Behind the Story – At Sea

I’m starting this new series on the blog ‘behind the story’ inspired by what St. Lucian artist Donna Grandin does on her blog – providing the back story, re inspiration, technique, challenges involved in creating some of her paintings. It’s not something I’m comfortable with, I have to admit. I like to let the story speak for itself. But I’m also kind of moved to re-visit some of my short stories (in part because of a retreat presentation I’m preparing in which I’ll have to talk about how therapeutic and cathartic writing  has been in my life, in part because a question to this blog stirred things up in me and inspired this post… the 10 Day Challenge I recently did on facebook in which we were encouraged to post not only the creative piece but also the experience of creating it probably has something to do with it as well) so I think I’ll try it, at least with some of the journalled pieces,  and just stop if ish gets too real.

At Sea – can’t find it online anymore but this short (very short, only about 600 words or so) story was initially completed in 2005 and published after numerous revisions in 2011 in Munyori, a Zimbabwean-American online platform:

The first thing I was trying to do with At Sea was to create an image, a moment, that was sort of like a faded, runny watercolour; something weathered, which also felt like it was waiting for change to blow in. So this story was very much written from a visual part of my mind (stoked by a certain longing) and might not have happened if I’d had the skills to paint it. I consciously borrowed two other things from real life – two men – I’m not saying who, one whose accent I found alluring and one whose eyes and energy draw you in. Everything else is complete invention including the location though I did have a physical space in Antigua as a reference point in my mind (that I then added to). There’s been a lot of adding and subtracting throughout the life of At Sea. If I opened it up right now I’d probably fiddle with it. I was never quite satisfied, even after it had been published. But I do hope it paints a picture:

He had once been the adventurous Captain of their little seaside village; braving storm, hauling fish pots and telling the best at-sea fables while roasting fish over a grill made from a steel drum in the ‘Shack’s’ backyard, under a blanket of stars.

As a child, Rita had sat on the sand, breathing the smoke and sweet aroma, face turned to the stars, wishing for romance and adventure of her own.

Links to my various published stories can be found here.


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