Abrazos y Besos, Mexico!

I'm so happy to have my friend and sister blogger, Clarissa Draper, visiting here today. Most of you probably know Clarissa from her blog - especially if you tried to decode her A to Z entries. I had so much fun :)

Clarissa is also the author of The Sholes Key, an excellent code-based mystery set in London. I can't wait for the second in the series to come out.

So I'm handing Clarissa the keys to the Tiki Hut. Y'all be cool :)

Three Things Mexico Taught Me About Writing

I have lived in Mexico for a few years now and it's the place where I was able to start writing full time. Mexican culture has taught me a lot and I guess some of it has affected my writing. Here's what I have learned:

(1) When You're Hot, Stop

From the month of May, the weather can get extremely hot. Some afternoons reach 40C/104F. When that happens, people either seek air conditioning or they take a siesta. That may mean stopping in the middle of a project, but when the weather cools down, they're eager to continue.

What does that have to do with writing?

I believe it's a good idea to stop writing when you're on a roll. When you're hot!  It comes down to enthusiasm. 

In an October 1935 article in Esquire ( “Monologue to the Maestro: A High Seas Letter”) Hemingway offers this advice:
"The best way is always to stop when you are going good and when you know what will happen next. If you do that every day when you are writing a novel you will never be stuck. That is the most valuable thing I can tell you so try to remember it."

(2) Read the Newspaper

In Mexico, almost every intersection has a man or woman selling newspapers and people buy them. With all the bad news, I'm not sure why people like to read the paper. However, people do. For writers, this is important as well. Not only do we keep abreast of current events, it is a wonderful source for story ideas.

(3) Take the Time, Do it Right

I hate cooking. If the recipe takes more than a half hour to prepare, it's not going to be made. That's one reason I don't make a lot of Mexican dishes. For great tasting Mexican dishes, a lot of preparation is needed. 

(a) Delicious salsas are made from scratch. Some even grill the peppers before they boil it and make salsa. 
(b) Tamales--and I have made these--are incredibly time consuming to make. You have to prepare the
masa, the filling and then wrap them carefully before steaming. That's why women often get together and make hundreds at a time.

Why go through all the trouble? Because when you take the time, the dish is muy rico!

Writing is the same. When we take the time to organize and edit our work, the results are a book you can be proud about. Don't rush through the editing, prepare a nice cover, and format properly. 

Have you ever been to Mexico?

What have you noticed?

My Links:
Twitter: @ClarissaDraper
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/Clarissa Draper


People take siestas in Arizona as well. Good analogy with the writing.
I have been to Mexico and I noted that most driving laws don't apply. (At least not in the area I visited.)
Shelley Munro said…
I always thought a siesta sounded lazy, but age has shown me how practical it is :)
I've spent a month traveling through Mexico and loved it. So much color everywhere you look.
Shirley Wells said…
Lovely to see you here, Clarissa. *waves to Carol*

I'd love to visit Mexico. One day, one day...

I so agree about stopping writing when we're on a roll. More often than not, I tend to plod on until I'm well and truly stuck. I shall try to remember this great piece of advice in future.

Bish Denham said…
Siestas used to be common in the Caribbean, but no so much any more. I've only been to Mexico once (years ago) and we just went across the Texas border to Nuevo Loredo for the day. I'm not sure if that counts!
L. Diane Wolfe said…
Never rush through the editing. Or worse, skip it.

We took a cruise to Mexico ten years ago. I remember lots of Coronas. And genuine Mexican ponies from Kentucky.
Melissa said…
I've never been to Mexico, but my father grew up in south Texas. For years, we bought homemade tamales from a lady in his hometown.

