Saturday, December 25, 2004


“Waste no more time talking about great souls and how they should be. Become one yourself.” This quote by Marcus Aurelius sits on my desk as a reminder that the only way I can achieve greatness in all that I do in my life is to keep working at it.

I am trying to get inspired to start Chapter 3. I’ve already finished Chapters 1 & 2 and the plan is for 9 chapters total. So when I finish Chapter 3 I will be 1/3 of the way through with the first draft of my book! Of course the plan is for 9 chapters but now that I’ve really started writing I’m finding that plans do change as you go along. Sometimes it’s as if my characters change their mind about what they are going to do and the take off independently from me. I’ve already had one character change my outline.

I’m writing in my room right now. My in-laws called a little while ago and said they were coming over. My mother-in-law is coming over to make tamales. I love my in-laws but when they come over I never get any writing done, needless to say. I feel like I have to entertain even though they come over all the time.

I’ve tried to set up my room to inspire me. I’m surrounded by all my books. Julia Alvarez, Isabel Allende, Angelou, Baldwin, Bronte, Camus, Sandra Cisneros, Poe, Dante, Melville, James, Shakespeare, Amy Tan, Hemmingway, Hawthorne, Hardy and Neruda. I try to keep all of them in alphabetical order.

Honestly, I haven’t read all the books on my shelf but I’ve collected those I know I want to read someday. I’ve read all these writers and I know I like their work, but maybe not specifically the book on my shelf. I have a goal to one day read everything on my shelf and I tell myself I won’t buy any more books until I do, but inevitably I always buy more.

My desk faces a wall and I have a calendar of Frida Kahlo to my right. She too is an inspiration because of her spirit. Despite all her physical problems she was a great artist.

On top of my desk sit photos that inspire me. A photo of Rey holding Miranda, a small photo of me and my mother when I was a teenager, and a photo of Rey and me kissing when we were dating.

Three framed pictures my friend Liz gave me when I graduated with my Master’s sit on my bookshelf to my right. Each one has a beautiful quote from Maya Angelou about success. And then there’s the Three Graces. They remind me of the Prado and Spain. One of my favorite places in the world!

My desk has books that inspire me on the shelves and some writing magazines. I also have every paper I’ve ever written, 6th grade- my undergraduate years. I was an English minor so I have a lot of papers on various authors. I have them here in case I ever want to read one of them as an inspiration.

I wrote papers on works like, “A Farewell to Arms,” “The Death of Ivan Ilych” and “The Metamorphosis,” among many others. I have papers from two of my favorite classes I took at UH, Women in Literature, and American Fiction. Women in Lit introduced me to wonderful authors like Amy Tan and Zora Neale Hurston.

I’ve even written a list of people who inspire me to write and to finish my novel. People on this list include Elizabeth Berg. I read an article written by her in New Woman magazine over ten years ago where she discussed having cancer and how the cancer inspired her to finally write. I was inspired by her and then I came across the article recently and I decided to Google her. She’s still alive and she’s written many books since then.

There’s also Blak, a writer I heard interviewed on NPR who was a drug dealer and he overcame all kinds of adversity to write. He would be writing in his house, would stop to sell drugs and then would continue to write. There’s JK Rowling who was so poor she had to write in a coffee house to save on heat.

An LA actor and agent, Manny Jimenez, left life on the streets to open his own talent agency for thugs and “typical” looking Hispanics. Some people may say he’s exploiting his people but I say he has the last laugh all the way to the bank.

All these people inspire me to finish my novel and to believe that all that I dream is possible. When I get down on myself I think about these people and how they are ordinary people like me who believed in themselves and just did it.

I’ve created a nook for myself I guess you can say. Now only if I will allow all this inspiration to filter through to me and get me to write. Write write write! Start on Chapter 3!

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