The wind is kicking up again. This makes the fourth straight day. I try and ignore the creaking lines as wind backs to the east. It’s comforting in a way, to click away at my keyboard as Kwaietek gently rolls back and forth with the wind’s persuasion. (The howling gusts, I could do without however).
As I finish the latest chapter in my manuscript, I pause to count my words… over 40,000 now. I check my storyboard–half way through (almost). I try and calculate my progress- estimating the date I could finally say “Ta-da, ready for submission!” Of course, all of this only serves to quantify what I am creating–is it long enough?… Am I writing fast enough?…
Meanwhile, the boat continues to rock, the lines to creak and the tides to ebb and flow. I make a promise to myself to worry less about the how much’s and focus more on the how-to’s of the process. The characters start to talk to me as I write and as I dream. They already know “how to”… They guide the story, help me to find the best path through the complexities–and as far as they are concerned, it doesn’t really matter whether the novel will be 280 pages or 365 pages or what the final word count will end up. The novel will last until their stories are done. Simple as that.
I think that must be what Kwaietek is trying to tell me as well. “Just be in the moment, don’t over think it, don’t push it and don’t fret about it. Just do it.”
For a brief visual tour through some of the settings and characters in my latest book, Prepare to Come About, click this link to Youtube: http://youtu.be/9GH7eIYc2AQ
If you’ve already read the book, you may spot a few familiar faces and places. Most of the images in the video are from the various vessels–but then, who wouldn’t want to see tall ships and old wooden boats?
Many thanks to all of the passengers who sent in some of these pics over the years, as well as professional photographers Aaron Saunders, Didi Miles and Peter James.
The winds of November tear past my boat. I sit inside, warm and comfortable, watching as flags and halyards beat upon each other in the fury of the gale. Mozart plays on my computer. It is a good day for contemplation.
Today, I still grieve for my former shipmates who have passed on this month. Two larger than life, gentle men. Lovers of life, tellers of tall tales and great cooks, friends, drinkers. Both gone too soon from us–fighting battles against their respective cancers. How unfair.
I sat down a couple of days ago and wrote this poem. It is especially for Barney Higgins and Ian Relay, but also for all the good Zodiac crew–past and present, and in fact, for all sailors and lovers of the sea.
A Shipmate’s Departure
Zodiac rides at her moorings now, a hush is on her deck
A dock line creaks in protest as its tolerance is checked.
There is no noise, no movement here, all has come to rest
Even gulls do mute their cries, a shipmate’s passing to attest.
The ship recalls the deckhands’ who will linger here no more
Her wooden frames and planking store the memories of nine-score.
Remembrances of summers gone, of seasons long since past
Of souls who’ve raised her sails and climbed her towering masts.
The old ship knows her crews may change, new faces come and go
Yet their passion and their voices shall ring forever down below.
Each shipwright who has corked her seams, every seamstress that has sewn
Every sailor, cook or captain that the boat has ever known.
They all reside within her hull, when their time on earth ebbs low
And raise her sails anew each morn, to seek the north wind’s blow.
For lovers of the sea and ships are bound to this world they share
And Zodiac keeps many souls within her tender care.
So weep not for those who leave us, shed tears of grief no more
We will surely meet onboard again, as we sail towards heaven’s shore.
For Barney and Ian.
I made this Youtube video over a year ago. I feel that it sums up the dedication page in Prepare to Come About very nicely. “For my families–both blood and saltwater.
Somewhere along the way, I’ve learned that the old saying, “You can’t pick your family,” is entirely inaccurate. True, the members that make up your blood relations are not chosen by you, however if you are very lucky, then you end up finding your other family, those who can color your life equally and dramatically.
We were lucky in that way, and the stories and themes that are woven throughout Prepare to Come About exemplify the ties of both types of our families. The peaks, the ebbs and the strong bonds of those connections are quintessential to the book.
I’ve enjoyed the entire process of writing and editing the chapters of my book. Through the work that has gone into the memoir, I’ve discovered quite a bit about myself and grown to appreciate those families even more than before–during both the good and the bad times.
In the last few months, we’ve had a few losses in our families, by unexpected illness, emotional distress and accidents. Several of them are characters in the book. I’m grateful that they’ll always be a part of my story, both on the page and in my memories. John Lennon said it best. “Life is what happens when you’re making other plans.”
I hope that you’ll enjoy the video, the scenery alone is worth the watching. A special thanks to new friends Forest Sun and Ingrid Serban for their song Twenty Toes in the Sand.
It has begun!
If you’d like to order a “hot-off-the-press” Prepare to Come About book, you can get it now at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00OVDSBF8 and at the e-store for Createspace: https://www.createspace.com/4826379
(other e-reader formats to be available within the next two or three days)
Monday October 23rd is the date that Amazon will have it available in print for sale.
Color me happy!
Prepare to Come About is ready to launch!
I’ve temporarily put the writer mode on hold and switched to marketing director mode. Everything is rolling full steam ahead for when I hit the “publish now” button.
Excited? You bet!
I will be reading excerpts from PtCA at Grass Roots Books & Music on /November 19th (Wednesday) @ 7PM. 227 SW 2nd Ave in Corvallis, Oregon.
Sunday afternoon, December 7th at 4PM in the Readings Gallery of Village Books in Old Fairhaven 1200 11th St, Bellingham Wa.
I hope that you can make one of these events. (More upcoming author events in Seattle, Tacoma and Olympia coming soon)!
The howls from the old boat next our slip had increased dramatically by the second day. “Do you think we should go over and investigate?” Jeffery asked.
“I dunno. Nobody’s been on that boat for months–ever since we complained about the constant parties. How’d they end up with a dog onboard I wonder.”
“Well, we either need to let it out or check to see if somebody has died. I can’t stand listening to it bark and howl.”
With that, my husband walked across the dock and climbed aboard the listing old workboat, rescuing a frightened old dog and changing our lives.
Read more of this essay on the Flota-Navium post
Calypso needs to be in the middle of everything.