Opening, Self’s Camarote de Marinero

What do you think?

  • On the last day of November, on the feast of Saint Andrew the Apostle, the Genoese pilot of the Santa Maria found a current.  It led to a vast and peaceful ocean, an ocean whose purring sighs and amber warmth held us firmly in its liquid embrace. The weather was mild, the sea an unbroken stretch of glass. Suddenly, we forgot scurvy and exhaustion, and even the last dreadful sight of the men put ashore in Guam, the ones slain by the cannibal Chamorros.  The terrible screams from the beach had carried across the water to the black ships.  Oh, the horror!

I think this is READY.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Synopsis Is Hard to Write

Self keeps re-reading Camarote de Marinero, and so far she really likes it (lucky!) It’s written mostly in epistolary form, in very florid language. For example:

Letter to El Adelantado Miguel Lopez de Legazpi from His Royal Catholic Majesty Philip II:

  • If indeed they were turned into slaves, ourselves shall rescue them. Lest we give our cousins the Portuguese and our enemies the Dutch and the English occasion to lose their respect for Spain.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Now to Write a Synopsis

There was the glaring sand, and the fringe of coconut trees.  Hovering above the trees was the spine of a mountain. And beyond? Only a profound and mysterious silence.

— self’s novel of 16th century Philippines, Camarote de Marinero

One Last Read-Through: CAMAROTE DE MARINERO

“But,” the Archbishop continued, looking carefully at Matias, “you need not concern yourself with that. Mindanao is the Governor General’s problem. These are the matters that you must report on: number of baptisms; deaths, of officials and clergy; fires; condition of the ports; salaries, especially if there are upward adjustments; arrivals and departures; conflicts; fiscal status; the foundation of hospitals; prices of commodities and goods; taxes; tributes; profits; ordinary expenses; relations with the Sangleys (that is what they call the Chinese); the influence of local healers.”

Camarote de Marinero, Part I, Extranjero

Self is quite proud of that little passage.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Camarote de Marinero: At Last!

Self has been working on this novel for ages. Writing historical fiction is hard.

They were not as accomplished at sea voyaging, not like their cousins the Portuguese. Those, perhaps less sure of their ability to hang on to Iberian earth and rock, had begun voyaging a century earlier. Everywhere a Portuguese ship went, that was Portugal. The ship’s deck became Mother. The ports they entered were also Mother. The Mother’s embrace gradually spanned worlds.

The Economist: Books of the Year 2020

A list from a list (highly idiosyncratic — in which self decides which kind of writing she’s going to spend most of 2021 doing)

BIOGRAPHY AND MEMOIR

  • A Promised Land, by Barack Obama – “A reminder that the 44th president is one of the best writers ever to serve in that office”
  • Stranger in the Shogun’s City, by Amy Stanley – “The everyday struggles of an obscure woman in Tokyo in the first half of the 19th century”
  • Kiss Myself Goodbye, by Ferdinand Mount – “The hilarious tale of a . . . pathologically inventive aunt in raffish, upper-class Britain either side of the second world war”

HISTORY

  • A House in the Mountains, by Caroline Moorhead – “Weaving deep research into a compelling narrative . . . about four women fighting with the partisans in northern Italy in 1943”
  • Alaric the Goth, by Douglas Bain – “Colorful portrait of the city and empire in the fifth century”

FICTION

  • The Slaughterman’s Daughter, by Yaniv Iczkovits – “Late 19th century picaresque about a Jewish mother in the Pale of Settlement who sets out to retrieve her wayward brother-in-law in Minsk”
  • Shuggie Bain, by Douglas Stuart – “Coming of age in Glasgow in the 1980s”
  • Homeland Elegies, by Ayad Akhtar – “Part autobiographical tale about growing up as a Pakistani-American through the age of 9/11 and then Donald Trump”
  • Burnt Sugar, by Avni Doshi – Opens with “I would be lying if I said my mother’s misery has never given me pleasure.”

CULTURE AND IDEAS

  • Leo Tolstoy, by Andrei Zorin – “Weaves together his times, his writing, his faith and his political activism”

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

  • Apollo’s Arrow, by Nicholas Christakis – “the history of plagues”

BUSINESS AND ECONOMICS

  • No Rules Rules, by Reed Hastings and Erin Meyer – “The boss of Netflix and his co-author explain how he arrived”

“Soy la voz de Dios”

Translation: I am the Voice of God.

These words are carved into a massive bell in a church in the Philippine province of Iloilo (just across a narrow strait from Dear Departed Dad’s home province, Negros, in the central Philippines) The bell weighs 10.4 tons, don’t even ask self how workers managed to get it up into the bell tower. Can you imagine that ringing for every mass? The sound is very deep.

Self decided to write a new chapter for Camarote de Marinero today.

It begins:

When he first met Ta-hum, who was his cook, his factotum, who cared for him the way a mother cares for a child, even though she was 10 years younger, he himself had been a young man, with all the imperfections of youth.

Now?

Soy la voz de Dios, he intoned.

Tahum is a Hiligaynon word meaning “beautiful.”

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Camarote de Marinero: Self’s MC Meets the Archbishop

The Archbishop to Matias:

These are the matters that you must report on: number of baptisms; deaths, of officials and clergy; fires; condition of the ports; salaries, especially if there are upward adjustments; arrivals and departures; conflicts; fiscal status; the foundation of hospitals; prices of commodities and goods; taxes; tributes; profits; ordinary expenses; relations with the Sangleys (that is what they call the Chinese); the influence of local healers.”

— Excerpt from self’s novel, Camarote de Marinero

#amwriting About Voyaging

They were not as accomplished at sea voyaging, not like their cousins the Portuguese. Those weak cousins of theirs had voyaged far earlier, perhaps less sure of their ability to hang on to Iberian earth and rock.

Everywhere a Portuguese ship went, that was Portugal. The ship’s deck became Mother. The ports they entered were also Mother. The Mother’s embrace gradually spanned worlds.

Blair & Robertson: A HISTORY OF THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS, vol. 13

  • Permission is given (February 23, 1604) for the Augustinian Recollects to establish themselves in the Philippines.

More than four centuries later, self starts to write a novel about an Augustinian priest who is sent to the Philippines to fight demons.

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