We started this blog eleven months ago before we skipped town for Argentina. In that time, both K.B. and I have written novels, edited novels and traveled around South America . We learned a chunk of Rio Platense and not much Spanish. We also learned what we want to do going forward: we want to start our own publishing house.
To do this, we’re moving up from this would-be starter blog to our brand new, fully equipped website. The Found Generation turns into The Found Gen. We hope you like it.
After a year of dogged work, I read all the way through my story for the first time yesterday. And I found out it goes way too fast.
As I wrote it I was afraid of the existential crisis that I’ve encountered with other stories: that moment when you’re five pages into a heated discussion about toilet paper and you realize that you don’t know the point of what you’re writing. My main focus on this story was to avoid that snag at all costs. Well, the cost was that I left my characters without the opportunity to grow.
This deeply troubles me. I hope I can go back and slow it down, let the characters develop their relationships more organically cause if I can’t I have no book. I mean, I still think it’s a good story and the characters are good, it’s just their motivation is lacking.
It’s like the Harry Potter movies to me. They look good, the actors act well, but they gloss over all the details that make the books so wonderful. Watching them go through school kept me much more interested than finding out if Harry beats Voldemort.
Maybe I actually have a screenplay….
Neruda’s insignia decorates the town of Valparaíso. They are proud to call him one of their own.
La Sebastiana, Neruda’s home atop Cerro Bella Vista, looks over Valparaíso with one of the most awe-inspiring views in town. Taking a tour of his home definitely gave us a better sense of who the man was. A lunatic. He loved the sea, yet hated actually going out on a boat–so instead he designed his house to feel like one–tight, cramped and full of the weirdest collection of chotchkies including a large wooden horse straight off a carousel. He also was fond of entertaining–and insisted on having a bar in each of his houses (around Valpo alone, he had three)–he probably couldn’t have fit behind the one in La Sebastiana but it was there, ready for him to make his signature cocktail for all of his guests.
How would you deal with a sleazy property owner when it comes to breaking a lease? How about in Spanish?
Got any ideas?
There’s something about being a hard-edged renter that comes easier when you are negotiating in your native tongue.
Landlords and superintendents have, in my experience, never been the easiest of folk to deal with. Whether it’s repairing a busted plumbing system, putting in the flooring that was left half finished by the time of your move-in date, refunding your change that the busted coin-operated washer ate, or even just returning a call–it takes a bit of nagging and specific word choices to get the outcome you want.
But when you involve money–money they could lose by you not renewing their rent, or worse, leaving early–things tend to get ugly. That’s when key negotiating skills come in handy. I’ve learned a few tricks over the years (it comes along with living in the NYC territory), but I’m not quite sure anything is going to prepare me for figuring it out in Spanish.
In the meantime, I’ve got my dictionary and a slew of fighting words.
Our new website launch is mere days away. The most interesting part of this process, as well as the most frustrating, was the bits of coding language we’ve had to learn.
I can’t read html fluently or anything, but I can stare at it and figure out (ie make an educated guess) what it references. It becomes somewhat easy to fiddle with then; you just copy and paste the original code into a text document (so when you screw up and get a ‘fatal error’ you can revert the damage) and change it, save it and see what it looks like. If you are even somewhat google-adept it’s quite easy to search for code people have written and embed it into yours for what you want. There’s tons of forums out there where experts answer questions posed by people like me that have very little clue what they’re doing. The hardest part is figuring out what the hell they are talking about.
Most coders that I’ve encountered on this endeavor are not native English speakers, though a chunk are. They all use a, if I may, foreign dialect of English. They’ll define words like ‘broadcast,’ ‘path’ or ‘active’ completely differently than I have ever seen or heard. But someone from Indonesia can understand someone from Germany.
I’ve been wondering for a while what the world will be like once we all have a language in common. I’ve assumed for that while that English will be the answer in a generation or two; I never thought that coding languages like html have already crossed this bridge.
Valparaíso was almost the end of me when it came to the dogs. Stray dogs were everywhere. After watching them for a few days, and trying as hard as I could to not name and save them all, it was clear they created their own community and functioning society that ran along the sidelines of the people in this town.
The stairs in Valparaíso are not always kind to its inhabitants. We never braved going up this particular set for a couple of reasons. One, going down was tricky enough. And two, there was a working ascensor just a few blocks away. It should say something that the ascensor was at a lesser incline, at 45°. We did learn a nifty trick from this particular local–if you take the stairs in a zig-zag motion, you put less pressure on your knees and are able to take on more stairs. It was a bit entertaining at first, though, watching him slowly climb up the stairs walking from one side to the other all the way up. Ah, tricks of the trade.
All right, while the rest of you are enjoying summer to its fullest–swimming, drinking, bbq-ing and what not under the sun–we’re freezing our bums off down here. It’s July 2nd and it’s 3 degrees outside. Granted, that’s in Celsius but that’s still too damn cold for July.
Our single space heater is nuzzled between Linwood and I regardless of where we are in the house. Writing at the table? Check. Sitting on the couch? Check. Sleeping? Check. The only place we can’t take it happens to be the coldest in the house: the shower. The water pipes seem to have frozen over and our bulky water heater refuses to bring the water temperature any higher than lukewarm.
Our floor to ceiling windows that were so awesome in summer–now act as a curse. The cold air slips in from between the unsealed panes kindly making our apartment the same lovely temperature of brisk as it is outside. We’re forced to walk around in a daily uniform: wool socks, three shirts, hoodies, warm running pants and even occasionally hats and scarves.
When we’re taught about the world and its axis in grade school, its just a pretty theory. We understand the Southern Hemisphere is in winter when we’re in summer; that the Eastern Hemisphere is in day while we’re in night. We regurgitate the information and write it down on our 4th grade geography quiz proudly. But living reality–is a whole lot different than acknowledging the fact of it.
Christmas is sweltering. July is an icebox. Got it, check.
In between Valparaíso and Viña del Mar sits a small fisherman’s wharf. The space is riddled with over-sized pelicans, seagulls, and even sea lions riding the surf to catch their fair share of chum tossed back into the sea from the early morning catch. Under a set of old bleachers is an entire makeshift fish market. Freshly caught Reineta, Corvina, calamare, cangrejo and more are on sale for unbeatable prices, even for this small coastal town. Our only advice? Watch your step and wear a hat.