I passed a precaurious hand over my sun-bleached and rough linen outfit, meekly touched my greasy hair, and a strangely deep shout escaped my lips when … I noticed I had turned into a man.
I grabbed the railing with rough and unfeeling fingers and took several heavy breaths of the salty air. My adams apple throbbed in my throat, my hands shook. A minute ago I had been sitting at my desk in the twentyfirst century—a woman, no less; I dared not touch what I felt must be there, knowing what wasn’t—now I found myself on what I surmised to be an eighteenth century pirate vessel. I knew it was pirate because we flew no flag, but had several nationalities laying ready for flying. Could this be?
Grimy sailors lounged on coils of rope, leaning against barrels and handing around flasks. A mono-legged parrot, who’s squiggly existing leg was tied to my jacket, gave me a puzzled look. I was their captain.
“Sail!” I cried, enthused by realization and the ocean’s tantalizing sloshing on the hull.
The sailors perked up, eyes sparkling with the love for adventure, the midday sun baking their already darkened skin. Their knarly hands twitched on the rigging, ready to fill the sails with the swooping gust to take us wherever I commanded.
“Aye captain, which manoevre?” one cried.
The flapping map—held down only by Captain Jack Marrow, our skull; don’t ask how I knew—was vague, my position vaguer, and as for my knowledge of sailing manoevres … I licked a bitter finger and held it up. “Where the wind takes us.”
“Aye, aye, captain,” the sailors cried, and the vessel creaked and stormed wildly in different directions. We drank at night, took our four-bell-rings shifts singing, and made plans for our next loot. I learned all about their dreams, and mine.
In other words, we had a jolly ride. Until we reached a doldrum, that is. There we starved.
That, more or less, is what happened when I embarked on my author journey, having reached my first creativity standstill. It doesn’t have to be this way, though, because writing can be learned just the same as commanding a ship. But like commanding a ship, it’s not going to be easy. Nothing worthwhile is.
Let me explain, because my metatextual ego implores. As the author, you are the captain. The story develops and its characters act at your will; the wind is your creativity, your driving force; the sailors are your characters; each part of your ship is one of your rhetorical devices. All must work together to produce a narration that is wholesome and balanced—unleaking, if you’ll allow the allusion—entertaining as well as meaningful, and most of all, moving.
Writing is daunting because it’s such a complex process. Much of it is subconscious simply because our minds cannot actively process so much information at once. I daresay most of it happens under the surface of the excited waters (“storms of creativity,” the metatextual ego interjects). That’s why when an editor deletes something, you hesitate, knowing there’s some reason it’s there. When asked, you might say, “it was a feeling.”
Like most beginning authors, this feeling is all I went by. And, like most, I did not have a tutor to channel it in any way. I trusted the process and typed away, reveling in creativity and feeling rather pompous. I had studied literature, after all. What could go wrong?
When the inevitable happened and I finally got stuck, I frustrated and every line became tedious. I put it away for weeks, waiting for creativity to return. Feedback from other authors and editors took more wind away, for I didn’t understand what they meant. Worst of all, I was deeply hurt. That’s because I didn’t understand the craft.
Many give up at this point. But you don’t want to look back on your book as a failed project. Let me show you how much fun every step of getting your book finished can be. In this blog get to know Grammar the pestering parrot, let us dissect the anatomy of your ship and discover what Woody Driftwood the rhetorical carpenter, Brian Mindwoggler the villanous boatswain, Loophole McCoil the semi-academic and idle matey, and Lacy Underlies the attached blind passenger have to say about it all. The tools are laid out to you, ready for the taking. Take them.
Author: Mira Kanehl
Image source: Pixabay.com (OpenClipart-Vectors).