When my 82-year-old mother visits Sea Venture, she comes laden with a stash of books that she passes on to me. I remember How Starbucks Saved My Life from last year. It wasn’t brilliant, but it did amuse.
This year I discovered a new-to-me author, John Galsworthy, and his One More River. British literature of a certain era delights me. I love the fluid prose, the humor sneaking up from the words, the delightful sense of the ridiculous: comedy of manners that makes you want to read more, not so much to find out what happens next, but just because the reading itself is a pleasure: the juxtaposition of words well crafted; the sparseness of detail that yet develops character. And, oh, the sense of right and wrong that still prevailed in the 30s: the absolutes perhaps not always absolute, but with a sense of idealism that wars against reality.
A former critique partner wrote recently that she owed me a review. Thrilled, I sent her my latest manuscript and told her to read for content or for any stumbling block, such as too much back story too early in the game.
She has been posting comments — much appreciated ones. She’s the sort who might say the writing’s good, but she won’t pussyfoot around when it comes to content. That’s the sort of reader every writer needs. Her caveat is that I judge her comments through the filter of my own experience, accepting those that are valid. Every one she’s sent so far has been insightful — and answered questions I didn’t know I had.
Local knowledge is the one exception.
My cousin and his wife took us to dinner last night (and let me tell you, if you ever get to Morehead City, NC, you’ve got to visit William’s; it’s unprepossessing on the outside, but rivals the best in terms of food.) As we scarfed down our salad course, I interviewed my cousins to clarify the issue: could the scene I’d written happen here or would the circumstances and setting be more as my writer friend had suggested?
Local color, local knowledge. We’ve got to get it right, even if what we describe seems odd to those who live elsewhere. My cousins were adamant: The down-home scene with the down-home props worked. The local deputy wouldn’t have had the equipment she had suggested.
As for the rest of her suggestions: they’re excellent. I’ve been using CTRL-X and CTRL-V all afternoon, along with some judicious rewriting.
Can you see why we love Carteret County? That’s our harbor, with part of the flotilla ready to go!
I just received comments from a reader who actually grew up in the area about which I’ve been writing. True, I spent my growing-up summers there. My family originated in a nearby town with a branch coming from this same area. And now I call the place home when I’m not off sailing elsewhere.
But that doesn’t mean I’m intimately acquainted with the things that locals might react to, either positively or negatively. And as a writer, the last thing I want to do is step on anyone’s toes because of my ignorance.
Hence, my reader. She’s not only a friend, but she’s a careful and intelligent reader. I can’t tell you how grateful I am to her for taking the time to comment on anything that jarred her. Because of this, I’ve moved some offensive folk to a locale far away. I want locals to buy the book — once it finds a publishing home — and to stand just a little taller because I’ve gotten it right.
I love Beaufort, NC. I just hope the folks from Beaufort will love what I wrote about their/our town. I found the following pictures: take a look at some of what makes this a special place:A feast of photos from Beaufort
For all those who got spammed with 30+ emails from this account, I apologize. Again. It seems that when I went in — with a new password — to set up email posting so I could send things from our SSB at sea, it enabled whatever/whoever to spam post to this account. I just went in and deleted them. Again.
Okay. All right. I concede. It’s victory to those who pushed me to join Facebook. Even with all of the hassles, the stolen blog, the email invitations to all and sundry and my subsequent embarrassment, I now admit that I’m having fun connecting with friends I haven’t heard from in years.
So, to my agent, Terry Burns, thank you. I say it publicly, you were right to spur me on to join. It’s way too easy to sit back on the boat and write my stories and feel contentment because the sky is almost always blue, the sun shines ninety percent of the time, the people are friendly, and the doctors still care more about their patients than about their non-existent Mercedes. Most importantly, the Lord my God, the Almighty reigns. Always.
Sometimes, though, He wants us to slip out of our comfort zones. Joining Facebook was uncomfortable for me. Still, there I am. And I’m having fun.
Another manuscript out of my hands and into my agent’s. Of course, he may not like it, but that’s negative thinking, so I’d rather not go there.
I’m glad I listened to the voice in my head and rewrote this story in the first person. All of my other stories have multiple POVs. This one used to, but I think it flows more smoothly with the single point of view, especially considering the subject matter. Though I did like getting into the head of the crazy lady….
And perhaps that helped me build the story, writing her thoughts, making her real in my head. I could see her clearly, this woman bent on self-destruction. As I learned her life story, what happened to her became inevitable and she became real — at least in my head.
And the secondary male character behaved badly sometimes — okay, often — but he was another flawed human. Aren’t we all? I just hope I showed him that way, as someone who failed but who otherwise could be a friend. The heroine certainly liked him too well–until she didn’t.
Now, there’s a flawed person for you, that heroine. Flawed and hurting and full of angst.
It’s a story about consequences. And what one can do when those consequences overwhelm.
Well, we’ll see what comes of all of this.
I want to apologize to any of you who received spam postings from this blog. I recently signed up with Facebook on the advice of my literary agent. Somehow, they got hold of my entire email address book AND this blog. and sent invitations to everyone I’d ever written or done business with — much to my chagrin.
I logged on here and found that I was now advertising watches. As the friend who notified me of this mess said, if they only gave us all their profit, that might work.
I’m not quite sure how to fix all of this, but I’m trying. Please be patient if it continues. Just let me know and then delete the email. I hate having to register and start all over again.
Blessings to everyone,
I don’t know about you, but I think writing a piece, letting it lie dormant, and then going back with fresh eyes is a great idea. When I first wrote/rewrote/edited/rewrote Sailing Out of Darkness, I listened to a lot of folk who had various things to say about it. Cut this, add that, change the voice, change the language, don’t be real — reality might offend. What I ended up with was fine, but it wasn’t exactly what I’d had in mind.
Now, several years later, I’m reworking it. Will I improve it? I haven’t a clue, but I’ll tell you one thing: I’m having fun. And I think the distance has made me more able to hear the voice speaking in my head. The one that others shouted down because I listened more to them than to my instincts.
Won’t it be fun to see if the voice speaks truth and if I’m hearing it without too many filters this time?
Now I’m going to show you Monday morning’s glory as seen from Sea Venture’s deck on the way south from Bahia San Carlos.
Heading into the rising sun
Sleepy Creek is behaving oddly. The tide has been higher than normal during most of September, but now all the docks are under water and we have a new pond behind the house! We haven’t had much rain for more than a week, but we do have depth, finally.
This is the backyard pond extending from the end of the harbor. It is normally marshland.
Here is Furnifold, Mama’s rowboat, with her bowline tied at least a foot above the normal dock level. If you click on the picture to enlarge it, you’ll see what I mean.
These show the dock in front of the old house, which is normally quite a bit above water, and the top of the steps leading down to the water on its other side.
Harker’s Island hush puppies, local shrimp and asparagus with a strawberry shortcake for dessert. My mother’s almost 93-year-old brother Ecky came to celebrate with us, as did good friends, Susan and Grace.
We journeyed to Charleston to pick up my mother on the 3rd of March, leaving the boat in Mazatlan under the watchful eye of Phyllis and her husband Erwin of the Vagabond 47, Thea Renee. I’ll post a picture of it later.