|What better time to learn the Rules of Writing than part way through my second book. Yes, because if I'd known the rules, or even learned the rules before book #1, I would have surely been too intimidated to attempt such a feat.
Whose Rules? Ha, good question. No not the Harper Collins, or Oxford rules or even the rules I learned from my seventh grade teacher, who inspired me to write my first book.
I followed my brother, Charlie's advice and ordered a copy of "The Joy of Writing," by Pierre Berton.
"It's the best book I ever read, you'll love it," Charles told me, on my second last visit to Canada, last May.
Did growing up with Pierre Berton as my neighbour shape my destiny? Did it influence me to want to write? Surely it must have. I remember peeking into his office as a child, guilty and yet drawn, curious, yet intimidated.
In Pierre's book I found the 30 Rules. Wow! Luckily, I have been unknowingly following many of them already. Did I hear them somewhere in the past, is it instinct, common sense, or just blind luck?
Many of the rules reassure me that I am on the right track, quieting nagging doubts that I had about certain things.
How fortunate I am to have so much free time to write. Reading about Pierre, who wrote many of his best-selling books on holidays, weekends, or early in the morning, before he left for his 25 mile commute to his day job, makes me feel a little ashamed for whining about not having enough time to write.
So each morning I stroll along the dock, past our tropical plants, climb the five steps up into the house, hang a left, along a narrow hallway, my bare feet slapping along the faded, burgundy tile floor, into the great room, which I am fortunate enough to use as my office.
The entire side of the room facing the boat, where John sits while I work, is made up of doors and shutters that open up, so we can see each other, from a distance.
I sit at the table, facing the wide, shaded balcony, with the same cool, faded burgundy tile floor. Across the bay, I have a view of the candy coloured houses of Pandytown, built on stilts, over the water, against the background of lush, tropical mountains. To my right, is the Caribbean Sea, stunning no matter what her mood might be.
To the left, lies the small channel that connects five or six small towns and neighbourhoods, some call it Waterworld, or Little Venice, it's the highway of life here and there is no lack of action to watch, when my eyes and brain need a break from my work.
I work away, bringing "The Captains Log, Diamond Lil Does the Bahamas," slowly to life. I drag my VCR and television set out of their hiding spot and set them up each day, fast forward my video to the spot I'm writing about and watch. I read my log. I read the six cruising guides that I am using and I pour over the charts, re-tracing every route through every cut that we navigated, making sure I've got it right, and checking with my right-hand man, the captain, when I'm not sure.
I'll be working away and John will yell out, from the boat.
"MEL --- LUNCH"
I'm sure everyone who hears, and they do, because sound travels easily across water must find us an odd pair, as I bounce along the dock and climb on board to see what treat he has in store for me.
"John, remember that day that we were dragged through the anchorage In Marsh Harbour,by that big power boat, "The Judge's Choice," I asked him yesterday. "Did we have two anchors down that day, or just our Danforth?"
"We had two down, because it was so crowded and we didn't want to swing too much," he replied.
"I thought so, that's what I wrote, but I wanted to check to make sure."
And so it goes, day by day, week by week. I aim to write 1,500 words each day. Sometimes I write more, sometimes less, but I try to follow rule number four. READ! READ! READ! WRITE! WRITE! WRITE! REWRITE! REWRITE! REWRITE!