Writing in the Dominican Republic

I met Lindsay de Feliz, author of What About Your Saucepans? and Life After My Saucepans, through a wonderful Facebook group called We Love Memoirs, and it was instant admiration. Her story is gutsy, heroic, and so, so different from my own that I had to share it with you. When I asked her to be a Choices guest she immediately said yes, and within a few days she sent me a story about her writing life in the Dominican Republic.

My Writing Life in the Dominican Republic – Every Cloud has a Silver Lining

by Lindsay de Feliz

I was not a writer when I arrived in the Dominican Republic in 2001; I was a scuba diving instructor. I used to write a long email once a month to around 100 friends and family and often they would say you should write a book, but I didn’t think about it until I was shot in 2006 and was no longer able to work in diving.

I was shot at 10.30 at night, and I remembered the first 15 minutes but then had no recollection of anything for around 6 hours, although I am told I was never unconscious, until I had had chest drains inserted in the Emergency Room of a hospital in the capital. I really wanted to know what happened during that time, so I asked all of those who were with me at the time and wrote it all down. That became Chapter 5 of my first book and just sat there for the next 4 years until I started writing seriously in 2010.

I wrote about my whole journey during my time in the DR and by the beginning of 2011 I had what I thought was a book, so I googled names of publishers and checked out what was involved in self publishing. I decided I didn’t have the skills to self publish so I started writing to publishers and providing them with the information they asked for. Some wanted just one chapter, some three and some wanted a synopsis.

The replies varied from “Not right for our list” whatever that means, to no response at all, to an encouraging reply but saying it needed editing and giving me the name of the editor. I contacted the editors, all of whom wanted money to edit, naturally enough, but we were pretty broke at the time and the few hundred dollars would take a long time to save up. But I did save it and sent a chapter off for editing. It came back with a few changes and off it went back to the publisher who came back with “Not right for our list”. Why the hell they couldn’t say that in the first place before I had to pay hundreds of dollars to edit it?

In the end one publisher, Jo Parfitt from Summertime Publishing, which specializes in expat books agreed to take it on, but on two conditions. One, I had to start a blog and have 3,000 visitors to it a month, and two; I had to rewrite it, adding much more dialogue and “show and not tell”. I sorted out the blog and in the first month it had three visitors – two were me and one was my mum. Within four months I had reached 3,000 visitors a month, and began the rewriting – a hard task but I learned so much, that when I submitted my second book for publishing some four years later, not one single edit was made, not one word changed from my draft.

Now I write for a living, whether it be my books, articles about the Dominican Republic and about expat life, and I love it, although I still describe myself as more of a story teller than a writer. The way I write  is like going to the toilet. I like to wait and wait and wait until I can’t wait any more and then the pure pleasure of actually putting fingers to the keyboard is fabulous. Just like when you find a toilet when you have been bursting to go for ages!

And if I had not been shot it would never have happened. Clouds and silver linings.

Another silver lining is the beauty of the Moncion Dam, which is just up the road  from her house.

So far I’ve read and reviewed her first book, What About Your Saucepans? and plan to read her second soon. Here’s my review:

Reading What About Your Saucepans? By Lindsay de Feliz taught me a huge lesson. Her story and her life are so far afield from my own, that all the while I was reading her memoir, I kept thinking: how can she do that? how can she live like that? how can she survive that? Thoughts that never went away throughout the entire book. So, what I learned is the importance of reading about other cultures and getting to know the people living in them.
Author de Feliz left her job, marriage, and successful life in the United Kingdom to become a scuba diving instructor in the Dominican Republic. And within weeks she began a relationship with a pedicab driver who took her back and forth from work. One day he moved into her apartment with all his stuff transported in a bed sheet. I won’t get into more of these details for fear of spoiling the story for you. Let it suffice to say, Mrs. de Feliz has had a very happy life with this man – many times happier than the life she left in the UK – even with the country’s abject poverty, its cultural habits so different from her own, almost dying from a gunshot wound, lack of privacy with hordes of people in her yard and house from early morning until late at night, and a blatantly corrupt government that literally stole an election away from them. Through it all she persisted. Through it all she is still there and deliriously happy.

Mrs. de Feliz’ writing brings out the details of her story beautifully. She writes clearly, simply, and as one of my favorite writing instructors taught me, she writes like she talks. She provides details described in her memoir in a true and honest way. I highly recommend What About Your Saucepans? I couldn’t put it down, and I suspect you won’t be able to either – especially after you find out the story behind the title.

More about Lindsay de Feliz

Lindsay de Feliz was born, raised and educated in the UK, gaining a degree in French and German at Wolverhampton University, and an MBA at Bradford University. She worked as a marketing lecturer and was Marketing Director for various financial service companies. She then decided to follow her dreams and travel the world as a scuba diving instructor, ending up in the Dominican Republic. (This photo was taken the day she was sworn in as a Dominican citizen.)

Arriving in the Dominican Republic only for a six month contract, she ended up staying, marrying a Dominican, and becoming a stepmother to three young boys. She was then shot in her own home during a burglary and following a long fight against corruption along with her husband, left the life of an expat in a tourist resort to live first in a Dominican town and then in the mountains.

Lindsay published the highly successful memoir, What About Your Saucepans? in 2013 about the first ten years of her life in the Dominican Republic and now lives high up in the Dominican mountains, on a small farm, along with her husband Danilo, three dogs, two cats, one permanent and one temporary foster child and too many chickens to count. She works as a writer, translator, and marketing consultant.

Lindsay writes a blog about the Dominican Republic and daily life here.

Comments

  1. Madeline, what an amazing new insight you shared with all who read Lindsay de Felix’s magical new beginning propelled by raw courage in the DR in her quest to find passionate happiness from the inside out.
    Thank you so much for sharing your astute inspiration for writers.
    Jody

  2. Thank you so much Madeline for asking me to write a guest post and for reading What About Your Saucepans? and giving it such a lovely review. Am very pleased we met up in the We Love Memoirs FB group!

    • You are very welcome. I’m pleased we met as well. I wish you huge success for your second and upcoming third novels, which I promise I’ll read at some point.
      And thank you for your wonderful review and support of my memoir Leaving the Hall Light On.

  3. I love the way this writer kept going, getting her story out there. It is such a process! Good for her. I’ll check out the memoir.

    • Hi, Joanell, Thanks for coming by Choices. Yes, Lindsay de Feliz tells a fascinating story. I highly recommend her book. And I’m looking forward to hosting you here soon. All best, Madeline

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