August and the Language Barrier

One of the most difficult battles in my writing career has been the language barrier. Spanish was, and remains, my native language. The American Dream has reached outside North American borders, and I wanted to become a writer with a publisher in New York City. I figured all I had to do was write in English. A simple plan, right?

At nineteen, I was blessed with a job where I had to speak and write in English. Then there was the reading. Every early customer presented me with books. That’s when I discovered Robert Ludlum, Tom Clancy, Ken Follett and Clive Cussler. I got proficient, and people kept telling me I was good at speaking too. Match that praise with the desire to put ideas in writing and you have a recipe for publishing dreams.

I started my first novel in 1998 and made the rookie mistake of showing it to people who cared for me and didn’t want to break my heart. I can’t help but wonder if someone who disliked me would have helped me improve faster.

The very best thing I’ve done is investing in the Merriam-Webster and Oxford English dictionaries.

The second thing that helped me improve has been the support of native speakers willing to go through hell correcting the typos that would spring out of nowhere as they tried to navigate my stories.

I have writing friends who show me mistakes and help me make corrections. I will not claim I am master of the language, but one of those friends claims she can now concentrate more on plot or character development than grammar mistakes. And although the wars on Oxford comma and splitting infinitives still rage on, at least the difference between irony and coincidence is no longer a mystery to me.

The August edition of The Big Thrill is out and I contributed a piece about Preston & Child's new book Old Bones:

Up Close:  Preston and Child by J. H. Bográn: http://bit.ly/2K5NNbk 


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