write book

How I’m Going to be Writing My Own Stuff

This is something personal.

Since I created this blog, I’ve been talking about writing a lot. I’ve been moaning that I didn’t have the time to write when I was a teacher in China.

But what kind of writing did I want to do? That was the first question I should have asked when I launched myself on a journey to find a way to fit writing into my life.

I tried making it into a career.

I knew how I wanted to be writing.

I envisioned sitting by the beach with my notepad and pen. I had received a freelance assignment to rewrite someone’s website content. I would spend my day shaping who this awesome person is and her amazing stories. Or

I would be in communications typing marketing newsletters and articles. Then I’d sit in the meeting room brainstorming the latest marketing campaigns. Or

I was dashing news breaking travel and lifestyle journalist. I’d sit by my cubicle with a desktop, a mug of coffee at my side, ready to jump out and interview people for stories at a drop of a dime.

Well, they all came true….. sort of.

I did become a freelance writer. I wrote articles on teak trees, pin-hole eye glasses and HIV manuals in Vietnam. Not exactly beach writing material.

I entered marketing and public relations in Chile and Thailand. I wrote sales pitches, e-cigarettes, scholarship website copy, bios. The most exciting thing I got to a marketing campaign was creating a Mailchimp one. Woohoo.

And the dashing news travel journalist? I became a marketing journalist in the US being fed assignments that didn’t depend on quality but on how much SEO they can cram into them. I had the best timing. The world of journalism is being eaten away by catchy headlines and SEO.

As many can relate, your imagination doesn’t always match with reality.

It all felt empty too. Sure there were a few glimmers of receiving great assignments like public speaking, movie scripts, time management but they were far in between and most of the time I was writing stuff I felt…..blah about. I spent my days holed up in the house banging on my laptop. I barely talk to people. I don’t even know how they react to the garbage I’m churning. If this is the world you get paid to write, then I want out.

I wanted to be working on my own stuff.

I know I’m not going to get paid for it yet and I’m okay. It’s better for my health and sanity. I miss that feeling when words were dancing on the tip of my fingertips. I miss that feeling of being tortured, of tearing your hair as your mind searches for the right words, for that right paragraph. I miss that feeling when you are vomiting a stream of words of consciousness and it doesn’t stop and your hands are hurting but you can’t stop because they are going on and on and on.

I miss real writing, goddammit.

What do I intend to do?

  • Try writing for half an hour from Monday to Friday.
  • Join a writing group for accountability and ideas.
  • Dedicate one whole day a week to write.

Because it’s worth doing your dream every week.

Image Credit

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The Swords of Toledo and its Fairytale Medieval Town

We decided to take a day trip to Toledo from Madrid. It’s only half an hour on their high speed train so it was worth it.

like a fairytale

like a fairytale

Toledo used to be the capital of Spain before they moved it to Madrid. It is located on a steep hill and full of medieval and Moorish flavor. It used to be the center of learning under King Alfonso. It was one of the few cities in our world history where there was religious tolerance and Muslim, Christians and Jews all lived together peacefully. They even participated in this massive translating of important books and texts which would eventually be called the Toledo School of Translators.  Scholars congregated and translated the Bible, the Koran and the Torah and other important Greek and Roman works into  Hebrew, Latin, Arabic and Castiliian Spanish. According to this documentary, Michael Scot, a wandering polyglot scholar was looking for a school of learning. He thought the schools in Paris thought too highly of themselves especially for the kind of learning and students they were producing –not good enough. He found the school he was looking for in Toledo. Here was true learning – of three different cultures assimilating and learning from each other and reviving the Greek and Roman texts and knowledge.

Toledo is known for its swords. There are many Lord of the Rings replica swords. There are Western medieval swords. Celtic swords. Roman swords. And Moorish swords and scimitars.

Toledo is known for its swords in the world

Toledo is known for its swords in the world

We saw two beautiful places of worship – a Jewish synagogue and a Visigothic Christian church that combined their ethnic religious art with Moorish/Islamic art. Why you ask?

At that time, Muslim architects were well known for its intricate carvings and tiles. Everyone was striving to get them. Only the very best for us, thank you. You are Muslim? Yes, we’ll hire you. The Alhambra and the Mezquita are some of the finest examples of Moorish art.

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Moorish art in Christian church

Christian art

Christian art

Moorish arches

Moorish arches with Christian Byzantine iconography

Visigoth crowns

beautiful Visigoth crowns

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Jewish synagogue commissioned by Samuel Levi, the treasurer of Peter of Castille. Look at the Hebrew writings on wall reminiscent of Arabic writings you see in many Moorish buildings

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a very beautiful Torah

a very beautiful Torah

One city I’ll enjoy visiting again – Toledo

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The Royal Palace in Madrid and Spanish Ham

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The Royal Palace

We went to the Grand Palace in Madrid. It was huge and opulent.Too bad we couldn’t take pictures inside.

It was one huge palatial room after another. The Old Spanish are the experts of over the top ostentatious grandeur to the point it seems we are in a Las Vegas showroom. Everything was covered in gold. Their royal chapel was like a church in the Philippines with high vaulted ceilings and outrageous Catholic statues.

They have a throne room and oh, a crown room. They had galleries of armory and medieval weapons. Their dining room whole space could fit two of floors of my house complete with arching frescoed ceilings proudly showing off their conquered colonies. There’s even one scene of the Philippines showing off a woman picking bananas. How quaint.

The whole palace was basically a show of all the wealth the old Spanish conquistadors exploited and stole from their colonies — all the gold, tin, copper, silver and yes, bananas, sugar, coconut, tobacco and more. Here colonies, here’s all the wealth we stole from you on display to lavish on el monarchy. It was disgusting.

On a more positive note, I’ve had the chance to try Iberian ham or jamon in Spain and all the loathing and repulsion I had on our former colonizer melted away as I tried the nice dry salty ham.

my friend, Aaron's expression when he tried his first ham in Spain

my friend, Aaron’s expression when he tried his first ham in Spain

Oh Jamon!

Oh Jamon!

Most restaurants in Madrid would display many ham legs ripe for the quick tapas.

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It was to die for.

Tip: If you are in Spain and you want to have more of this delicious ham, go to the supermarkets and buy them. They’re only 1 Euro for one pack of 8 slices compared to 3 euros for the same prices in the restaurants. 

Tapas! Yum!!

Tapas! Yum!!

Happy Eating!