Anabel González

I was considering whether to upload this post or not. But then I thought you would understand me better than anyone. You are also writers.

I'm in the process of translating my book while I'm revising. I know what are the things I have to change, the things I should avoid, but I am not able to do it.

It's so hard to accept that you know what you have to do but can’t do it! Sometimes I can’t find a stronger verb to replace an adverb. It sometimes seems impossible to me to know if I am showing or telling, I know the things that identify it but it is difficult to know when it’s appropriate to use each one of them. I know all writers battle with this.

There is also the dialogue, I know I should not explain much in dialogue but what if the narrator is a person who thinks and analyzes everything? I don’t want to bore the reader but my narrator is a person who feels what other people feel, so she constantly perceives things in the midst of situations and conversations, and she gets conclusions in the middle of them about what is happening. I avoid her to think or talk to herself through the dialogues?

Surely at some point I'll find the solution and is only a process but now I feel useless as a writer. I know that most likely this is also a problem of English not being my native language and it’s harder for me to find new words. That I must continue trying and that eventually it will be easier but right now I’m in a hole.

Really it has been a very difficult day with my writing, so much so that my SIL called from Spain and as soon as she heard me she knew I was depressed. She argued with me for half an hour for not having the Messenger of AOL which is what connects to the internal messengers of many companies and that way I could have talked to her about it when it was happening. Yes, i am a stubborn I have MSN, yahoo and Skype so I could have AIM. So I’m installing it also, another messenger to the pile ( is what you need when everybody is far away) I would love to talk more with my SIL and my phone service only gives free calls to Mexico, United States and Canada, so this is the solution.

Well finally talking about what matters I'm depressed and I do not know what to do with it but deep down I know I'll go out of this hole, that this is something I must do if I want to write in English. Probably tomorrow I will get up with a better attitude.

For now I feel relieved to have taken it out of me, to express what I really feel. I told my SIL, but she doesn’t understand because she isn’t a writer, so sometimes I can imagine her face of: are you really depressed about that?

I hope you understand me and not get bored with this post; I assure you that tomorrow I will return again to be me...

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23 Responses
  1. veijukka Says:

    Words fail all of us sometimes. I've been in a several year dry spell myself - even my beloved stories and characters fail to pull me out of my career-induced apathy. But when words are your path through life, you'll always find your way back to it. I applaud you for taking the challenge of writing in a language other than your own.
    Perhaps take a break of a few days to just read things that you enjoy. I've found reading poetry to be an excellent way of discovering new words or uses for words that inspire me to create my own turns of phrase. Or take a break from words entirely and just experience life for a few days.
    RE: dialogue...characters can reveal a lot about themselves, their motivations, their flaws or strengths, their very sous by what they say or don't say, and where, and when, and how they speak. Remember that theatrical plays provide story almost entirely in the form of dialogue. Strong plays manage to do so without the use of a narrator to "tell" the story.

  2. I am starting again after a pause for the holidays and the vacations of the kids. Maybe I am slow because I lost practice...
    dialogue: But when she senses a feeling different from what a person is expressing with his words is correct that she talks to herself of it?
    Uff it's going to be difficult to make her shut up she is always thinking!!

  3. Yes, you can! I believe in Spanish it's, Si se puede, but I could be wrong.
    You can do it. It's hard, but writing is supposed to be hard.
    I get depressed about my writing ALL THE TIME, but somehow I get through it because I know in my heart that this is what I'm meant to do, and there's nothing else I want to do.
    I think your English is very good and it will only get better as you continue to work on your story.
    I think you should follow your instincts when you hit a wall, and don't analyze everything too much.

  4. veijukka Says:

    Maybe she could experience the difference between what people say and what they actually feel as something other than thought? A physical sensation - sick to her stomach, or a migraine, or an itch on the back of her head, flashes of light in her vision?

  5. Yes usualy she feel other emotions as if they where hers. coming like waves flooding her something like that. Maybe I can put the emotion or how she is feeling it but not make conclusions.
    Thank you very much!

  6. Thank you so much!! Yes it is in spanish "Si se puede"
    I know as you say in my heart that this is what i want to do and this is only something that comes with it, depression and frustration.
    sometimes is hard but I feel I'm getting better in english. I hope I can do so in my writing also!

  7. bogwitch64 Says:

    Honey, could you be trying to do too much at the same time? If you're struggling with show and tell, with characterization, and all these writing puzzles we try to work out AND translating at the same time, you're going to go loco.
    Write in Spanish. Revise in Spanish. Learn all you need to learn about writing in your native language. THEN translate.

  8. shoebrera Says:

    I'm sure there's a writers group in your area. If not, look online. In Spanish. She's right; do it in Spanish so the words flow for you. Then translate it. Your English isn't perfect, no, but that's true of 70% of the people I've met who were born in the U.S. You're doing great and getting better.
    Yes, you CAN do it. You WILL do it. You're a writer deep down in your heart and in your soul.
    The others are right in everything they've said to you. Accept it and hold it close to you. It's sage advice.
    If you cannot find a group online and you wish to express it in English, I am a member of a group of writers who share and critique each other's work. There's a group out there for you. You'll find them. Online help is great. But if you're very lucky, you'll find an in-person group as well. You'll have faces to look at and their comments will be heard with your ears instead of your eyes.
    They make notes on their copy of your 1500-word submission (different word counts vary for each group) and then return it to you. There are some with ugly (not their appearance) people. But there are more out there where the people are beautiful.
    I don't know how you'd feel about them, but I invite you to take a look at the one I joined. They're at www.writersgroup<prose@ Maybe they can help. I know a young man in India sends stuff to us to read and critique.
    I wish you well. You're tackling a much higher mountain than I.

