15. Come Swim in MY Sea of Words ...
What is it I want from you? Well, I want you to feel something - maybe something that could be of benefit to you, but it could also be that I just want to shock or goad you in some way. Why the hell should you spend time and effort reading my 'stuff' if after all you feel is - well, nothing much of anything; the realisation you have wasted both in a fruitless undertaking? So, before I ask you to don your metaphorical reading trunks to swim in the sea of words of my own making, I have to shape the currents and tides, so you arrive at the intended destination feeling as if you have accomplished something, and therefore, by association, so have I - a win, win situation. By all accounts then I need to be proficient at my sea making skills else you could well flounder, sink and drown.
The beach could be construed as the first paragraph, one where the sun is shining, or it is the dead of Winter and is freezing cold underfoot, or any weather in-between. Whatever the construct it has to be alluring enough for you to think of entering into the sea from such a vantage point. I have to talk you into taking the first step - to spur you on in some way - to energise you. Not an easy task if you are a bit of a slob in the reading department. I can't bribe you, so how else is a person such as myself going to entice you into a world where you very rarely go? Well, the event title springs to mind. It has to offer some reward however tenuous the link. Between the two it should be possible to imagine yourself in your swimming costume making your way down to the water's edge, where my undetectable, tiny, seductive words are washing up on the shore.
Are you eager to take the plunge? The first step can be a shocking one. Do you really want to swim away from the shore thereafter? Are you sure you are in safe hands? What are the author's credentials? Does he really know what he is doing? As I am writing this I had better come clean: no I don't - it is all a bit of a wing and a prayer. But, it is exciting isn't it - I hope it is anyway. What I do have is a sense of responsibility - a deep one, borne out of struggle. I know the power of words and ideas - they can heal or wreck havoc, or create a multitude of convoluted thoughts and emotions in-between. Don't worry then, as there is no way I will let you get into too much difficulty. Don't expect the sea to remain calm, or the current to always flow in the right direction, but bear in mind I will be swimming slightly ahead of you at all times - all you need do is follow in my wake.
To create my 'sea of words' has taken a long time in learning and it is far from how I would like it even now - there is pollution in various places. I have had to swim many seas of my own before having the audacity to swamp a shoreline in such a manner. At least now I think I can control the undercurrents and keep the predators at bay. Believe me, there are plenty of inner demons who fancy they can swim with the fishes, being only too eager to dive in and spoil things should I lower my guard. I only allow those pertinent to the story to make their presence felt. The others I leave locked up in a deep subterranean cave where they can do no harm - not to you anyway.
So, let me take you by the hand and at least draw you in chest high. Duck and dive there for a while and consider if you have the desire and strength of purpose to see the journey through. Feel the sand between your toes and wonder at its construction as every grain is of my own design. You enter worlds which don't exist outside of the author's head - my head in this case. Think how personal this all is. How incredibly revealing should you be able to read the flow of thought necessary to shape the world you now inhabit. Do you need armbands - a rubber ring - a snorkel? No author worth his salt lets his readers enter choppy seas without being versed in how to save someone from drowning should there be an emergency; so no, you don't - not in this instance anyway, or any other with my stamp of approval. Fully qualified lifeguard on standby at all times in my stories - I insist upon it.
Words washing around - a thick soup, where there is a vast ocean to choose from. Where does an author start? Does he cast out a net willy-nilly in the hope of ensnaring a few choice, conversational titbits, which, with luck, could be arranged in to coherent sentences? Believe me, the ocean is too large and the levels of salinity too great. You have to pick your spot carefully, even travelling around scooping a bucket here and a bucket there. There are no speedboats - no way to quickly travel to some exotic shoreline to gather the missing words you so desperately need. The only way is to become an extremely proficient boats-man and it takes a long time. An authors skill-set is hard earned to say the least.
I remember taking my first plunge. I couldn't swim at all at one time - no-one can straight off the bat. No, I'm not being totally honest here - not my first plunge, but I remember thinking I wanted to be able to swim in a similar manner to the Olympic athletes surging before me. It was at a time when many personal struggles were threatening to completely overwhelm me. From the first page I realised this person had been in the same soul destroying situation - a life or death one by all accounts. It was a much needed lifeline for me - the only one that made sense. On the shore I was being assailed by all sorts of creatures snapping at my heels. There were a few capable of eating me whole. When I entered the novelist's entrancing vision - the calm waters before me - I was slowly cleansed as the ravenous pursuers drowned - one by one.
