Saturday, August 19, 2006

Metaphors

Patty here...

I'm in Martha's Vineyard sitting on Peter and Betsy's screened porch in their vintage glider, surrounded by the ghosts of Dash and Lilly. It's the type of warm and lazy summer day when your mind is free to think about literature, life, and metaphors.

I just concluded a ten day sailing adventure off the coast of Maine from Yarmouth to Sommesville and back in a 30-foot boat. Sailing in Maine is not for the faint of heart. We were often traveling in remote areas pushed by 30-knot winds and choppy seas through narrow passages of shallow water lined by rocky shelves that have laid over boats skippered by even the most experienced mariners. For those days there were no NakedAuthors, no email, no cell phone coverage, and few showers (and I'm not talking about rain here, folks).

On our passage from Tenant's Harbor to Linekin Bay we lost our engine in one of those narrow passages. The water was shallow and the wind was threatening to blow us onto the rocks. We moved quickly to set the sails and short-tacked through the passage and into Port Clyde, Maine, for repairs.

I've done a fair amount of cruising, so I knew before I committed to the trip that it wouldn't all be smooth sailing. I accepted the challenges because I anticipated that the rewards would be worth the hardships.

It's quiet here in the woods of East Chop. As I play fetch with a yellow lab named Chloe and watch the breeze ruffle the leaves of the trees, it strikes me that sailing the Maine coast is an apt metaphor for writing novels and getting them published. The literary life isn't always smooth sailing, but overall it's a great adventure.

I recently sent my third novel to my editor, the incomparable Kristen Weber of NAL/Penguin. Before mailing the manuscript I asked several friends to read it. All of them told me that it was my best book yet, but still...they're friends. You worry.

So here I am in Martha's Vineyard checking email on Betsy and Peter's computer and I find a message from Kristen. She loves SHORT CHANGE. Her words are pure mojo. They make up for all those writing days when my creative data bank seems either trite of vacuous. Having Kristen's support feels like reaching a safe harbor and finding an expert mechanic with a spare fuel pump. Minor repairs will be made and I'll soon be off on my next big adventure: book four.

p.s. A belated thanks to all of you who responded to Fan Mail. A special thanks to Louise Ure for her wonderful post last Monday. I'll be back in L.A. on Monday eveninig. Until then, here's wishing you all fair winds in writing and in life. p-

4 comments:

  1. Holy cow! Thirty knot winds and rocky channels. I sense a terrific scene in an upcoming book. Patty, a long time ago, I was in the first generation of windsurfers. Mostly Miami but wave-hopping excursions to Maui, Columbia River Gorge, Aruba, Puerto Rico, and San Francisco Bay. Back then, I arrogantly wore a tee-shirt that said, "Only sissies sail sitting down." Dumb. And when you're handling a sailboat in rough seas, you don't sit, anyway.

    BTW, I love the name "East Chop." A Gatsby-esque quality, like "East Egg" and "West Egg."

    Welcome home.

    Paul

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  2. Hi Patty,

    I was on the Vineyard on Monday, a day trip during my week stay in Falmouth on the Cape. We're just back, and I can still smell the sand and the sea...or maybe it's just the dirty laundry covered in sunscreen...

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  3. Glad you survived the hazards of that sail, Patty, and the hazards of Book Three, as well. You're in good hands with the gracious Kristen Weber.

    Thanks for letting me play blogger last week!

    Louise

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  4. I'm back!!!! Paul, I keeping wondering if Steve Solomon is ever going to windsurf or would he be too intimidated competing with Jake?

    Ah, the smell of post vacation dirty laundry...

    Thanks again, Louise.

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