One afternoon in August five years ago on a day when it was hotter than the hinges of hell and so humid you could damn near swim through the moisture in the air, I sat in the cockpit of our sailboat, sweat pouring off my face and stinging my eyes as I labored over and cursed a section of fiberglass I was repairing. I had the stereo on \while I worked, listening to my favorite recording artist, Mark Knopfler.
I’ve listened over the years to every song he’s composed but while I sat there cooling off and resting, one came on that I’d never heard before. The title of it is, In the sky. There are a few bars of his skillful fingerpicking and then he segues into the introductory lyrics: “Are you home from the sea, my soul balladeer? You’ve been away roamin’, far away from here. Weathered a storm, your heart unafraid. Crossed every ocean, in a boat that you made …”
When it was over, I thought to myself, “Man, what a great story that would make.” And on that punishing hot afternoon, with the pungent smell of fiberglass in my nose and a bellyful of Gatorade, came the concept of what would become my first novel, A Mariner’s Tale.
The first title was different, but one day while talking with my dear friend and fairy godmother, Marly Rusoff, we decided that, although it was a catchy title, it didn’t quite capture the entirety of the story. “Jot down a few ideas for other titles and get back to me,” she said. And this is the one we ultimately settled on.
A Mariner’s Tale is a story that nearly all of us can relate to – one full of pain and sometimes despair and longing, but also one full of hope and triumph – a story about loss and redemption as the characters sort through the messes their individual lives looking for the answers we all seek:
- How did I get here?
- Where am I going?
- How do I get there?
- How do I extricate myself from the pain of my past and present and find the answers I’m looking for that bring me peace and fulfillment?
- What does it mean to be in love and will I ever find it?
As a sailor, myself, I’ve learned that setting sail to a particular destination is rarely a straight line. It’s one full of waypoints and course deviations. You know where you are and you know where you want to be.
And sometime you can even see the place where you’re going, but, try as you might, you just can’t set a true heading to get there. The wind is fickle and shifty and won’t cooperate and so you must tack left and then right, constantly trimming your sails, sometimes having to tack so far port or starboard-left or right-that it almost seems as if the wind will take you so far off course that you’ll never get there.
Sailing can be blissful and easy, so soothing and gentle at times that you get lulled into feeling it’ll always be that way. And then a thunderstorm or squall comes along so nasty that it’s all you can do to battle your way through it. Sometimes the crack of thunder, the burnt smell of ozone from the sudden burst of lightning and the suddenly angry sea are so terrifying that all you want to do is flee below decks and hope it blows over.
But that’s a recipe for disaster. You have to keep your hands on the helm and your attention focused. You just have to take deep breaths and reassure yourself that you’ll eventually get through it. You just have to weather that storm. It’ll pass. They always do. They sometimes beat us black and blue in their passing. But eventually, the golden sun will break through those ominous clouds and, all of a sudden, the sea and wind are with you again. You trim your sails, make another adjustment and keep going. If you don’t give up, you’ll eventually get to where you want to be.
Life’s a lot like sailing. It’s about the journey. How we reach the destination is secondary.
Thank you for being my readers. Fair winds and following seas to every one of you.