Monthly Archives: July 2012

Coolest birthday present in years…

Back when most kids were getting bicycles for their birthday, my parents instead presented me with a bright orange Snark, which was pretty much a Sunfish knockoff, constructed of styrofoam, covered in tough plastic. It was more or less an Igloo ice-chest in the shape of a boat, and at 45 pounds, it barely displaced any water. Considering I didn’t weigh a whole lot more, it had a tendency to plane along the surface, and while it was never designed for radical sailing, once I rigged it with a tiller extension and hiking straps, it was a blast to sail. In fact, in the many years and boats since that Snark, I’ve never quite matched the pure exhilaration I had aboard that little orange cork — and that even includes a Laser I sailed for several years. And in recent years, my lack of sailing has begun to wear on me to the point I’m climbing the walls.

Well, I can stop climbing.  The other day my mom called to inform me they’d found me the perfect birthday present. She needs a little work, but nothing a few evenings in the garage won’t remedy.  And yes, she presently lacks a sailing rig, but that’s easily remedied as well.

This is going to be fun!  (And is also the subject of today’s Write On The Water post.)

Yeah, I know…

I haven’t been online much lately. Life has become a bit hectic, some of it good, some of it not so much. But that’s life. On the positive side, work is moving along aboard Annabel Lee, so much so, in fact, that I have zero photos to post at the moment simply because we’ve been too busy actually doing for me to stop and take pictures. On another (what I consider) positive note, I’ve acquired another boat, which in itself would be the definition of insanity, though it’s only a *little* insane, as in a pretty little dinghy that is, of course, in need of some work. Oh, and it is a design that can easily be converted to sail, and that will be hard to resist. Aside from that, I’m not going into details at the moment — I have much in the works beyond things that float, but for now I’ll just keep swimming.

A lesson in death…

Some of you may have noticed over the last few days I sort of dropped off the radar.  More of you were probably off having fun, and likely assumed I was also wrapped up in the extended 4th of July festivities that stretched over two weekends and cut the work week down the middle. As holidays go, the 4th usually tops my list. Kicking back with some friends, enjoying barbeques, hanging out on the beach and watching fireworks. Not standing in a cemetery and watching a young friend laid to rest.

Some funerals sting more than others. Though it’s never easy to lose someone, it’s easier to come to terms with their passing when they had a long, full life. But when it’s someone with so many years ahead and so much potential, someone with such incredible vitality, someone who touched the lives of so many around them, the loss hits hard. And it’s times like these make you step back and take stock in how you’re living your own life. It makes you wish you’d taken more time for the people and things that really matter, and it makes you realize that perhaps it’s time to start, before the next box goes in the ground and the chance is lost. There isn’t a do-over button in this game. We all go day to day, rushing around, wrapped up in our problems and worries, losing sight of the fact that we really need to take time for those who matter. Take the time while it’s there to take, because this is life, after all, and in the end, none of us are going to make it out alive. Take time to laugh with friends while they’re still above ground, because meeting up in a cemetery is a lousy place and time for a get-together. You taught us all some great lessons, John, right to the end, and beyond. We’re going to miss you, but for those who knew you, we’re going to live life and celebrate your memory.

As I wrote this, another friend posted her reflection on John’s passing, and she so perfectly put into words what made John special and why he will truly be missed.

Recently a friend and coworker of mine died. The fact that he changed me as a person makes me so happy and mourn the loss of a great person even more so. He was a man who lived life to his fullest, for better or for worse. Never have I met somebody who so kindly tried to encourage me to come out of my shell, while still being entirely respectful of my wallflower tendencies. It would be a disservice to his memory to stay locked away. Because of him I have decided to stop being afraid to live life.

R.I.P. John Vaillencourt. The most genuine bullshit artist you’d ever meet. Always the life of a party, a loving father, and someone who wore his faults proudly but could win over anyone with his cheer and good heart.

What Would Hemingway Do? (WWHD?)

Working alone in a shed at the far corner of a boatyard provides me plenty of time to think, and curling up in the forward cabin with my laptop, well beyond any internet signals, leaves me hours of distraction-free time to write. But it doesn’t sell books. These days, if you want to sell books, social networking is the way to go. And while I spend my days working on the boat, in every sense of the word, my fellow authors are actively working online, posting to Facebook, Tweeting, and commenting, as well as utilizing numerous other social network platforms I’ve yet to explore.

True, I’ve blogged for years, though originally my blog wasn’t even a blog, but simply a web page documenting a previous boat restoration. When I began, it gave me a way to easily share pictures and stories with a small circle of friends. The content has since branched into other areas and attracted more readers, and I’ve  linked it (sort of — there’s still some kinks) to Facebook, yet this blog remains my main online presence. But these days, new platforms are emerging at an accelerating rate, and I realize as an author, it would serve me well to learn and use these latest ways of reaching out to a wider audience.

Instead, I continue to split my time between my family, an old boat, and writing. And the other day, while I cut my way through yards of fiberglass, I found myself wondering: is this what I should be doing if I ever hope to achieve greatness. Okay. Just kidding. I’ll settle for reasonable mid-list-ish-ness. But seriously, if some of the ‘great’ authors of days gone by were alive today, how would they spend their time? Would they be out, living life and writing about it, or would they be hunkered down in the glow of their computer monitors, chained to their WiFi signals like dogs by an invisible fence as they delved into the many layers of social media and networked with their fellow authors and readers?

Would John Steinbeck be sharing on Tumblr?
Would Mark Twain ask readers to ‘like’ him on Facebook?
Would Edgar Allen Poe attend Thrillerfest?
Would Emily Dickinson post her Pintrests?
Would Jane Austen frequent Reddit?
 Would Jules Verne be updating his Author Page?
Would Agatha Christie be Linkedin?
Would Ernest Hemingway Tweet?

I know this social networking thing works, and I’ve seen how the authors most adept at it have a distinct advantage when it comes to reaching and connecting with readers. Don’t construe that I’m knocking social networking – if anything, I wish it came more naturally to me. I’m simply wondering how authors of the past, the ones who rose to iconic status, would deal with social networking. If they ignored it, would they still have risen to the heights that they did? And if they embraced it, would they still have had time to write on a level that made them the authors we know today?

And on that note, I’m posting this and unplugging my computer. I have much work to do.