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At Sea with My Writing, Again

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I'm setting out in a few days to cross the water on the Queen Mary 2, an adventure very exciting and not at all bold.   I'm expecting the easiest imaginable travel, the deep blue swells of the North Atlantic rolling slowly past down below my deck chair. 

I sailed like this once before many years ago, near the tail end of the last century.  The voyage made an impression on me.  I wrote about it then and have written about it on this blog several times since, most recently a few posts back with the death of writer Ray Bradbury, who was on the same crossing as me on the QE2.

The article I wrote about that last voyage, titled "At Sea with My Writing," took an unexpected turn.  At the time I boarded the liner, I'd been trying for several years to finish and get a contract for a novel, Sister India.  I was very discouraged about that prospect.  Things were not going well.  To my amazement, in the course of that crossing my writing had what I can only call a "sea change." I came back with a strong resolve, that for the rest of my life I would: 

"tell stories that are peculiarly mine: the ones that rise, irrepressibly, to the surface, weird as sea creatures.  I'm going to write those stories, whatever shape they take, whatever they cost me.  I've half-known this for a while.  Out here in the middle of the ocean, I can look back and see that, some time ago, I crossed a line, steamed into this territory that is new and, at the same time, home."

When I got back to my desk, I wrote yet another draft of Sister India, got yet another agent, and she sold it in two and a half weeks.  And it became a NY Times Notable Book of the year.  There's nothing more satisfying than making a resolution and seeing it get the desired results.

On the other hand, the resolve to write my own peculiar stories has also cost me, as I knew even then that it would: my work has become weirder and weirder. 

So, for better and worse, that writing voyage was high impact.

Now, as you might imagine, I'm curious about what is going to happen with my writing during this coming crossing.  Once again, it's time for a sea change.

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  • July 4, 2012 at 1:00 am Reply

    How exciting!  I confess to some jealousy, but we're spending two weeks on our sailboat in the Inner Banks, so it's hard to imagine what could be better than that.
    Hope you have a wonderful sail!

    • July 4, 2012 at 1:24 pm Reply

      Happy sailing to you, Beth. And I seem to remember a nautical map suggesting that you’d just come back….

  • July 4, 2012 at 5:26 am Reply

    Thanks for your post, Peggy. I believe that context and place in particular is very important, especially when fleshing out or committing to a new idea. I wish you bon voyage and can't wait to hear how it goes. 

    • July 4, 2012 at 1:25 pm Reply

      Thanks, Jodi. I find it hard to believe that the same magic could work twice. But I expect this will be fabulous even without breakthroughs.

  • Harry Payne
    July 4, 2012 at 12:23 pm Reply

    Surely it will be a grand voyage that leads to more!  Be Happy!.

    • July 4, 2012 at 1:26 pm Reply

      Thanks, Harry Payne. In the meantime, happy sailing to you.

  • Lisa Wong
    July 28, 2012 at 6:43 pm Reply

    this is your book club group from Honolulu.  the timing is so right for us to read Sister India and you to be celebrating a "Ganges" cleanse on the Atlantic.   How refreshing.  
    Lisa Wong

    • July 29, 2012 at 7:33 pm Reply

      I love how you pull all these things together, Lisa. And I look forward to talking with your group. I wish it were in person!

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