By Sarah Reichert
“I am the shore and the ocean, awaiting myself on both sides.”
― Dejan Stojanovic,
There's nothing so calming as the patient and endless sound of the ocean. Its rushing cycles, ceaseless and salty, kiss the sand and pebbled beaches across coastlines. I used to believe that folks are separated into two categories (three if you count the odd desert-lover) of mountain or sea. I believed, therefore, that I couldn't be faithful to one if I enjoyed the other's company. I grew up around mountains. I navigated pine needle-covered forest beds. I embraced the particular and familiar smell of earthy muck on the sides of clear-running creeks. The delicate click of beetles taking flight and the happy short song of the chickadee were the sounds of home for me.
When I lived in San Diego, for a short time, I didn't enjoy the ocean. It was gray and unforgiving. It had the overwhelming odor of fish and, and sometimes, people. It was cold and gritty and the parking was hard to come by. I missed my mountains. I felt like a chickadee thrown into the sandy, June-gloom covered expanse, exposed and unsure. But, with time and repeated tries, I learned to appreciate its language. It’s a constant and meditative entity. Even when we breathe, the sound of air rushing in and out of our lungs mimics it. Its salty taste is the taste of our own sweat, and tears, and blood.
Stepping away from what we know and embracing what is foreign to us often takes more than one try to get right. Its learning to enjoy the process when we are thrown into the middle of it. Its not fighting the necessary steps or shunning the different place we find ourselves in. We may embrace the creative flow of ideas, happily chugging along in our novels, or poems, or essays without regard to commas or adverb use, but the steps afterwards (the follow up, the query, the editing, the submitting) leave us feeling like a land-lover in a rocky boat; unsure, wobbly and dissident to the process.
If all you want is to do is write, and enjoy the feeling of creating a world on a sheet of paper, that's a wonderful thing. But would you have really bothered with all of that hard work, if you hadn't intended for the rest of the world to know the story? Step off the dock, dive into that salty and rushing force. Let the sand coat the delicate skin between your toes and don't grimace your face in disgust. It is what it is. Enjoy the new and unfamiliar. You will gain a fuller soul for it.
What part of the writing process is hardest for you to muddle through and why?