ON WRITING

“It’s very easy to quit during the first ten years of writing. Nobody cares whether you write or not, and it’s very hard to write when nobody cares one way or the other. You can’t get fired if you don’t write, and most of the time you don’t get rewarded if you do. But don’t quit.” Andre Dubus

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Are you in the middle of a Jessica Watson challenge?

Some of you may know of the 16 year old Aussie girl, Jessica Watson, who is nearing the end of her around-the-world nautical journey. She left amongst endless debate regarding whether her parents should have let her go etc. As a mother of 3 daughters I cannot imagine letting one of them launch off into such a fraught trip. I've been worried about this kid ever since I heard she was going. Well, she is back in Australian waters and on the last leg of her journey, so I'm starting to relax a little, and feel a little sheepish.

Reading about Jessica's exploits in the weekend papers, I was struck with the idea that how dare I (and many others) deny Jessica the right to follow her goals! I realised there are a lot of parallels between her exploits and those of a writer. This is a short list:

  • There would have been oodles of preparation before Jessica even thought of setting off - how much preparation is involved in planning a novel? a short story? Some people just sit down and wait for inspiration to come, whilst others, like moi, like to have a plan before I launch.
  • In her planning, Jessica knew she had to face notorious seas, different condition, things that would challenge her to the nth degree - don't we? We know once we type/write that first sentence, phrase, that we have thousands to go, we are sailing into unknown seas...
  • Jessica has faced strong winds, rough seas, and so do we. Especially in the middle of a piece - which way will I go? I wish these characters would behave themselves instead of dragging me every which way...I'd like to drown the lot of them!
  • Jessica ate chocolates as she crossed the Equator, so that's an upside. It's not all challenges and danger! I eat chocolate every chance I get. When the story is getting me down, chocolate always makes me feel good.
  • Jessica has been through violent storms, where she said the best thing to do was to belt up and hold on. Excellent advice for writers - how many times do we want to trash the piece, hide it in the bottom drawer (or a computer file we'll never open again). No, as any NaNoWrMo writer knows (or any other fraught writer will experience), belt up, hold on, you'll get through this storm.
  • Okay, Jessica will have completed a 23,000 nautical mile journey when she hops off her 10 m yacht in Sydney. How many thousands of words will you have written when your current journey ends? Like Jessica, victory is close.


1 comment:

  1. Thank you for reminding me of this young lady. I remember feeling very undecided as to whether or not she should be 'allowed' (how ridiculous) to go on this journey. We all HAVE to go on our own journeys, no matter what our age. Well done to Jessica. What an inspiration.
    I particularly relate to the idea of Jessica jumping into the unknown even though she will have planned meticulously. Perhpas that is why I procrastinate so much rather than getting on with writing. I'm a chicken! I will try to be brave, like Jessica, and get on with things, dealing with obstacles as they arrive. Who knows, it might be fun!

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