The words “green water over the bow” might be familiar to those who have sailed the seas, whether in the military or for fun. Those are the words that mean the seas are more than a little rough, that enough water is coming over the front of the ship that the water no longer looks white and foamy, but green.
It means the sea is coming onto your floating bit of dry “land” when there is no other dry land for you to hop onto.
Here’s a little secret about me. I never feel more alive than when something like green water happens. I know, it’s counterintuitive. It might even been seen as a potential problem with thrill seeking or a need for adrenaline. It’s not any of those things though. It’s because I’m reminded that I really am on a tiny bit of floating material and the sea is so much bigger than me. It reminds me that I’m small and alive.
Generally speaking, people like me maneuver the ship and the green water stops. The storm or winds end and before you know it, the sea is like glass and you’re wondering what planet you’re really on.
That’s what writing is like for me now that my days of sailing the seas are behind me. It is green water and seas like glass, then more green water. Rinse, wipe your brow, repeat.
It may sound strange that I equate a profession so sedentary, so introspective, and so calm to being at sea in a storm, but the similarities are striking. Behind every writer’s calm face, lit by the glow of a screen, is a raging storm of ideas, emotions, fears, and an intense, burning desire.
When I’m in the thick of writing a new book, it’s not uncommon to see me up long before dawn and still at my computer till late at night. Sure, I get up and cook food…or make yet another pot of coffee…and do other things like laundry. But I’ll hurry through those things and be back on my Gaiam ball chair, bouncing away when something exciting happens and my fingers flying.
When I shut the lid at night to go to bed, I’m as exhausted as if I’d spent all day on the bridge of a ship. The only difference is that my feet don’t hurt.
But this post isn’t about me as the green water writer. It’s about the moment I realized that I was just one member of a very big and growing tribe of people who live the green water life. I was at a social event with other writers, (one of the few times I actually socialized or wore proper pants in the past six months), when it hit me.
All of these people were describing the way I felt every day, only using different words and often diminishing the way they felt, perhaps from shyness or fear that they would be the only one who felt that way. I looked around at this incredibly diverse group…military members, stay at home parents, cubicle workers, civil servants…and realized that we were all on a very special ship and headed for heavy seas.
And we all loved it. Even when it’s bad, it’s good.
I’m pretty sure I had a little bit of a smile on my face for the rest of the evening. But more importantly, I understood them better. These people knew the fear of failure that came the moment that “publish” button was pushed. They understood the confusion of trying to navigate a marketplace that is changing daily. They understood that moment of peace and calm that comes when the story is done and all has ended as it should.
Writers are multiplying now at a rate that would make rabbits blush. And I don’t mean having babies either. More people than ever are realizing the story they have inside them needs to get out. They are taking the plunge.
They are getting a taste of the green water life. And it is addictive.
I support that wholeheartedly and I adore all the other writers who support it as well. I also understand how hard it is to publish that first book, how hard it is to figure out covers and blurbs and editing and all the rest. It’s daunting. There are so many things to figure out and there is an uncomfortable level of uncertainty in every decision.
If you have that story inside you, get it out. Write it. Steer your ship into the green water and shout into the wind. It will feel good, and bad, then good again. And you never know, you might find that thing you were meant to do in the process. It doesn’t matter what you do for a living now or whether or not you have a degree in creative writing or English. If the story is in you, then take the plunge.
There are a lot of us in the water with you and I will welcome you to our tribe.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ann Christy spent almost three decades in the Navy and retired as a Commander in 2015. She’ll swear that they got her while she was still in diapers if you ask her age. She lives by the sea under the benevolent rule of her canine overlords and a delusional cat. You’ll most often find her running about in her pajamas, dreaming up terrible situations for her characters and letting them find their way out…or not.
You can touch base with Ann on her website: http://www.annchristy.com or on social media, where she spends far too much time.