And here I am. Not only have I learned to swim proficiently but I have access to a huge device - a complete, terraforming machine of my own. I can now run or swim in make believe worlds, where I am safe and where there are no demons, unless I let them enter that is - it being a conscious choice. Not only this, but I can offer the same service as the authors who taught me how to shake off despair and confusion. There are no limits and no confines - I am literally free to conjure up make-believe havens or lands where storms are raging. These are exciting times for me and I want others, like you, to share them.
Still, it is work, plain and simple. If you think writing is just someone messing around then you would be greatly mistaken. It takes a massive amount of diligence and mental exertion. OK, there are times when the words seemingly flow with a mind of their own, being only too eager to join their counterparts - being as fish out of water, but often-times a line has to be lowered into very deep recesses of the mind, where to disturb a sleeping leviathan could have disastrous implications. What then is the attraction? Why do authors place themselves in danger? Fun ain't it - a way to break the boredom more often than not - it is with regard to myself anyway. I have never been one to spend time on the beach sunbathing. Always liked to go exploring. The cool caves and rock pools were little worlds of their own - little microcosms, where it was relatively safe to delve, prod and investigate in all manner of ways. As is a book. It is a part but not the whole. Might not be safe though - no guarantee of that - but at least you can close the covers should you care too - there are some safeguards in place.
So, this fanciful expanse of H2O, in the guise of a sea, is nothing but the outflow of ideas in soluble form - in my mind anyway. Each ripple has a meaning all its own. Should I care to rattle you in some way then I stir the waters a little or cause huge, oceanic disturbances should the need arise; though I haven't quite mastered the art of controlling so large a body as of yet, but I am learning - one step at a time, or, different strokes for different folks might be a more appropriate analogy. Not only this, but I have to constantly swim the sea myself, looking for pockets of water which have no right to be there, being the creator, purveyor and participator of the story all merged into one. Daunting tasks and not those many care to undertake, hence accomplished writers are few and far between. I consider myself as merely a beginner - someone who has only dipped a toe in the incredibly rich, deep sea of composition, or at least someone who has waded out a little - I think I can claim that at least.
There are all manner of writers out there, from those only capable of asking you to splash around a little in tiny puddles, to ones in command of the world at large, masters of all they survey - land and sea combined, wanting to alter the course of history with every pen stroke. The power of words has no limit as any historian will tell you. Civilisations have been formed from them and by them. This is an ongoing process, never resting and constantly forging ahead. You could say it was spiralling out of control at this juncture judging by the behaviour of people at large these days, who have all been inspired by some wordy expression from somewhere or other at some point in their lives; but so it has been from time immemorial - nothing new about it at all. 'With great power comes great responsibility', as written by Voltaire, is very appropriate when it comes to putting pen to paper. Not only can the author quickly get out his depth but so can the reader - the sea of words can be a perilous place for all concerned. It is an undertaking which shouldn't be taken lightly - far from it.
Such works out there of staggering proportions. Mind-boggling when you consider the skills needed to undertake certain, monumental works. We all have our favourites, which I won't mention here. Books you are only too happy to return to again and again. I used to welcome the fact my memory was not the best, allowing me to repeat former experiences - to feel, once again, some emotion I might well have forgotten since the last time I open the leaves of some masterpiece. It is interesting to re-read some novel too after life's experiences have changed your mind and opinion on various matters. To fully understand the meaning of life you really do need to be a triathlete of sorts, or at least capable of swimming huge distances whilst soaking up all you wade through.
Myself? I can only swim so far before I feel my mental muscles beginning to ache. Time, I think, to head back to shore. It has been a good day - an eventful day. I want to spend the evening staring at the soft, rocking motion of the waves from somewhere safe and warm. Where I can look out at the rumbling expanse to consider what tidal conditions will flow and what manner of monsters I will set free, if any, tomorrow. There is something soothing about the view, something about it strikes a chord deep within me. Even if I never write another word I can still take solace from the fact I have already created many sea conditions, allowing a return to suitable waters to match my mood any time I care too, as can any who read my heartfelt words. I have been of service I think. A congratulatory pat on my own back wouldn't go amiss, I reckon.
I may be small fry at the moment, a tiddler in comparison, but I have aspirations to become a King! Poseidon had better watch his back as I will vie for that throne of his one day - I wish