Friday, June 05, 2009


There may be an opportunity in the near future for me to write some texts in Spanish on a recurrent basis. This is still very preliminary and I have no idea if it will ever come to fruition, but it has stirred all kinds of conflicting feelings inside me. On one hand, I am excited at the possibility of writing on a regular basis. I seem to be the kind of person who needs prompts and deadlines to get something going. It seems ironic, but boundaries of form, content and time seem to fuel creativity rather than stifle it, provided those boundaries can be trespassed.

On the other hand, I am terrified. It has been quite a long time since I have written regularly in Spanish. At work almost everything is written in English, and when I have written exchanges in Spanish with my Latin America counterparts they are conversational and quite short. What if I start writing in Spanish again and it turns out I suck? After years of working in Corporate America and writing mostly in English, my writing style (if it can be called that) is direct, minimalist and devoid of sophisticated flourishes. This works in a business context and in this blog, but it may handicap me.


  1. Maybe you are a bit rusty. Maybe, compared to what your Spanish was like when you spoke it more often, it will suck. Can you honestly say that would make it worth it to skip this opportunity?

    I don't even have to look at this as someone who's learning Spanish. I realize that wouldn't be applicable, because it's a very different situation for you. I can look at this as someone who lost quite a bit of her former mastery of her native language.

    Before I had the spinal tap and started taking the medicine to treat my neurological illness, my skull had filled with so much fluid it was choking my brain. I had to watch myself go from someone who always knew how to put some of the most complicated ideas into words other people could understand and enjoyed listening to, to someone who often couldn't find the words to say, "We should still have milk. Did you look in the back of the fridge?" And the worst part was that the thoughts were still in my head. I knew exactly what I wanted to say, but couldn't make very simple words and very short sentences actually form so that I could say it. I stopped blogging, answering email, or even talking on the phone unless I absolutely had to. When doctor's called, I asked them to talk to my husband because I couldn't trust myself not to become tongue-tied and frustrated, which always ended with me bawling like a baby. I used to believe I would be a professional author someday, and I lost so many of my words I couldn't speak to people I knew loved me and knew what was going on because, no matter how understanding they might be, I felt weak and ashamed.

    A year later, I'm nowhere near the point I used to be with my writing. I speak a lot better, though, and my writing is passable. I probably wouldn't fail an English test. I'm not ready to work on my book again, but I have hope again that I'll do it someday. It's not just because of the treatment helping my brain, but also because my husband is a very stubborn man who seems to think it's okay to tell me when I'm wrong. :) He let me give up the things that were making me really miserable, but he also refused to let me completely give up. And he reminded me that it would get easier in time if I'd just keep doing it.

    If your written Spanish isn't what it used to be, it's not going to get better unless you start writing again. And I certainly love it when you post things in Spanish on Twitter. Reading just a little Spanish had a time has really helped me. Muchos gracias.

  2. Your husband is a smart man. It's good having someone like that in your corner. To me you are quite eloquent and obviously are making a great recovery.

    I don't want to be glib and compare my situation to what you have gone through. Maybe it's more like doing a sport you were good at after being inactive for some time. You know the steps well, but your execution sucks.

    I certainly have not forgotten Spanish. However, because I have not been writing fiction in Spanish on a regular basis, I am afraid of not being able to write anything good. I am concerned about bringing over styles that fit better the English language, or even engaging in literal translations of English expressions, as opposed to using the proper ones.

    Each language has its own cadence, its rythym. I hope I haven't forgotten how to honor that in my Spanish writing.

  3. Go ahead and be afraid, but just don't let it stop you. :) People who do great things, on small and large scale, are often very afraid when they do them.

  4. I have to say that after reading Kelly's comment I am completely inspired. WOW. It is so amazing you didn't give up, Kelly. Wishing you greater and greater fluency with your writing.

    Ingrid, you will probably find it will all come back to you quite quickly. It is natural to be apprehensive but you are so talented you will have no trouble at all. Go for it, my dear!

  5. I think even if you are rusty, once you get back in the swing of it, you will be amazing.

  6. No restrinjas tus posibilidades al idioma. Lo que tiene que salir saldrá en el mejor de los idiomas de acuerdo a la narración. Que tu deseo sea solo eso y no una prisión del ser que añora nacer. Saludos de un puertorroro. Ah, y en español pa' que practiques el puertorriqueño.

  7. I can relate!

    Am totally rusty in the language I grew up with and I hate that! Used to be SO good at it too. :(

    I'm also rusty in Spanish so I'm looking forward to you rediscovering the language. :)

    The good news is, if you are forced to speak it for at least 2 weeks straight it all comes back.

    PS. A reason why I don't use it is because I'm afraid I'd miss my childhood country even more than I do already.