Writing on the water

Back ashore for a while, I’m missing our Roaring Girl. She’s currently ashore in Malta, after a great summer cruising around the edges of the Tyrennhian and Aegean seas.

Strange though it may seem, though,  it’s often easier to write when not aboard.  Or at least it’s easier to write creative fiction.  I write plenty when we’re cruising.  Look at our travelling blog.  I write it mostly for friends and family, so, according to that broadcast, nothing really bad ever happens to us.  (I didn’t even write about our rodent boarder till it was safely dead.)  And I keep a fairly regular journal, plus producing documents for clients for their various policy and strategy requirements.

The novel and short stories struggle a bit, though.  At www.writeonthewater.com, they’ve recently been speculating on this issue.  Tom Tripp, who specialises in large motor-yachts (trawlers in American), says this is because of the lack of space on a sailing yacht.  Much as I dislike agreeing with anyone from the stinkpot side, he has a point.  When I’m right in the zone, there’s no problem.  Getting there, though, might need lots of bits of paper and magazines, that special photo that reminds what a key character looks like, the article from New Scientist about volcanoes.  And however well-organised my finder-windows, however much I use drop-box, one small power book screen is not a substitute for a large desk covered in reference material.

The counterbalancing argument comes from the great Fatty Goodlander, who has been making a living and sailing around marvellous places for decades.  On his site, he tells how he got started.  I love the way he talks about being a typist, not a writer, and the anguish of his journey to doing it as well as he could, until it turned into not only a life but a living too.  He is one of the strongest exemplars of ‘just showing up’, and a great-writer-on-the-water.



About Sarah Tanburn

I'm a writer, a sailor and a strategic adviser to public organisations. Visit my websites to find out more.
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