Saturday, January 28, 2012

Sinking nails into the edge of the boat

My husband is watching this fishing show on TV where the guy has put nails around the edge of his boat to hold the different fishing lines. Apparently the nails keep the lines separate, keep them from getting tangled. My husband is impressed with this idea.

I've probably got it wrong, but it makes me think about writing. Writing is like fishing, after all. You drop in a hook, jiggle it around a bit. Let it sit. Come back to check, jiggle it some more. And yet some more. And, if you're lucky, pretty soon you'll be fighting the legendary big one.

You will be relentless, tough, focused---maybe even graceful---engaged in this dance with this fish.

Me? I'm with the guy on the fishing show. I like to have a bunch of story lines out at once. I'm not sure it would be a smart idea to secure them with nails though. Some of these story fish are very skittish. They only come when you pretend you're not interested, when you act like you're looking the other way, thinking of somethings else, ignoring them. If you turn to look too quickly, too soon, they disappear into the deep water, or dart off into the rocky part by the shore where you lose lures trying to catch them. You can't nail them down.

Actually, maybe it would be good to sink those nails into the writing boat. Then you could turn your back and feign disinterest. Which means I have driven this metaphor into a dangerously shallow water because what, exactly, is the craft equivalent for writers to "sinking nails into the edge of the boat?"

And the bigger question: why am I comparing writing to fishing? I don't even like to fish although I never admitted this to my big brother, Dave, who left us a little over a year ago. Dave used to take me out in the boat with him and basically plant fish on the end of my line.

Somewhere an old high school boyfriend has a photo of me as a five year old, holding a pike as tall as my little self. The one Dave always bragged about. I never did get that photo back.

Hey, maybe I was good at fishing and maybe this means I should be good at story fishing. Okay, it's a long shot. And if I am going to continue with this frivolity, I will have to go through the whole story equivalent of cleaning the fish and cooking it in a way that will make even non fish lovers say, "hey, this is good!"

Okay. I'd say that's the sound of the buzzer:  Time's up. Back to work.

Oh. But wait. It really is amazing how one can struggle and struggle with something and then, with just one little change in the way you hold the rod, you are able, suddenly, to land the fish. Okay, never mind. That's silly. It's probably not even true about fishing. But it is true about writing and I have had some of those experiences this very week so I am happy.

For real now.  Gone . . .

. . . fishing.

(Sorry. Couldn't help myself.)


  1. When I went to pick up two special orders at my indie, I browse a bit. They had a copy of My Name is Not Easy and it was on display next to a Rick Riordan book. The book is currently in my tbr pile at home

  2. Hi from Kodiak, Alaska! Writing and fishing! They do go together, don't they? Your books are on my "to read Alaskan writers" list. Thanks for commenting on my post on Alaska 49 Writers.

  3. Hey, Vivian. Yes they do. Love your sites.