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Sail On, Dear Captain

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I’m a writer.

I repeat this line in my head over and over again as I work up the motivation to turn thoughts into words late in the night when my brain wants to go to sleep or early in the morning when I immediately want to jump on social media or on my days off when I want to binge watch a show. I stare at those blank pages or whatever I wrote a few days ago and many times I ask myself the same thing.

What am I doing?

I don’t know what I’m doing half the time. I was a kid who loved books and playing in my backyard, reading Treasure Island and pretending a cardboard box was my pirate ship, daydreaming of the day I would one day get my own galleon. Now I’m an adult and I still feel like I’m on that boat, still daydreaming of the day I’ll sail off into the deep. Anchored in the harbor and fearing the waves.

What is the point?

I was never one to put off hard work. My parents raised me in the belief that if you wanted something, you had to be willing to do the work for it. But I guess what has daunted me all these years was not that I just didn’t want to work for it, but rather that I was crippled by the fear of failing.

What if I’m actually not good?

I look at everyone else. Their ships are tall and sturdy. They plow through waves and storms. They don’t fear the winds. They tell tales of the dangers they faced and show their scars with pride. And it’s in those times I think maybe it’s not the sea, maybe it’s just my boat. Maybe I’m not cut out to face what lurks out there in deep.

What if I drown?

I see bits and pieces of other ships who weren’t able to hold out, wrecked and damaged beyond repair. Some now resting at the bottom of the sea, never to sail again. And I can’t help but wonder if this is to be my fate. So I remain in the harbor, anchor lowered and sails fastened down.

But what if I tried?

I realize that my ship might not be as big or bright. It might not seem like much but a boat is a boat. And a boat is not meant to linger aimless in the harbor but has a purpose out in the deep. The sea isn’t going to move for me, that’s what my ship is for.

The course I chart is my own decision. I can’t blame the weather around me or the ocean I’m in. I can be smart and adapt to the conditions, but if I let it stop me from doing what I was meant to do then whose fault is it? I was not meant for the safety of a dock but for the brutality of the seas. Regardless of storm or waves or whatever lurks in the deep, my dream was made for sailing and sail on I will.

I am the captain

We must free ourselves of the hope that the sea will ever rest. We must learn to sail in high winds.

Aristotle Onassis

A Rose By Any Other Name…

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One of the hardest things when creating a character is coming up with an appropriate name for them. Sure, it seems easy, but ever have a name in mind and then when you create the character it just doesn’t fit?

So how do you go about finding the perfect moniker?

Baby naming sites: I suggest https://www.babble.com/ because it gives you not only naming lists, but also the meanings and origins.

Some other good sites:

  • Nameberry.com
  • Babynamewizard.com
  • Babycenter.com

Books: Bruce Lansky has a good bit of books that are very helpful and up to date. Also “The Everything Baby Names Book” by June Rifkin. But the best and one I used is “Beyond Ava and Aiden” by Linda Rosenkrantz and Pamela Redmond Satran who are also the creators of Nameberry.

Fantasy

If you’re like me and are writing fantasy, sometimes typical, modern names are not a good fit for your characters.

  • Try foreign, exotic names
  • Unique spellings
  • Mix two names or words together (i.e. Brandon + Nathan = Branthan)

What I tend to do is create my own. Sometimes using a language I made up. If you don’t feel like doing all that, then the above suggestions are probably the best suited for you.

It might take some time to come up with a good fit but eventually you’ll get a feel for the character and their name will kind of fall into place. Don’t stress about it.