Off to sea: on sailing, writing and endings which may be beginnings

From this month’s column at Awkword Paper Cut:

sailing MOMO“I’m about to set out across the open sea again, and my impending departure has me thinking about writing and sailing. For me, these two things go hand-in-hand. Writing requires both a precision and a longer-term dream-quality that sailing encompasses as well. Close attention to detail is necessary, but so is a grander scheme, a broader vision and dream.

Sometimes writing is focused on the quick win, a rush of adrenalin as you race toward a deadline. Sometimes it’s a longer series of accomplishments that lead toward a larger goal. And sometimes it requires relinquishing a sense of control and flowing down an unknown path. In the case of sailing, planning and care are required for any passage across waters, but there are elements beyond control too – and the key to happiness is the balance between preparedness and knowing when to let go.

Elvy, sailing photos (3)Similarly, writing requires a precision when it comes to grammar and syntax (yeah, I love grammar), but all language is mere approximation and mystery, and I also love the element of surprise when you don’t quite know which way the characters will lead you or where story’s heading. As a writer and sailor, I manage what I can and embrace the mystery of not knowing the beginning, middle and end. The balance between these two elements – what I know and what I don’t know – keeps me on an even keel, whether I’m working on a longer series for another editor or heading from the now familiar waters of the Pacific to the mystery of the Coral Sea and beyond.”

More from this article, which includes writers Beate Sigriddaughter, Sheldon Lee Compton and Claire Benyon reflecting on creativity in terms of dance, music and painting is here at Awkword Paper Cut. And there’s more inspiring stuff there, too.


Meanwhile, since I’m about to be gone for a while, I leave you also with other things that inspire me on a regular basis:

Blue Bench-BFRTuesday Poem – a regular place for extraordinary poetry

Flash Frontier: An Adventure in Short Fiction – with the brand new October issue which includes an international line-up of fine flash with the theme rescued and a feature with interviews and excerpts from new books by authors Latika Vasil, James Claffey, Catherine McNamara and Berit Ellingsen

Blue Five Notebook – where the current issue is a Poetry Special, and upcoming issues in October include a regular issue with Ann Lederer, Howie Good, Karla Linn Merrifield, Gary Powell and Tantra Bensko (along with art by Leslie Marcus), plus a Broadside with Andrew Stancek


DSC_8739And I leave you with a kind of prose poem (or is it a story?), since there will be several Tuesdays to come while I’m not online, and I want to include something here that ponders the beginning/middle/ end. I am grateful to the editors of Metazen, who published my story “SPIN” earlier this month. Best to go there to read it, as they got the formatting right!

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2 Responses to Off to sea: on sailing, writing and endings which may be beginnings

  1. susanaisy says:

    Michelle, have a smooth yet exciting sail………….  talk to you soon……  Congrats on all this wonder that you put out to the earth.  xxxxxxxxxx

  2. ajponder says:

    Bon Voyage, may you have a grand adventure on paper, and fun riding the ocean. 🙂

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