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write about what you do, or what you wish you were doing?

05 Sep

The hero of my first novel, x0, spends her days largely doing what I do. She interprets seismic data for an oil company, loves her husband and three children, plants flowers and loves to travel.  Okay, she also spends a little time reading minds, but basically she and I both have similar lives.  It’s a very nice existence, but it’s not the only one I find appealing.

y1, the second novel in this collection, takes place largely on a sailboat in the Pacific.  Have I been there? Barely. Do I sail? Not really. But I did wake up one morning about twenty years ago filled with a fire to sail around the world. It came out of nowhere and there was no explaining it.  I had to do it. When I wouldn’t stop talking about it, my family finally bought me sailing lessons.  Looked at maps with me.  Agreed that it could happen. Then slowly it became apparent that my husband could think of few things he would rather do less.  He hates being confined on anything, gets seasick, yearns to run around playing any sport involving a ball.  My children were growing up and their wasn’t a budding sailor among them. I had to face the fact that while I could still do this thing, it would be years spent on a solo venture, far removed from all those I loved.

And then I discovered a secret.  That’s what my writing was for. Those of us who create stories are blessed with the chance to enjoy alternate existences that would come at too high a price in our real lives.  Conventional wisdom says that you should write about the things you know. That makes a certain amount of sense.  However, writing a novel takes a tremendous amount of research, thought, planning and plain old day dreaming. Why not use that energy to enter a world you barely know but yearn for? y1 let me learn to sail well, let me hear the sounds of the gulls  and feel the thunk of the waves hitting my boat. I woke to the smell of salt air, ate cold canned goods when I was too tired to cook, studied navigation charts and planned my routes.  It was a wonderful year at sea, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. And, just like my hopeful readers who might also enjoy sailing around paradise, I never had to leave my front porch.  That’s is what books are for.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on September 5, 2012 in writing

 

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2 responses to “write about what you do, or what you wish you were doing?

  1. ryanpatton

    September 5, 2012 at 8:45 PM

    I also wake up with that urge sometimes! great picture too

     
  2. Sherrie Cronin

    September 5, 2012 at 8:55 PM

    Good to know …. also woke up once determined to walk to Tierra del Fuego …. that one is still under consideration 🙂

     
 
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