Letter from the Director – August 2021

Perspective and Buoys

Some of you know that along with writing poetry and serving as the director of Rockvale Writers’ Colony, I race in the sport of triathlon. Races in this multisport are three-sectioned: swim, bike, and run. There’s a perspective I’ve noticed when swimming in open water (lakes, rivers, reservoirs) that ties into the writing life. I know it sounds far-fetched, but swim along with me for a minute. 

When I look at a swim course from the shore and note the buoys that are positioned in the water to mark the route, the distances between them seem short. I can clearly see buoy 1, buoy 2, etc., the orange turn buoys, and the buoys that lead you back to shore. The way is logical and completely doable. The racecourse from this distance doesn’t appear challenging at all, but when I’m in the water and my eyes are at water level, the perspective changes. The distances seem different. When I raise my head to sight, I can’t take in the whole course, but only the next buoy. I swim to the next buoy as if it’s the only buoy that matters because, at that moment, it is. 

If you scan the big picture of your writing dreams, it may not seem too hard. Say, for instance, you want to write a book. Speaking it aloud, “I want to write a book,” is easy. The perspective isn’t daunting from the shore of the desire to write a book, but the nitty-gritty, soul-challenging work of being face to face with the page is hard. That’s when you have the gut check moment of deciding just how important that book is to you. Will you swim, (excuse me, write) to the first buoy or not?

There are two important things about buoys. 1. They show you the way.  2. They float.

What buoys have you placed securely in your writing life? Do you have a stepwise plan for accomplishing those big goals and dreams? Perhaps you have submission goals or plan to take an online class or go to a writing conference. Maybe a writing residency is a goal you can set your sights on. Buoys also act as safety devices if you need to stop and rest. You can hold on to them if you have to, pause and gather your strength. Maybe you have a trusted writing friend who will read pages of your work and offer feedback. Maybe learning meditation and stress handling skills can be helpful or taking time each morning to journal as you sip coffee or tea. 

The buoys are there if you seek them. As your perspective changes from the big picture to detailed work, they can be invaluable aids. No matter the perceived distance and difficulty of the course, taking it one buoy at a time will get you to the goal.