We writers love to talk about finding our literary voice (good piece on that here), along with our favorite tropes, motifs, and images. Basically…stuff we know.

We’ve all heard the “write what you know” advice, often attributed to ol’ Papa Hemingway. What he really said (and more Hemingway writing advice here):

Write about what you know and write truly and tell them all where they can place it…Books should be about the people you know, that you love and hate, not about the people you study about.

So, we read, travel, meet, live, repeat, and read some more–to amass the places, people, and ideas that we know fully, that become an integral part of us. So much so that these places, people, and ideas pop up in our writing as setting, characters, tropes and all those other fun literary terms.

All that’s to say that our writerly voice and our place in the world (weekly photo challenge) go hand-in-hand. For me, the way to discovering my literary voice–my place on the page (definitely still a work in progress)–and my place in the world are parallel journeys. And both follow water.

They say the apple doesn’t fall far… My dad, a lifelong Lake Erie boater, went around the world’s waterways as a young man in the Navy and still didn’t get enough of the stuff. Being landlocked makes him itchy. (Here he is on his 1942 Lyman he restored himself.) I suppose I inherited some of his itch.


From the Great Lake of my girlhood to the river I’m on now (header photo)–water makes its way into much of my creative writing. Not only as setting and a handy trope, but I’m interested in water’s relationship with our human bodies (which are so much water!), and I wish I could fish and swim and dive with an expert’s ease. And there’s where I write what I don’t know, because I want to know more.

This summer I will do more to know more to write more. How’s that? And I’ll do it in a dinghy! Yep, we bought a dinghy–my little family’s first foray onto the water.

Does your place in the world inform your place on the page? I’d love to hear about it and to see pics!





20 thoughts on “Our Place in the World: Water Ways

  1. That is a great boat and really terrific that he restored it himself! To date, my novels have been set in the area where I live. My current project is veering farther afield – England (but I have some help! And really, I should take a trip for research, right? 😃)

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  2. I’m a water person too! Grew up on my parents’ yacht and sailed a lot as a child. And yes, water enters my dreams and my stories. Maybe not quite enough! What are you going to do with your dinghy?

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    1. There’s just something so soothingly elemental about the water, isn’t there? I wish I knew how to sail! Even though I grew up near Lake Erie and my dad (and brother) sailed, I never learned. Our new dinghy (we can’t get enough of dinghy jokes around here!) has a centerboard and a sail, so we’ll get the feel of that a little. Plus, we live on a river that leads to the Chesapeake Bay and there’s lots of fishing and crabbing. It makes our river not so great for swimming but fun for fishing, so we will get our boys fishing poles (and maybe a trotline for crabbing) and do that too. Thanks so much for stopping by!

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  3. First, kudos to your dad, that is an amazing and beautiful boat, yes I’m jealous! Second, it’s never to late to learn how to sail, it’s magic … no motors, nothing mechanical … but when the wind catches your sail, when the canvas snaps and you start to glide across the water … it’s a feeling like nothing else, a connection that people have shared for thousands of years.

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  4. Thank you (on behalf of my dad). He bought it for $3,000 I think it was (in the 80s)–sold his Austin Healey to do it (we’re still not sure they was a good idea). And he probably overpaid, since he and my brother (who helped him restore it) discovered that it was mostly rotted out. So they had to start from the ground up–steaming and bending the new ribs and everything. It’s always been a labor of love and my dad’s fourth kid! I’ve never tried to sail at all. Being near Annapolis, Maryland, I must try. Hope I like it! Thanks for stopping by!


  5. Great post. I think location definitely impacts writing. I’m in New England and it informs my style for sure. There’s a lot of horror writers in these parts, and New England is full of lore and old spooky stories.

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  6. Lovely dinghy ⛵️. I liked this post. I’m a Caribbean girl who over the last 20+ years lived and is still living close to the water and witnessing the most spectacular sunsets 🌅 and yes this does influence my writing.

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