Oh, and another thing I noticed. . .

By Guest Blogger

Tom Tripp

(Dear reader – I’m thrilled to be writing the occasional piece for Write on the Water. I’m sure you’ve noticed that Christine, Mike and Victoria are not only all good writers, but very different writers. So you won’t be surprised to find that I’m yet a fourth flavor of a writer on the water. I’m a freelance boating writer and publisher of an online magazine devoted to cruising called OceanLines. I’m also an aspiring novelist with about 70 percent of my first novel written.)

No matter what kind of writing we all do, most of us have a special place to do that writing – a dedicated place; familiar, comfortable and productive. For me, it’s my landlocked office at the house. I haven’t yet been able to move aboard, although with my oldest daughter graduating from college in a few weeks and my youngest finishing her sophomore year, I can see the light at the end of the financial tunnel.

My writing space is a great place for me to conduct the business of freelance writing. I have a nice desk and computer setup, with two big screens in front of me to keep references at hand while I write. I have whiteboards on the walls with notes about projects and priorities. There are bookshelves all around and a big bay window let’s me watch the small world of my neighborhood while I write.

It’s all very functional and helpful. But it’s not very inspirational. Everything I write about (even my nascent novel) has to do with being on the water and my readers need to feel the water in my stories. And yet, from my keyboard, there is no water even in sight. Every word I write here is born from an experience somewhere else; from somewhere on the water. Whether I’m writing a magazine article about a boat test, or recounting an offshore delivery trip on a trawler, I must recapture the experience in detail. That’s not impossible since there are many ways to capture bits of the experience – photos, videos, audio recordings, hand-written notes. But (warning – obvious statement ahead) it is essential to actually BE on the water.

Like many boaters, I am transformed when I’m out on the water. I am more alive; more sentient and involved.  The pleasant, but sterile and bland environment of my office is gone; replaced by a vibrant, dynamic assault on all of my senses. My lungs fill with salt air and the scents of the waterfront. The sounds and rhythms of the water moving around me seep into my muscles and skeleton, eventually moving me in time to the motion of the sea itself. And the sights? Well, those are enough to make you laugh at all the folks standing around the docks at Key West waiting to see a pretty sunset. At sea, you see those all the time and they go way beyond “pretty.”

All this sensory stimulation serves to turbocharge my mind. I begin to notice more than just the sublime. The difference in the angle of approaching waves created by the long-distance ocean swell and those pushed by the local winds suddenly sticks out. The predictable way in which the bow of the boat falls into the trough between the waves and then climbs the face of the next swell imprints itself. The manner in which each of the Shearwaters glide down to the boat from astern, pass back and forth overhead and then disappear into the distance ahead becomes routine.

So when I come ashore again, I bring my video, my digital photos, the measurements and data logs. But I also bring with me indelible memories of things more important – things that always draw me back to the water. These memories are the ones I try to convey in my writing, that I might distinguish what I write from what is too commonly offered in today’s publications.

Oh, and another thing I’ve noticed – the way food tastes SO much better when I’m on the boat. Have you noticed that?

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4 Responses to Oh, and another thing I noticed. . .

  1. Clean fresh air makes everything taste better. The smile on your face from being on the water doesn’t hurt either. Happy people enjoy food more.
    Welcome to Write on the Water!

  2. admin says:

    I second Victoria’s comments. For those of you out there considering the cruising lifestyle, I say just do it.

    Mike

  3. Christine Kling says:

    Memory makes an amazing filter, makes the difference between a photograph and a Winslow Homer painting. Sometimes people fuss at us about “getting it right,” but the best writing happens when you share those other things you noticed, and you can write that while staring at a wall.

    Welcome aboard!

  4. Celia I. Ammann says:

    Not only food tastes better on the water… Life on the water is thoroughly different and in my personal opinion infinitely better; a two-day outing is as good as a two-week vacation. And a two-week vacation adds years to your life. I’d say life tastes better on the water…

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