It's our family's tradition on Christmas Eve to eat a Mexican food meal, including tamales. When they're made right, they're to die for! Yum! We always buy extra and freeze them for later. :)
Melissa said…
Oh, and I might have to adopt the siesta practice. That sounds heavenly. ;)
I have never been but I really want to go someday. I have always been intrigued by Mexico.
Clarissa Draper said…
Yeah, the driving here is horrible!
Clarissa Draper said…
It truly is a beautiful country without the graffiti.
Clarissa Draper said…
If I stop when I am not on a roll, it is so hard to start again.
Clarissa Draper said…
I love taking siestas!
Clarissa Draper said…
I agree about the editing. Can't skip it. Lots of coronas here.
Clarissa Draper said…
Tamales are so delicious. Have you tried the dessert tamales?
Inger said…
Hello, Clarissa. I'm looking forward to the next book in the series. We had a place in Baja in the 1980s and 90s and enjoyed spending time there. Then, in Pasadena, we had Mexican neighbors and the grandmother would bring us a huge plate of tamales every Christmas. She was a wonderful old lady, she spoke no English, but we had no problems communicating.
C. Lee McKenzie said…
Such great bits of wisdom. The Mexican culture has much to teach the northern busy people.
Carol Kilgore said…
Homemade tamales are about the best things in the world. I tried to make them once. All I did was work for hours with nothing to show for it but a huge mess. And no tamales.
Johanna Garth said…
Those were such great analogies. Yes, stop when you're hot because it's easier to pick up again.

And guacamole...my favorite, easy homemade thing. :)
L.G. Smith said…
Took me awhile to really appreciate that first piece of advice. It really does help to stop writing when you're in the middle of a great idea. SO much easier to pick it up the next day and get rolling again.

And I make tamales every Christmas. Takes two days, but so worth it. Just like writing. :)
Rula Sinara said…
I haven't lived in Mexico, but I've gotten the flavor of it by living in Texas. I've had homemade tamales and they're to die for! As for restaurants, I liked going to authentic family run places :)

Love the tips and post!
M Pax said…
I haven't been to Mexico, but enjoy a nap. :) Especially before working at the observatory.

Slowing down is sometimes necessary. I'd rather have a quality first draft that requires less revision and editing than a hot mess done quickly.

Happy Monday, Clarissa & Carol!
Clarissa Draper said…
It really is a great country with great people.
Clarissa Draper said…
That is the only thing, I wish I knew Spanish better.
Clarissa Draper said…
yes, there are some great things about Mexico.
Clarissa Draper said…
Guacamole is delicious. And it's easy to make.
Anonymous said…
When I lived in Spain of course we had siesta's also. I have never been to Mexico.
Enjoyed the post very much. Thank you.

Robin said…
Great advice. Much of this can be applied to Plain Old Living as well as writing. Love it:)
VR Barkowski said…
Great lessons, all. Terrific post, Clarissa.

I spent one winter in Mexico, primarily along the coast of Baja and in Mazatlán. The weather was amazing. January was perfect. I remember friendly people. Even in the smallest villages the residents walked the paseo, and everyone would stroll and stop to chat. The food was incredible. Because I was on the coast, there was a lot of fresh fish, beautifully prepared, and very little of what Americans (I'm from California) consider Mexican food. I also remember very pebbly beaches and fresh, warm tortillas purchased on the street corner.

VR Barkowski
Great analogies! I love Mexican food, authentic and Americanized. I've never been to Mexico. I can't stand being hot :))
This is fascinating. I hate, loathe and despise heat (nearly as much as it does me) so sadly Mexico is not for me. Siestas are an excellent thing though.
And I do love the concept of stopping while things are going well and before they turn pear-shaped. Thank you.
Jo-Anne Meadows said…
I remember my nanna telling me she was going for her siesta each afternoon that was when I first heard the word........I also like an afternoon nanna nap but was convinced I shouldn't be having one that thought is fading and I am moving back towards my afternoon nap
Michael Di Gesu said…
Hi, Clarissa,

What great tips.... I am a FIRM believer in taking time to edit. ANything rushed is never good.

I also think it's a great idea to stop when you are on a roll, Hemingway had a great point.

