Going Back to Spain

I’m finally back into a groove with my writing.  I know where I want to add scenes, I’m living in my story.  I see everything so differently than when I began.  If I could start over, my writing would be better.  I’m not patient enough to start over, so hopefully this will be good enough.

This afternoon I’m expanding a scene in Barcelona.  It’s evening, my female protagonist is exploring the city with a new friend.  In order to write, I first needed to crawl back into my own memories of Spain.  Part of the reason that I chose to send my characters on journeys was so that I could have their adventures with them.  I want this to feel authentic, so I need to remember.

To help me go back, I pulled out my old photo album from my summer spent studying abroad in Spain seven years ago.  A lot has changed since then.  My boyfriend is now my husband.  We both look older.  The photographs were taken with film, the color and clarity is disappointing, (especially after scanning).  Instead of blogging, I wrote my family weekly emails, which are stapled together in the back of my album:

“Alex and I have reached our last stop together and it is going to be very hard to say goodbye… Paris was beautiful and the people were much friendlier than we expected… Madrid really comes alive at night and Alex and I enjoyed a three hour goodbye dinner in La Plaza Mayor.”

“I made it safely to Burgos and have a nice little room with a bathroom all to myself… It is strange being entirely alone in a foreign country.”

“At home when I go out with friends we leave around 9:30, here things do not get going until 2:00 in the morning and people stay out until it is light out… Spaniards actually do dance moves as opposed to standing around kind of moving, and everyone sings along to songs in the bars.  ‘La Camisa Negra’ is still stuck in my head…  The city is so alive at night and all kinds of people are out, young and old.”

“I thought it was funny today when we were walking and I found a flyer for where to buy pimps and hoes garb, a theme that sadly the clubs must have decided sells well to American college students.”

“Last night we took an evening bus back to Burgos from Barcelona.  The Northern Spanish countryside at dusk was incredible.  As it got dark we even saw lightning storms.”

That summer changed my life.  Rome, Venice, Cinque Terre, Paris, Madrid, Burgos, Barcelona, Bilbao, Salamanca.  I learned to travel alone.  I made new friends and confirmed my love for travel, (until that point it was all in my head).  I have been back to Europe twice since then, but nothing will ever compare to that first long adventure.  Fortunately, I can always go back with words, pictures, and “La Camisa Negra.”

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8 thoughts on “Going Back to Spain

  1. Sajib says:

    Glad to be on a writer’s blog! 🙂 From what I can tell, it’s actually better. Most of story writers whine about not being able to write good stories. We all know a good story is a piece of write-up that has been written thoroughly first and then edited over and over again until the writer is satisfied with it. You’re lucky to have found things where you can improve. Starting over may not be a good idea. Just keep working on this piece and don’t hesitate to replace or remove scenes or dialogues if you think that’s going to make the end result better.

    Good luck with your writing. 🙂

    • oliviaobryon says:

      Thanks for the advice and the encouragement! I won’t throw it out, I’m just very aware at how much I’ve improved from the beginning. I still have a lot of work to do so I just hope it’s for the better! 🙂

  2. neuroticnancy says:

    Man, I can’t wait to read this book!

  3. Covetotop says:

    If you enjoy writing your book, we -readers- shall enjoy reading it. For sure!

    • oliviaobryon says:

      Thanks, I hope so! Question for you, my new Spanish-speaking friend in Spain (I make the distinction because most everyone I know speaks Latin American Spanish, which I find to be slightly different). If I want to say:

      Hombres solamente como huéspedes de las mujeres. (Men only as guests of women).

      Is that the way I would say it? Or is there a way to phrase it that would make more sense to native speakers?

      • Covetotop says:

        Complex question. Complex answer. As you guessed, “Hombres solamente como huéspedes de las mujeres” doesn’t make much sense. Since the phrase has no verb, it does not state a complete idea, but this is not the main problem. If the context is something like an “entrance policy” or some sort of warning notice (a sign hung at a bar’s door), you’d better add a verb. However, if the context is that of a philosophy treaty, then everything is allowed …

        And take into account that “huésped” means “guest” in the sense of a hotel’s guest or a guest in somebody’s house. Perhaps, depending on the context (e.g: a bar) you prefer using “invitados” or “acompañantes” instead of “huéspedes”.

        In other words, for instance: “Sólo se admiten hombres como acompañantes de las damas” (“mujeres” is not polite in any entrance policy, you’d better use “señora” or “dama”). Or something like that. But context is key in any case.

        If you need any further help, please do not hesitate contacting your new Spanish-speaking friend in Spain 🙂

      • oliviaobryon says:

        You rock! That all makes total sense, (and it’s just another example of how hard it is to translate properly between languages). I was thinking more of the bar context and a sign I remembered seeing once (words forgotten). Thank you! It makes me wince to think of some of the silly things I must say to Spanish-speaking parents at our conferences. If you ever need the favor returned in English, let me know, (although it seems like you do a great job!).

      • Covetotop says:

        Great! Thank you!

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