  9. robinellen Says:

    I can't even imagine trying to write in another language -- so I hope you realize how impressive this is! I'm sure it must be horribly frustrating, but you doing something quite amazing here :) (And you're making great strides forward!) (((HUGS)))

  10. musingaloud Says:

    Yes the writing life is hard, because we don't have anything to gauge how we're doing. Plus it seems most of us tend get down on ourselves and our abilities more than we should. It think it's all just part of the game. That's why LJ is so great because other writers *do* understand what you mean, even if our own problems are somewhat different (like I'm not writing in a language that's not my first language), there are a lot of things that we have in common. Now for me, and age, I find I'm forgetting words. I'll know the meaning of the word I'm looking for and that it starts with a "m" for instance, but can't bring it to mind. I'm getting better about typing in the meaning in all caps and coming back to it later, and usually the word just pops into mind then. It's always something. All we can do is plod on forward.

  11. I revise a chapter in spanish and when I got it perfect is when I translate it but the problem is when I have to search for a stronger verb or use words that show. Because maNy words in spanish show but translated they tell. I don't know if I explain myself correctly. But the thing is that for example dialogue is different in spanish and in english that is why I'm struggling when translating.
    I think that my mind today is more open and I moved forward two more pages, I feel better. And also I'm reading more in english I hope that helps my mind to connect to the english writing.
    Thank you very much Terri for always giving me your wise advice!

  12. writerjenn Says:

    You are writing a book in a language that is not your native language. That is very difficult, and it is not done in a day. So naturally you will have days like this, when you stop and feel how difficult it is.
    But you are doing something amazing, and learning every day. Amazing!

  13. Thank you very much for your encouraging words. It's been hard for me to find a writing group. I didn't found any in mexico or at least there is no group open or found more writers here. I'm trying in english because is the language I want to write , the language is better for the kind of books I write but I haven't found a writers group even online. Is hard when you say your native language is spanish ( many people never answer)
    All i know is because thank God I found tracy_d74 and she has teached and helped me. She is great!
    But I know that I also have to find a writers group.
    I went to look at the link you gave me but it says the link is wrong. Can you send it to me again please?
    Thank you again for your good wishes and help!:)

  14. Thank you for the encouraging words Robin! Yes , it's frustrating but no one told me it was going to be easy.
    Now I am more motivated!:)

  15. Thank you very much Jenn!
    Yes, sometimes it hits me how hard it is but I have to move on.

  16. Yes, Lj is great I found friends like you all that can understand me and I can talk about what I feel!
    With words I am doing what you say, put the meaning of the word I want to find in the place and move forward, then I go back and use a dictionary or babylon until I find it.
    Thank you so much for your kind words!:)

  17. bogwitch64 Says:

    It must be so hard. The differences in language isn't just in words. You're working so hard! I am proud of you, love!

  18. ghostlychaos Says:

    I think all of these things you mentioned affect most writers.
    Even if you know what you should change, it's difficult to know how to change it for the better. Telling versus showing is always hard, I think, especially because most writing is a combination of showing and telling. But it's not easy to learn when it is appropriate to tell rather than show. And part of the showing versus telling argument is how information is revealed to the reader.
    You can do that through dialogue or through the character coming to the realizations themself, if you feel like that's what should happen. If your character internally analyzes everything, then I think it's appropriate for her to narrate through her logic. But maybe there is a line of revealing too much in that way because then it would make it seem as if the novel is all telling. Somehow, I think the best bet is a mixture of the two. You can show and tell, and reveal information through both dialogue and inner monologue.
    Knowing when to do which or how to utilize these tools is part of growing as a writer. I think we all deal with these subjects, and we want to know how to do things "right" when in reality there is no one right way to write a story. All we can do is write our best, tell the story we want to tell, create the character we want, and that's that. All these little things that come along with being a writer will develop naturally over time with more experience. It's best not to dwell on what you think you should be doing, and just do what you want. Because we're not writing to please the world and what is expected of us. We're writing for ourselves. That means we're not perfect, but we try our best and get better the more we write. Just never stop trying, never stop writing. You'll get to where you want to be, it just takes time. :D

  19. thank you so much I will not stop trying!
    I think I will try whta you are saying a mix of dialogue and inner-monologue.

  20. tracyworld Says:

    Anabel, I'm late to this discussion but wanted to tell you, again, how impressed I am with what you're doing. I've been struggling with my own writing, and it's in my native language. I cannot imagine the difficulty of what you're doing.
    I wish you could tackle all this (characterization and dialogue) in Spanish rather than in English.
    I'm rooting for you!

  21. The problem is the diference in dialogue for spanish but I think I am goin to find a way eventually. I will continue revising in spanih and then translating and then revising again. Uff
    Thank you so much Tracy. I really appreciate it!:)

  22. jennygordon Says:

    I know this is a few days after you originally posted, but I just wanted to say that it's okay to feel bad about your writing from time to time - I know I do, and I also struggle to find the right words sometimes AND I'M WRITING IN MY OWN LANGUAGE! I think it's amazing that you're writing in a second language, so don't lose sight of how incredible that is in itself.
    Re. your analytical character, perhaps the key is to show her thinking and talking analytically in small chunks so you don't overwhelm the reader. It's absolutely fine for her to behave that way and after a while, once the reader gets to know her, you can use a kind of shorthand when it's not important to actually write everything she's thinking/saying.
    The most important thing is to enjoy the writing, so try not to beat yourself up over it. *Hugs*.

  23. Thank you so much for your words and also the advice for my analytical character!
    I will enjoy writing, I really love it!:)

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