And it's so true about taking time to make a meal. I LOVE to bake, but I do take the time to do it. IT is so worth the effort. BUT like those Mexican woman I make double batches of my biscotti.

Hi, Carol.

Thanks for featuring Clarissa today!
Helena said…
I've seen people in Egypt disappear in the heat of the afternoon, then come back and stay up late into the night when the air is cooler. Makes perfect sense.

And since I like code mysteries, Clarissa, I'm checking out your book.
Thanks for the great advice Clarissa! Mexico is such a beautiful place to live, and be inspired.

Linda Kage said…
I've never been to Mexico, but you still have AMAZING writing points! And usually it's easy for me to actually follow rule #1 because I have things interrupting me all the time and making me stop typing (usually against my will)!
Glynis Jolly said…

Mexico is a beautiful country. Some people aren't aware of this because they never get past the northern border towns or off the Peninsula of California. I hope you had a wonderful time.

I am now in the process of getting rid of the bad habit of rushing through the writing process. I'm a little better but I still need some improvement in enforcing the habit of taking as much time as it truly needs.
Gwen Gardner said…
You're making me hungry, Clarissa! I went to Acapulco and it was fun. But I grew up in San Diego on the Mexican border, so I'm very familiar with Mexican culture. No siestas for us, though, during the work week.

Hi Carol!
Pam Torres said…
Great post. There is a completely different feel when you slow down and enjoy the process and it's always a much better product.
Jennifer Shirk said…
I've never been to Mexico! But I LOVE your advice about stopping when you're on a roll. That does help when you go to pick up where you've left off.
Clarissa Draper said…
Thank you so much for having me here. It was a pleasure to guest blog for you.
Linda G. said…
Great advice, Clarissa! Only, now I'm craving Mexican food... ;)
Mason Canyon said…
Clarissa, terrific post with very helpful advice. Glad to see newspapers are still being read somewhere. Seems like it less and less around here.

Hi Carol. Always enjoy dropping by.
Emily R. King said…
Stop when you're hot. Hmm.. Interesting idea. I may try this. Thanks, Clarissa and Carol!
Julie Flanders said…
I've always wanted to visit Mexico, hope to make it some day.
Loved the advice, great post.
Great analogies, Clarissa!

Since my hubby retired in 2002, he's become a firm believer in daily siestas. I WISH I could take them, but I haven't quite gotten the knack yet. But sometimes, just lying down and closing your eyes for ten minutes is a real refresher.

At first blush, the idea of stepping away from writing when you're on a roll seems counter-intuitive. (I mean, how can I stop NOW??? The words are flowing, and my heart is pumping with excitement!) But after thinking about the concept, it's actually brilliant advise. It'd be much easier the next day to pick up a thread in the middle than to start a brand new one. (Now if I can only discipline myself to FOLLOW that brilliant advise!)
nutschell said…
I'd love to visit Mexico one day--the good, safe areas at least :) ANd yes I do agree about not rushing our writing!
Excellent points. Love them. =)
Great writing analogy. It's definitely true.

Delicious salsas are made from scratch. Some even grill the peppers before they boil it and make salsa.

I grill my peppers, I lightly grill my tomatoes to bring out a slightly smokier taste, and I mince up fresh cilantro from my garden... around here, salsa is serious business, and is eaten so much it might better be described as "drank." The extra prep is always worth it.
Anonymous said…
I loved these analogies between writing and where you live. I'd like to vacation in Mexico one day.
Romance Reader said…
Great writing analogies. We need siestas in our tropical country too.

Would love to visit Mexico.

I get ideas from watching the news, but I really should read newspapers. You never know when you'll get a great idea based on a tiny story buried in the middle of the newspaper.
Carol Kilgore said…
Thanks to Clarissa for such a great post and the analogy of the points of Mexican culture that apply to writing.

I love Mexico. I also love Mexican food. And Tex-Mex food. I've also been stopping while I'm on a roll this week. It seems to be working. Thanks again, Clarissa.

And thanks to all of you who commented.