Tag Archives: writing

Boquete, Panama: Manana…or why nothing is getting done today…

Boquete, Panama. Finca Luz. A sunny Sunday.

I love my dictionary. Seriously. I’ve had this copy of Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary since 1965. The gold lettering on the faded blue cover is completely obliterated by the desk side detritus of spilled drinks, potato chip grease, and the sheer dust of the ages. The spine vanished decades ago. The thin pages are yellowed. The print has grown so small I now need glasses to read it. This book has lived in North Carolina, Texas, Georgia, Arizona, Washington and now, Panama. I love this book.Dictionary Boquete, Panama: Manana...or why nothing is getting done today...

When I was in high school, I would read this very same dictionary during boring classes. I remember the day I discovered the word mellifluous. Say it…mel-li-flu-ous. Just kind of rolls off the tongue like honey. I was in civics class with old Mrs. Coldren, being driven to distraction by the particularities of the North Carolina State Constitution. I mean…really…at age 15, who cares?? I got caught.

“What are you reading, young lady? What is that book in your lap?”

Smiling sweetly, I held up my lovely blue dictionary. “I’m looking up a word,” I explained.

“Oh.” Not much else she could say.

That day I went on to lyophobic, and to the thirteen distinct definitions and fifteen sub-definitions for shot. Who knew?

The word for today is procrastination. “To put off intentionally and reprehensibly the doing of something that should be done.” Ouch. Reprehensibly? That seems a bit harsh, but there it is in black and white on page 679 about mid-way down the first column.

I admit: there are dirty dishes in the sink from last night. The tomato plants should be sprayed for powdery mildew. The chickens need to have their water changed. The bougainvillea are dry as bones, the basil is going to seed, the bed isn’t made, and…honestly…I need a shower. Worst, there is a character in my nascent novel who is hanging on tenter hooks in Icabaru, Venezuela where he is fixing to get into seriously deep shit over some diamond smuggling and I haven’t the foggiest clue how it will come out, and here I sit eating tortilla chips, drinking a beer (in the middle of the afternoon, no less!!), and messing around with web pages and blog posts about everything from the Embera indigenous of Panama, botanical plants, recipes for pain reliever salve to…my dictionary.

Maybe reprehensible isn’t so harsh. Let me see. Reprehensible: “Worthy of or deserving reprehension.”  Reprehension: “Reproof.”

Okay, I get it. It’s not good and I should get on with what needs to be done and quit procrastinating.

But wait. This is interesting. Reprehend, from the Middle English and dictionary1 Boquete, Panama: Manana...or why nothing is getting done today...Latin, to hold back, and the French, reprehendere (to grasp, see prehensile.).

How did we get from prehensile (as in a monkey’s tail) to a morally suspect postponement of tasks? I have no clue. Do you? Any linguists out there?

That’s it, then. I’ll start with the chickens’ water, progress to the bougainvillea and basil, wash the dishes, take a shower and THEN I will see about the poor bugger in Icabaru. I have a feeling it isn’t going to go well for him. The tomatoes will have to wait. Manana.

Manana. (spanish. lit. tomorrow. french, earlier, as in early tomorrow.). An indefinite time in the future….. And that’s it for today, from Boquete, Panama. Hasta manana.


Somewhere....under the rainbow

Write a Novel in a Month: Are you freaking kidding me??

Boquete, Panama.

It’s been awhile. I know. I approfile photo Write a Novel in a Month: Are you freaking kidding me??ologize.  Several people (dare I call them ‘fans’?) have written to me to complain: “Where did you go? Why haven’t you posted another Ramblings since that long, ranting thing you did about God? It’s been two months! You call yourself a Writer??  Come back!”

It’s humbling, and frightening. Pressure…I’m back.

Truth is, I have been writing. I am writing a new book–fiction this time–and I’m about a third of the way through the first draft. 17,342 words as of half an hour ago.

It’s a long road, this book writing gig. I started writing November 1, as part of the National Write a Novel in a Month thing. Goal: 50,000 words in 30 days. The rules don’t say the words have to be good, or coherent, or tell a decent story…the emphasis is on showing up every day and getting 50,000 of the little suckers down and counted.

I can’t help but think of Jack, in The Shining. “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” And crazy as bat shit, no matter how cleverly he spaced the words on the page.

So, I started on November 1, but at NO point did I say to myself, “Self, you HAVE to put 50,000 words down by the end of the month, no matter how bad they are.” I have my standards. I also have a life, two businesses to run, and a partner to love and adore–and all of that takes time.

“What made you decide to write another book?” someone asked me. Okay, I confess. I asked myself. And the answer is, It’s fun. It’s hard work, it’s challenging, but it’s immensly gratifying at the end of the road to hold a work in hand and say, “Wow. I did this. And, it doesn’t suck.””

I think it is this way with any creative endeavor. There’s the thought that inspires. There is the trepidation about beginning. (Blank page or canvas panic.). There’s the immersion in process–like a cold swimming pool, there aint’ no way fast into the water but to hold your breath and dive in. There is the occasional moment of exhiliration when it is going well, or despair when it isn’t. At the end, however, there is something that didn’t exist before, and never would have existed if you (or I) hadn’t made it so. Good, bad or indifferent. The result is important, but the process of creating is what it’s all about, at least for me.

What inspired me? I had a thought, on a rainy August night, on the front terrace of Casa de Mariposa Azul at Finca Luz, while watching the sunset over the volcano and sipping on my cheap Chilean wine. And the thought was, What if Nancy Drew and her sidekick George grew up, discovered they were, really, lesbians–forget about Ned what’s his name–, and moved to Panama? What if?

And from there, out of my childhood passion for mysteries, a story was born.

I  spent a lot of September and October doing character sketches, plot outlines, and research. I interviewed experts, studied maps, found arcane websites, grilled my attorney about legal matters, and visited the police station in David.  I have discovered a wealth of information about pirates, Venezuela, and smuggling. Regarding the latter, you simply would not believe the insane lengths people will go to in order to move a substance or item from point A, where it was illegally obtained, to point B, where it is illegal to possess. Really bizarre. Truth is stranger than anything I can make up!

What creative project is tugging at you? My suggestion? Begin. Make up your own NaWrNoMo parameter. Whether you hit the magic number is not as important as starting and seeing it through. Last week a good friend (and client) commissioned me to do a large painting. I’m terrified. I don’t know what to do. But, I can feel the germ of an idea lurking below the surface. I’m looking forward to it.  It will take time for it to sprout…and in the meantime, I have this book to finish. And rewrite. And rewrite again.

One third of the way through draft one. Lots of work to be done, claro que sea. Pero, I have a feeling that Chasing Tropical Ice may have legs. Just like my glass of cabernet. Stay tuned.