Chomping at the Bit, Chafing at the Chaff

If this post’s title sounds all over the map, it’s because it is. If this post reads like it’s all over the map…well, that’s something I’m working on.

Our original plan for the winter/spring 2021 voyage was to explore The Bahamas from February through April and then return to the U.S. for the month of May to attend a graduation and a wedding. When Rhett and I made that plan in January 2021, we weren’t sure what we’d do in June but no mater—June was a long way off. Now, it’s May 31, 2021, and June is right around the corner.

Instead of being shoreside for a quick month, we’ve been off the water since late March and while we’ve done so many wonderful things, we’re both chomping at the bit for another voyage and chafing at the chaff of all the little things that try to pull us back to Earth. I feel kind of like that 100-foot, 23-ton Chinese rocket booster that fell into the Indian Ocean in early May—the inexorable pull of gravity.

“Go small, go simple, go now.” is the laconic advice of the legendary and minimalistic cruising couple Lin and Larry Pardey (their two circumnavigations were in boats under 30-feet long). That’s wise counsel and I’m trying to keep it top of mind. However, it’s not Earth that’s generating the gravitational force, but the myriad of little things that keep us tethered and make modern land-based existence appear real. Each by itself—tax returns, bills, vaccinations, sorting through endless mail, dentist appointments, etc.—isn’t strong enough, but together they are a formidable opponent.

To the good, our longer than anticipated shore leave has given me focused time to complete the third draft of Heeling is Healing. When I was a consultant, we often talked about the power of friendships and professional networks. Now, as an aspiring writer, I’m happy to report that friends and networks are just as important.

Two long hairs, one an aspiring writer, the other Rhett’s miniature dachshund Sunny

In one of my earlier posts this spring I stated that while I was in the midst of the third draft of the manuscript, I had no idea what came next in the process of attempting to be published. My cry for help was answered by my friend and colleague David. He connected me with Sarah—a college friend of his—who is a published writer and an Assistant Professor of English. Through her guidance, I sought the services of a professional editor and have signed a contract with Susan to serve as both copyeditor (CE) and developmental editor (DE). From Susan I’m discovering the nuances between CE (reviewing for mistakes in grammar, spelling, format and usage) and DE (helping shape the story and manuscript). With all I’m learning I feel like a wide-eyed youngster in a whole new world.

In our initial discussions, Susan offered to read the first several pages of Chapter 1 to provide me with an example of her work and help her estimate the magnitude of work required to edit the entire manuscript. What I got back from her scared me—not because it was bad, but because it was good. While I’ve put so much effort into the 140,000 word, 315 page manuscript and incorporated invaluable feedback from my friends-and-family editor (Cousin Tom), I sense that this next step will be like facing a tough army drill sergeant (imagine Lou Gossett Jr. in “An Officer and a Gentleman”).

As an example, when I sent her Chapter 1, the opening paragraph was:

It’s 5:30 AM on Saturday, January 18th, 2020. I’m sitting on my favorite love seat on our back porch and one of my dogs is dozing next to me. I didn’t sleep well last night—who could?

In her reply, she said the first words need to be compelling. To this end, she brought forward a conversation that I had buried later in Chapter 1, and now the new opening paragraph is:

When a colleague called to wish bon voyage, he asked, “How are you feeling about the trip?” I replied, “I’m scared shitless.” He said, “Good. If you weren’t, I’d be concerned about you.”

As I look at my original opening paragraph, I chuckle and think of my poor high school English teacher reading a theme paper of mine that started with something like, “Down through the ages…,” or, “It was a dark and stormy night….”

While I’m sure that the professional editing process ultimately will be healthy and replete with the tough love that I need, I have the sneaking suspicion that the aspiring writer within me is going to be torn apart and rebuilt. I just hope I have the fortitude and stamina to endure the boot camp—if I do, I’m confident I’ll be stronger for it.

Also to the good, we were able to attend our first live music in a long time. Old Crow Medicine Show was the headliner with opening act Molly Tuttle. The town of Delray Beach, Florida did a nice job with the outdoor venue and we enjoyed the show in our own socially distanced pod of four with my son Jack and his girlfriend. It was the first show in “Old Crow’s” tour and their first in-person performance in 14-months. The band’s excitement about being back in the saddle was infectious.

Old Crow Medicine Show’s encore in Delray Beach (Molly Tuttle sitting in on stage right)

Speaking of “all over the map” and “back in the saddle” please stay-tuned for my next post—coming soon—which will outline Rhett’s and my goals and plans for our summer/fall 2021 tour. We’re hoping to embark in the second week of June and are deep into final preparations and provisioning of Hazel.

Until then, fair winds and following seas—Hazel James standing-by on channel 16.

PS: Thanks to Tom, David, Sarah and Susan for your continued help. I need it!

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