville Redmond, is a well respected artist, therefore I should have some sort of art outlet. The Art gene skipped me.
My craft is management. I manage the La Cruz Writers’ Group (LCWG). I believe in free expression. I was tested.
The question of censorship came up last week. As moderator of La Cruz Writers’ Group, it is my responsibility to direct comments and maintain a safe environment for our writers. Occasionally, I’ve failed in my duties.
Last week an eloquent author told me he planned to read a politically sensitive poem. He asked, “Was that OK?”
Knowing my preference for a nice peaceful atmosphere, Paul gave me plenty of time to think about reading his piece “The United States of Us.” It was written to provoke.
We both recalled the spirited discussion over using the word Jew in his poem, “A Very Jewish Christmas.”
I thought, “What is more important: peace or censorship?”
Consumed with self-doubt, I reached out to two seasoned members and asked their opinion. One counseled me to exam the founding principles of LCWG and check my gut. The other urged freedom of speech.
After much contemplation, the an inner truth spoke to me, “Freedom of speech without censorship.”
My commitment scared me. My breath slowed; my heart pounded. Given my past failures, I questioned my ability to manage a lively debate. My worse fear? Create a permanently divided group of writers.
I asked Rick, my husband and trusted soul mate, to give up his Saturday and join our group. I needed his moral support.
Friday afternoon, I wrote ‘a note to self’ and examined my beliefs. Facing my fears gave way to survival-level strength. I told Rick I would facilitate the group alone.
Saturday morning our writers were seated in a circle. Podium and microphone in place. After introductions, I said, “I have a statement I need to make.”
From my comfy chair, I looked up from my notes. All eyes were fixed on me. I began in a quite voice, “The written word has changed the course of history.”
I drew a breath of courage and continued, “This week I had to decide whether or not to censor a piece of writing. I’m here to say, there will be no censorship or pre-approval for any story read during our gatherings.
“The subject matter may be offensive. Our beliefs may be challenged. It is the responsibility of each and everyone of us to express our opinion without condemnation.
“There is no room for personal criticism of anyone in the room, the subject matter or the author.
“It is our individual responsibility to focus on the writing: structure, character development, and pacing.”
The group drew a collective breath and expressed unanimous approval through applause and words of appreciation.
Paul read “The United States of Us.” His story inspired, provoked and forced us to question. A lively discussion followed. The exchange was everything our group stands for: Open dialog, exchange of ideas, informative and thought provoking.
I am grateful to our member for kicking off the intense discussion following, “A Very Jewish Christmas.”
I’m grateful I was forced to decide between censorship and peace.
Most of all, “I’m grateful our La Cruz Writers’ Group and the wealth of experience each individual brings to our gatherings.
We are united in willingness to listen and freedom of speech.
A Very Jewish Christmas
A very Jewish Christmas to you!
For there wouldn’t be a Christmas
If there hadn’t been a Jew.
It starts with a Jewish couple – that part we all knew.
A Jewish carpenter and his young bride Set out from Nazareth on a burro Being expectant, only she would ride — To a barn; the planning wasn’t thorough.
Then came the baby, warmed by donkey breath, He screamed and howled when he was born, They laid him in a manger — not the best — No one got much sleep before the morn.
The boy grew to start a new religion, In what we call Judeo-Christian tradition. He joined two cultures, didn’t he? An achievement for a young Jew on a mission.
So let us all recall this Christmas, What it means to me and you. There wouldn’t be a Christmas If there hadn’t been a Jew!
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: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.